Ecuador vs Uruguay Preview

Ecuador vs Uruguay | Friday 11 October | Quito | 23:00


This encounter has slowly turned into one of the most crucial rivalries in South American football. The first superpower of world football, Uruguay, take on a team that used to make up the proverbial numbers. 

Automatic qualification for the World Cup has often hinged on the result of this encounter and this year’s clash should prove no different.

Uruguay are level on points with Ecuador but have an inferior goal difference.

Thus they currently occupy the dreaded fifth spot, a spot which eschews the comforts of automatic qualification for a grueling two leg qualifier. The importance of this match cannot be overstated.


To Win (90mins)
Ecuador 1/1
Draw 23/10
Uruguay 28/10

ECUADOR

Ecuador are always a formidable side in Quito, with the altitude factor often playing a crucial role in the latter stages of encounters; the stadium stands a fear-inducing 2,800 meters above sea level. Ecuador have had to deal with the tragic passing of star striker Christian Benitez in July, a tragedy that has seemed to have left an irreparable stain on the qualifying campaign for the squad.

That coupled with the first 23 minutes of their May friendly against a second string German side, which was a dark period that exposed the frailties that beset the heart of the Ecuadorian defense.

Coach Reinaldo Rueda will have to take the game to Uruguay with the knowledge that they have an awkward away fixture at the in-form Chile to come.

Antonio Valencia is the obvious stand out player; the Manchester United winger has the ability to expose an Uruguayan side far more competitive further up the field. Midfielder Segundo Castillo, the scorer of the equalizer against Argentina, will be a vital cog in the heart of the midfield, both offensively and defensively.

Captain Walter Ayovi brings some stability to the midfield while the experienced Jefferson Montero will bring an added attacking dimension.

His time in Spain with the likes of Levante and Villarreal lends the team an added dose of European sophistication.

They will be hoping that a disciplined first half performance can reap rewards in the second half where altitude will start to take its toll on an Uruguayan team awash with European flair.

URUGUAY

Oscar Tabarez, or ‘El Maestro’ as he is affectionately known, has a tricky fixture on his hands here. La Celeste had a fairly disastrous start to the qualifying campaign but have come right when it almost seemed beyond them. They beat high-flying Colombia in Montevideo and won two crucial away matches in Venezuela and Peru.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was instrumental in the resurgence of the side, especially with the two goals scored in Peru.

And with the dual talents of Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani alongside him, Uruguay will be feeling extremely confident of turning their qualifying woes into a victorious march to Rio.

They also have the talented Abel Hernandez in their strike department, a front line that could stand up to any other attacking force in world football.

One would figure that it is likely that their prolific strike force will have to make a huge impression in the first half of the match, before the potentially damaging effects of altitude start to kick in.

Thus I would suspect a game of two halves, with the Uruguayan defense coming under harsh scrutiny in the second 45 minutes.

Fernando Muslera will come under some pressure in the Uruguayan goal while captain Diego Lugano will attempt to marshal his defense. They have talented defenders, such as Caceras and Pereira, as well as Liverpool’s Coates. But they seem to lack the type of cohesion that their attacking unit has in abundance.

It’s as if you have a Champions League Arsenal-esque side playing in front of a middling Swansea midfield and defensive unit.

So I feel Uruguay will need to really attack the game in the first half in order to give its defense the cushion I believe will be necessary to see them towards the brink of World Cup qualification.

VERDICT: Uruguay 28/10

Ecuador will not be able to withstand the early penetration of an exciting and dynamic Uruguayan attacking force. Luis Suarez will likely wreak havoc in the same way that the young German team dismantled Ecuador in the States. But as the game evolves, and the effect of altitude takes it course, Ecuador will slowly get themselves back into the game. However, the gradual disintegration of Uruguayan energy reserves should not be able to account for the quality Uruguay can display in the early stages of the game.  Snap them up at 28/10 for an upset.

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