Estadio El Teniente, Rancagua
Saturday 19th June, 2015, 1:30am GMT
Mexico gained plenty of plaudits for their performance in earning a thrilling 3-3 draw with hosts Chile on Monday, but victory is now all that matters for Miguel Herreraa s men entering their final Copa America group match. After an insipid opening goalless draw with Bolivia, Mexico produced a vivacious display to twice take the lead against one of the favorites to take the trophy before coming from behind to salvage a well-deserved point. But it still leaves El Tri realistically needing a victory against Ecuador on Friday in order to at least be sure of going onto the quarterfinals as one of the best third-placed teams.
Both teams have failed to impress in the early stages of the competition, with Mexico having been held to two draws and Ecuador losing back-to-back games.Only a win would be good enough to see third-placed Mexico in with a chance of automatic qualification after Bolivia stunned Ecuador in a 3-2 thriller on Monday.With hosts Chile and Bolivia who are level on points at the top meeting in the other Group A game, Mexico boss Miguel Herrera should be confident of his side’s chances of qualification for the quarter-finals.Ecuador’s only hope now is to beat Mexico and potentially progress as one of the two best third-placed teams, spots currently held by Uruguay and Colombia.Recent history is not on the side of Ecuador, whose last win over Mexico came back in 2010.
Team news and tactical brief
Already having a second-string squad at his disposal as his top players focus on preparing for next montha s Gold Cup, Herreraa s options have been further restricted ahead of their deciding group match. The squada s leader and most experienced player, Rafael MA?rquez, had been ruled out for the group stage after picking up an injury in the opening game. And now it has been confirmed that left wing-back Adrian Aldrete suffered an ankle sprain against Chile and is a doubt for the last game of this group.It leaves Herrera again having to reshape a defense that has already been stretched incredibly thin by having to compete on two fronts this summer. Since Herrera began planning for the two competitions following last yeara s World Cup, it has been finding the required number of adequate defenders that has been the biggest struggle, particularly given the coacha s strong preference to play five at the back.
Against Chile, defensive slips cost Mexico the initiative as Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas equalized for Chile in the first half, before Vidal was allowed to score his second from the penalty spot in the second half.Otherwise, though, there was much to admire about Mexicoa s display in Santiago. The team showed far more intensity in applying pressure to their opponents from the start. And having looked blunt in attack against Bolivia, RaA?l Jim nez added a touch of quality up front, alongside the hero of the day, Mat as Vuoso. The Argentine-born 33-year-old was a surprise selection in the squad, but scored twice to register his first goals for Mexico in six years.And both he and Mexico will be confident of adding to their goals tally when going up against Ecuador.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Corona(Gk); Ayala, Valenzuela, Dominguez; Aldrete, Flores, Guemez, Medina, Tecatito; Vuoso, Jimenez
Heading into this tournament, Ecuador could not exactly boast the best of Copa America records. Only twice in the last 11 editions had La Tri advanced beyond the group stages, something that they have not achieved since 1997.To make matters even more downbeat, they had not won a Copa America game since a 4-0 hammering of Venezuela 14 years ago. Yet, even with new boss Gustavo Quinteros at the helm, it has been the same negative form from Ecuador. The 2-0 defeat to Chile in the tournament opener can perhaps be accepted, but losing 3-2 to Bolivia – a side ranked 58 places below them in the current FIFA rankings – will not have been well received back home.Two defeats on the bounce may convince Quinteros to make some changes to his starting lineup. Juan Cazares could come into the midfield, while winger Renato Ibarra is also believed to be pushing for inclusion.
The two defeats mean that even a first Copa America victory since 2001 over Mexico is unlikely to be enough to extend their interest in the competition beyond the group stages.Regardless of the result that they achieve, it is an uncertain time for the Ecuador national side ahead of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. There have been disputes over squad bonuses in recent years and displays at this Copa will have done little to improve the mood.Despite succumbing to a 3-2 defeat to Bolivia, Gustavo Quinteros could opt for a similar looking XI when his side take on Mexico.Juan Cazares and Renato Ibarra were introduced at the interval in the loss and could start here.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Dominguez(Gk); Paredes, Achillier, Erazo, Ayovi; Ibarra, Noboa; Bolanos, Montero, Cazares; Valencia
Players to Watch Out For
Mat as Vuoso (Mexico)
The Argentine-born 33-year-old was a surprise selection in the squad, but scored twice to register his first goals for Mexico in six years and give Mexico a vital point against the hosts Chile. He will be looking to add to his tally against a shaky Ecuadorian defence tonight.
Enner Valencia (Ecuador)
A team featuring the Premier League pedigree of Jefferson Montero and Enner Valencia will have fancied their chances of making an impact at the start of the tournament, but already finds itself all-but eliminated after two straight defeats. Valencia has been dissapointing so far but will do his best to end the tournament on a high.
Mexico 3a 1 Ecuador
They struggled to create chances in their opening game, but Mexico got their creative juices flowing against Chile. Providing that they are able to carry that on against Ecuador, they will have far too much for the Ecuadorians, who with two defeats to their name are likely to want to be on the next plane home.
Blast From the Past
When these two clashed in a friendly in Los Angeles back in late March, Mexico ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a goal from Manchester United frontman Hernandez.