Ecuador and Chile do battle at the Arena Fonte Nova on Saturday, with everything on the line for both teams. Top of the group after a fantastic first outing versus Japan, Chile will be brimming with confidence as they prepare for this vital encounter. As for Ecuador, they’ll be licking their wounds following a truly disheartening display against Uruguay first time around in the Copa America as they were demolished by their opponents and unquestionably, they’ll be out to redeem themselves here.
It’s not been five matches without a victory for Ecuador, a feat which no team wants to hold. They have scored just three times and failed to find the net in three of those meetings, with stalemates versus Honduras and Venezuela being the only halt to an otherwise dire few months. After suffering defeat against Mexico by three goals to two in their last warm up game for the tournament, Ecuador should have been proud of their performance and expecting to show that they possess qualities of their own in the opener against Uruguay. However, it did not go as planned and in the end, Oscar Tabarez’s men ran out 4-0 victors in a difficult day for the ten players of Ecuador as Jose Quinteros received a red card less than twenty-five minutes into the match. Goals from Nicolas Lodeiro, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez virtually sealed all three points for Uruguay before half time, and Arturo Mina made it four as the tie came to a conclusion with an own goal.
This Chilean side is something to behold with incredibly passionate, determined and talented players all over the park. Although their friendlies leading up to the Copa America did not provide them with the best of preparation for the competition, notably their defeat to Mexico by three goals to one, a victory over Haiti in the beginning of June set them on their way to pummel Japan in the opening encounter of the group stage. Their opponents actually had the better of the early exchanges, which is easy to forget considering the end result, but it was Erick Pulgar who started the scoring five minutes before half time. Eduardo Vargas bagged the second nine minutes after the break and Manchester United attacker Alexis Sanchez grabbed his first goal of the Copa America for this year under ten minutes from time. Only one minute afterwards, Vargas earned his brace and if victory was not already assured, it certainly was now. This result left Chile top of the group despite being level on goal difference with Uruguay, and another win here is crucial if they are to continue that fight to remain at the summit.
In the last four matches Ecuador have switched between 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1, neither of which have proved particularly successful. Against Uruguay manager Hernan Gomez opted for the 4-2-3-1 and it was on the right side of his line up that he was let down to no end. Quinteros’ red card meant that Arturo Mina was left to pick up many of the pieces, and he himself didn’t have a good game whatsoever, completing just over half of his passes and netting in the wrong end. Angel Mena is expected to sit this one out due to a muscle injury, while Cristian Ramirez is also a doubt due to injury.
Alexis Sanchez may be forced to the sidelines with an ankle problem and he will face a late fitness test to see whether or not he can play any part on Saturday, while Gonzalo Jara has returned to training after his injury issues which will be a boost for the squad. It’s unlikely that Chile will sway from the 4-3-3 that worked so well for them against Japan, and the only individual who didn’t have a great match was attacker Jose Fuenzalido. It looks like Charles Aranguiz, the star man in the first game, will continue alongside Vidal and Pulgar in the midfield, while an attacking trio of Vargas, probably Sanchez and perhaps Fuenzalida will lead the line.
There is no doubt that Ecuador will be desperate to put in a positive display, but realistically it seems obvious that Chile will simply have too much for their opponents on the night. Because of this, we’re going for Chile to win and BTTS “No” at 2/1 with Bet365, odds that are actually better than we expected they would be. The Chile attack is just too powerful and with Ecuador struggling for goals, it doesn’t look as though they’ll open their account in this one. A winning margin of three goals in Chile’s favour looks good to us, due to their excellent attacking play and Ecuador’s desire to finally keep a clean sheet, which will lead to them sitting back and once the first goes in, the others are sure to follow soon after. Bet365 have Chile to win by three goals at 10/1. Eduardo Vargas is a striker who will be firing on all cylinders having gotten two in the first matchup against Japan, and Bet365 have the former QPR loanee to bag yet again here at 7/4.
Chile to win and BTTS “No” at 2/1
Chile to win by three goals at 10/1
Vargas to score anytime at 7/4