Ecuador meet France as World Cup Group E comes to a conclusion. Experts Rupert Fryer and Julien Laurens preview the action.
Rupert Fryer on Ecuador: Carlos Gruezo is in line to be recalled to the midfield in place of Oswaldo Minda, but otherwise coach Reinaldo Reuda should go with the same team that defeated Honduras. The frail defensive partnership of Frickson Erazo and ageing Jorge Guagua will need more protection if they are to better Switzerland’s result and seal qualification. Reuda concedes that France will likely have a lot of possession and so midfield duo Gruezo and Christian Noboa will likely play deeper and look to spring the wide men on the counter.
Julien Laurens on France: Didier Deschamps has announced that he will make some changes for this game. Cabaye is suspended and Evra and Pogba are on a yellow so they could start on the bench. Varane has a stomach bug and will miss the game so Koscielny will replace him, while Sakho is fit to start. Some key players should be rested (Valbuena, Debuchy) which will give some opportunities to others (Sagna, Remy, Schneiderlin) to show what they can do.
Rupert Fryer: Reuda was pleased with his side’s showing in their 2-1 defeat by Switzerland, and even more so after coming back from a goal down to beat Honduras. The form of Noboa in midfield has been particularly encouraging, as has that of Enner Valencia who now has scored in each of his last seven internationals. His strike partner Felipe Caicedo has been disappointing, though. As has potential star Jefferson Montero – he has the ability to light up any game but this may well be his last chance to show what he can do in Brazil.
Julien Laurens: The French are in top form. They humiliated Switzerland in the second game of the tournament last week and were 5-0 with fifteen minutes to go. They conceded two late goals but it was an impressive performance from them. They were lethal going forward and could have scored more goals too as Benzema missed a penalty for example. Deschamps made two changes (Giroud and Sissoko for Griezmann and Pogba) and it paid off.
Check out our Ecuador v France Matchday Focus infographic.
WHAT THE MANAGER SAYS
Ecuador’s Reinaldo Reuda: “I think we have been blessed by God to have [Enner Valencia] on a goalscoring run practically right after the misfortune of losing Christian [Benitez].”
France’s Didier Deschamps: “We have only won two games. It will be important to secure top spot in our group and to keep our momentum.”
Rupert Fryer: Enner Valencia (pictured above) has scored all three of his side’s goals in the group stage and with everyone else misfiring, he is undoubtedly Ecuador’s best bet to earn the result they need will likely need in order to seal qualification. With Antonio Valencia and Montero yet to find their form from wide, key to him finding the net will be the quality of delivery on offer from left-back Walter Ayovi.
Julien Laurens: Blaise Matuidi has been excellent since the start of the competition. He was decisive in both games and even scored against Switzerland. He is so strong and runs so much. He puts a lot of pressure on the opposition and gets a lot of balls back as well as making runs from deep when France attack. He has improved so much in the last two seasons.
Rupert Fryer: With France set to make changes and rest some of their stars, Ecuador will fancy their chances of getting something from the game and with Valencia in in such form, 3.95 for him to score anytime offers superb value. While Montero may not be scoring goals or creating them, he is terrorising full-backs. He usually beats them more than once in one play, so backing likely right-back Bacary Sagna to pick up a booking at 6.00 is also worth a punt.
Julien Laurens: France to win without conceding at odds of 2.80
Rupert Fryer: France 2-1 Ecuador at odds of 8.00
Julien Laurens: France 1-0 Ecuador at odds of 7.50