With only one point separating the top-three teams in the 2022 World Cup Group A, a keenly-contested race for the two qualification spots will go down to the wire.
Since popular outright picks Netherlands are likely to thrash host nation Qatar in the other fixture, Ecuador and Senegal will probably battle it out for the remaining progression place.
After becoming the first team in 52 years to hold a host country goalless in a World Cup opener, courtesy of a 2-0 win over Qatar, the Ecuadorians fought back to eke out a 1-1 draw against the Oranje last time out.
Inspired by a quick-fire first-half brace against the Maroon, captain Enner Valencia grabbed an all-important equaliser against the Dutch to give his side the aces in this clash.
Having racked up four points from the opening two rounds, La Tri would lock down a place in the knockout stage if they avoid defeat against Senegal, regardless of the outcome of the Netherlands’ clash against Qatar.
But that could prove easier said than done, as the African heavyweights bounced back from a 2-0 loss to Louis van Gaal’s men by dismantling the tournament hosts 3-1 on matchday two.
Aware that a draw will likely prove insufficient to help them make it out of the World Cup group stage for only the second time, the Senegalese will have to go all-out from the get-go.
On the brink of a second group stage progression in only their fourth-ever World Cup participation after debuting in 2002, Ecuador will take on an African nation at the finals for the first time.
Gustavo Alfaro’s men have established themselves as a formidable defensive unit, as witnessed by a decent run of two clean sheets from their last three World Cup outings.
Indeed, apart from Cody Gakpo’s deadlock-breaker for the Netherlands last time out, the Ecuadorians haven’t faced a single shot on target in their opening two matches in Qatar.
It all comes down to this for Senegal, who, after reaching the quarter-finals in 2002, could advance into the World Cup knockout stage for the second time in their third tournament appearance.
However, the Lions of Teranga have yet to win back-to-back games at the World Cup, and unless they can buck that trend, the demolition of Qatar in round two will be in vain.
Signs are ominous for Senegal as they have won none of their two previous World Cup fixtures against nations from the CONMEBOL confederation (D1, L1).
Ecuador vs Senegal Head-to-Head
Senegal have come out victorious in both previous matches against Ecuador, though both showdowns had a friendly nature. They first claimed a narrow 1-0 win in 2002 before winning 2-1 in their most recent H2H in 2005.
Ecuador vs Senegal Potential Line-ups
Ecuador (4-4-2): Hernan Galindez; Angelo Preciado, Felix Torres, Piero Hincapie, Pervis Estupinan; Gonzalo Plata, Jhegson Mendez, Moises Caicedo, Romario Ibarra; Enner Valencia, Michael Estrada.
Senegal (4-2-3-1): Edouard Mendy; Youssouf Sabaly, Kalidou Koulibaly, Pape Abou Cisse, Abdou Diallo; Idrissa Gueye, Namplays Mendy; Ismaila Sarr, Boulaye Dia, Krepin Diatta; Famara Diedhiou.
Ecuador vs Senegal Prediction
Aliou Cisse’s men will have to bring the fight to Ecuador, with the Netherlands likely to stroll to three points against out-of-sorts Qatar.
Leaving too much space behind could, however, lead to the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations winners’ detriment, given the South Americans’ pacey counter-attacks.
We predict the majority of action to occur late in the game, with Senegal more likely to come up empty-handed.
Ecuador 1-1 Senegal
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