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Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup: Predicting Ecuador’s Starting XI

2014 World Cup: Predicting Ecuador's Starting XI

ecuador soccer team photo
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Reinaldo Rueda's 23-man squad is filled with quality and skill; choosing the starting Ecuador XI would be a daunting task for anyone. However, Rueda has been coaching the team for four years now, and he has enough experience with every player to be able to comfortably choose his starters. These 11 players all fit into a system that emphasizes strong team defense and quick wings on the counterattack.

GK - Alexander Dominguez

alexander dominguez ecuador goalkeeper
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

GK - Alexander Dominguez

alexander dominguez ecuador goalkeeper
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The long-time LDU Quito goalkeeper will be battling for the position with Maximo Banguera, but all signs point to Alexander Dominguez being the first-choice goalie. With his 6-foot-4 frame, Dominguez will pose a daunting figure for opposing attackers. Although his shot-stopping skills are more than adequate, he leaves much to be desired when it comes to his footwork and ball handling.

RB - Juan Carlos Paredes

juan carlos paredes ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

RB - Juan Carlos Paredes

juan carlos paredes ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Reinaldo Rueda will stick with his long-time right back Juan Carlos Paredes. The "Hormiga," as he is known, boasts incredible speed that can and will be a distracting force for opposing defenses. When it comes to defending, that same speed is an asset, but he's been known to be a bit of a liability with lazy coverages.

CB - Jorge Guagua

jorge guagua ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

CB - Jorge Guagua

jorge guagua ecuador - Copy
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Jorge Guagua has long been a first-choice defender on the Ecuadorian side, even managing to play in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The 32-year-old will look to bring his veteran knowledge as well as imposing strength to Ecuador's backline. Reinaldo Rueda's reliance on set-plays will also demand Guagua to be a factor offensively.

CB - Frickson Erazo

frickson erazo ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

CB - Frickson Erazo

frickson erazo ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

All throughout the South American qualifiers, Reinaldo Rueda has selected Frickson Erazo as the backline partner of Jorge Guagua. The 6-foot-3, 26-year-old defends at an extremely high level, leading to his transfer to Brazilian side, Flamengo. His sheer size, strength and decision-making will no doubt make him a starter.

LB - Walter Ayovi

walter ayovi ecuador
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

LB - Walter Ayovi

walter ayovi ecuador
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If Ecuador is in need of veteran experience, they will find it in their starting left-back Walter Ayovi. The 34-year-old is nearing 100 caps with his country, but his level of play remains as good as his younger days. His willingness to play in different positions and his powerful left foot will be a difference-maker in Brazil.

CM - Carlos Gruezo

carlos gruezo ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

CM - Carlos Gruezo

carlos gruezo ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Segundo Castillo was a sure lock-in for Ecuador's center-mid role, but his likely MCL tear suffered against Mexico will make room for the young Carlos Gruezo. Although he's only 19 years old, his amazing quality on the ball have led him to a high-profile transfer to German club, Stuttgart. Unless Castillo has a miracle recovery, look for Gruezo to start for Brazil.

CM - Christian Noboa

christian noboa ecuador
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

CM - Christian Noboa

christian noboa ecuador
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Luckily for Ecuador, their other center-mid, Christian Noboa, is healthy and well for the World Cup. The long-time Dynamo Moscow player is one of the best box-to-box midfielders in South America and is a huge part of Reinaldo Rueda's counterattacking system. His ability to break up opposing plays and immediately start offensive ones will be necessary for Ecuador's success.

RW - Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia Ecuador
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

RW - Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia Ecuador
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

An official FIFA study in 2013 revealed that Ecuadorian captain Antonio Valencia is the fastest soccer player in the world. That blistering speed, powerful right foot and big-game experience will be Ecuador's best chance at advancing to the knockout stage and even further. Valencia will be looking to prove why Sir Alex Ferguson believes he's one of the best wingers in the world.

LW - Jefferson Montero

jefferson montero ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

LW - Jefferson Montero

jefferson montero ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Reinaldo Rueda likes his system to have amazing speed on the wings to catch teams on the counterattack. With the right side covered by Antonio Valencia, the left wing will belong to Jefferson Montero. He has long proven in the Mexican league that his speed and excellent dribbling skills make him a nightmare for opposing defenders.

ST - Enner Valencia

enner valencia ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

ST - Enner Valencia

enner valencia ecuador
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It's no easy feat becoming the top goalscorer in the Mexican First Division, but Enner Valencia made it seem like a piece of cake. His 18 goals for Pachuca will earn him a place in Ecuador's starting XI. He will likely play around the target man, looking to exploit his speed and sublime finishing ability.

ST - Felipe Caicedo

felipe caicedo ecuador
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

ST - Felipe Caicedo

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With wingers like Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero beating their men and always looking to put crosses into the box, Felipe Caicedo will be the perfect target man for Reinaldo Rueda. Caicedo's style is known to be based on raw strength and a strong aerial ability. His 6-foot-2 frame will be able to effectively bother and battle opposing defenders.