Preview: Ecuador vs France
Ecuador will take on France needing a win.
La Tri are tied on three points with Switzerland but they will expect Switzerland to win their game against Honduras. That would take the Swiss to six points so the Ecuadorians will hope to beat France and progress to the knockout stages with a superior goal difference.
Ecuador will pin their hopes on in-form striker Enner Valencia and the other front players as they face a formidable France side.
But France will not be giving anything away despite already being assured of qualification as they will want to avoid Argentina who are odds-on to finish top in Group F. A draw is enough to ensure Les Bleus finish top.
France are looking for their third consecutive win, which would repeat the perfect group stage record they last achieved in 1998. That possibility has exponentially raised expectations back in their homeland, where supporters are increasingly viewing their side as the best at the entire tournament.
French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has joined Didier Deschamps in trying to lower those expectations as they tried to point out the negative effects of peaking too early.
Ecuador team news
- Ecuador have no significant injuries and manager Reinaldo Rueda is likely to pick the same starting XI that won 2-1 against Honduras.
France team news
- France have scored 16 goals in their last three games.
- Raphael Varane and Mamadou Sakho are huge doubts for this game; Varane missed Sunday’s training with gastroenteritis, while Sakho is battling a thigh injury.
- Yohan Cabaye is suspended after picking up his second booking of the tournament.
Ecuador’s manager Reinaldo Rueda will be acutely aware of the French threat; they have eight goals already in a World Cup in which some teams are yet to register a goal, so they will play to their strengths and attack.
Defensively, he will need his side to be a lot more disciplined than they were in their first two games as they will have to work hard for long periods of the game without possession.
In attack, Rueda should be encouraged by the possibility of facing a France side that will be without its first-choice central defensive pair, plus Cabaye. That gives Valencia a good chance of causing some problems. The most important thing though for Ecuador will be the quality of balls they deliver into the box.
They are a team that relies on playing out wide then providing crosses, and they have had mixed success in that regard. Their left side has been decent, with Jefferson Montero and Walter Ayovi delivering accurate crosses in their first two games. Ayovi already recorded three assists in the two games he has played.
It is their right side that has been disappointing, with Antonio Valencia particularly poor. Rueda’s side need to improve on that flank because France are going to have a lot of possession and their best hopes of countering effectively will be down the flanks where Patrice Evra and Mathieu Debuchy both leave space behind.
France will want their full-backs to push on and provide crosses as often as they possibly can because Ecuador’s defence is not very good at stopping crosses or dealing with them. That should see Olivier Giroud given the nod ahead of Antoine Griezmann in Les Bleus; starting XI as the Arsenal man offers more threat when attacking crosses and set-pieces.
France might have problems at the back but their momentum and quality should decide the game in their favour.