Since 1975, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay have been the biggest performers in the Copa America. With the former winning five titles, and the latter two, with a couple of titles each. It is often difficult to find a diverse set of winners, in this tournament a much like the La Liga, in Spain.
Indeed, the only time we saw a Copa America winner outside these three, was in 2001, when the great Colombian team snatched it from the Mexicansa hands with a 65th minute goal.
When one tries to think of teams outside Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, that could win the Copa America, two immediate names come to mind a 2014 World Cup Quarterfinalists Columbia, and current hosts Chile.
Ecuador is a rather unlikely name, when one thinks about who could win a Copa America. Yet they have always traditionally been one of the better teams in the continent. However, the country is yet to win ita s first ever title at the tournament.
The Ecuadorians had put in spirited performances at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but missed-out on the knockout stages of the tournament, by a whisker.
The appointment of former Bolivia manager Gustavo Quinteros has also enhanced their hopes of progressing deep into the Copa America. For the last three years, Quinteros has been managing Ecuadorian side Emelec, and has helped the team win back-to-back Ecuadorian Serie A titles, in 2013 and 2014.
Interestingly, Quinteros has included seven of his Emelec players in the squad, trying to bring in some of the team chemistry of the best football club from the country.
However, the player who possesses the most threat from Ecuador is West Ham United forward Enner Valencia. Jefferson Montero of Swansea is another forward, who could play a key role in Ecuadora s setup.
Both these players provide width and pace to the team, and would be important to catch the opposition defenders off their guard.Ecuadora s counter-attacking setup allows Quintero to use the pace and technical abilities of these two players, who have shown their worth at West Ham and Swansea, this season. While Valencia has scored four scorching goals this for West Ham, Montero has provided an assist in almost every two matches.
However, it is not just the attackers that Ecuador would be depending on, in the Copa America. Since their play mostly depends on counter attacks, they would also be relying heavily on Emelec midfielder Gabriel Achilier, who would be looking to nip the opposition attacks in the bud, and launch his team on the counter.
Supporting Achilier in midfield is Vitesse Arnhem playmaker Renato Ibarra. With a blend of cautiousness and creativity, Ibarra could turn out to be the thorn on the side of Ecuadora s much more illustrious opponents in the competition. It is imperative that Ibarra perform well in the tournament, as he would be the one pulling the strings from the middle of the park. With a pass-success-rate of over 84 per cent, this season, the 24-year-old is one of the most important inclusions in the squad.
Their back-line however, is a huge reason of concern for Quintero, as the team goes into the tournament. In their recent friendlies against Panama, we have seen Quintero trying to solve this defensive problem by making his team close- down their opponents, high up the pitch.It did work against Panama, as Ecuador ran away 4-0 winners, but this is a rather risky way to play the game, and they could find themselves caught on the counter, against the bigger sides.
However, the . Amarillos find themselves in a rather difficult group, alongside the likes of Mexico, Bolivia, and hosts Chile. To progress to the group stages of the tournament, they either need to finish in the top-half of the four-team group, or finish as one of the two best-placed third teams.
It seems more likely that they would make it to the quarter finals the second way, but Ecuador always seem to be having that surprise element within them. And we have seen time and again, how teams with a counter attacking style benefit from playing in the knockout stages.