Chile will be looking to make it two wins in two matches in the 2019 Copa America, when they face off against Ecuador at the Fonte Nova Arena on Friday night.

Having made a sensational start to the defence of their Copa America trophy, reigning champions Chile will be aiming to build on that momentum when they lock horns with Ecuador in Salvador on Friday night.

Chile, having won back to back Copa America titles in 2015 and 2016, made a rousing start to this edition of the competition as they thrashed guest nation Japan 4-0 in their first fixture earlier this week, which has put them on the top of Group C, level on points with second-placed Uruguay.

Coming into the tournament, Renaldo Rueda’s men hadn’t been in the best of form, but the performance against Japan will fill them with immense confidence. A win on Friday night would all but seal their place in the quarter-finals and that is what La Roja will be aiming for when they take the field in Salvador.

Ecuador, on the other hand, made the worst possible start to their 2019 Copa America campaign. La Tricolor were handed a 4-0 beating by one of the tournament favourites Uruguay in their opening fixture which means they are rooted to the bottom of Group C.

There weren’t much expectations on Hernan Dario Gomez’s men heading into the tournament, but they would be keen on avoiding another mauling and put up a better showing when they meet the current trophy holders at the Fonte Nova Arena.

Team News & Tactics

Ecuador

Ecuador lost 4-0 to Uruguay in their opening fixture (Photo credit should read DOUGLAS MAGNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Ecuador lost 4-0 to Uruguay in their opening fixture (Photo by Douglas Magno/AFP/Getty Images)

Jose Quintero was sent off in Ecuador’s game against Uruguay and he will be unavailable for selection against Chile. There are no other injury concerns for manager Gomez, but after the dismal display last time out, there could be a couple of changes made for the upcoming fixture.

In goal, Alexander Dominguez should feature ahead of Maximo Banguera once again. But, Pedro Velasco is set to start at right-back in place of Quintero, while the manager might opt to start Robert Arboleda at centre-back ahead of Arturo Mina, who scored an own goal last time out. He will partner Gabriel Achilier at the heart of the defence. Bedar Caicedo is expected to hold on to his spot at left-back.

Jefferson Orejuela and Jefferson Intriago will once again be tasked with screening their defence effectively from the centre of the park. A more efficient display will be expected of the duo after the disappointment against Uruguay. Arturo Mena, who started as the No. 10 in the last game might be sacrificed in favour of Carlos Gruezo in order to add more steel to the midfield.

Up ahead, seasoned campaigner Antonio Valencia should hold on to his spot on the right flank, while Angel Preciado is likely to make way for Romario Ibarra on the left-side. Enner Valencia should continue to spearhead the attack for La Tricolor against Chile.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dominguez; Velasco, Arboleda, Achilier, Caicedo; Orejuela, Gruezo, Intriago; Antonio Valencia, Enner Valencia, Romario Ibarra

Chile

Chile made a winning start to their Copa America defence (Photo by Alessandra Cabral/Getty Images)

Chile made a winning start to their Copa America defence (Photo by Alessandra Cabral/Getty Images)

No changes are expected from Reinaldo Rueda after his side’s resounding victory against Japan in their tournament-opener. Gabriel Arias will continue to man the goal for Chile and will be guarded a four-man backline comprising of Mauricio Isla and Jean Beausejour as the full-backs with Gary Medel and Guillermo Maripan as the centre-halves.

Erick Pulgar was preferred ahead of Esteban Pavez at the base of the midfield last time out and that is unlikely to change come Friday night. He will once again be partnered by Bayer Leverkusen star Charles Aranguiz, who got two assists in the last game.

Barcelona superstar Arturo Vidal, who finds his club future under some uncertainty, will take up the No. 10 slot for Chile and look to cause problems to the opposition with his energy and physicality. Support from the flanks will come from Jose Pedro Fuenzalida and Alexis Sanchez, who scored and assisted a goal last time out.

Leading the line for La Roja will be Eduardo Vargas, who grabbed a brace against Japan and will look to build upon that display against Ecuador, with Nicolas Castillo offering a solid option from the bench for Rueda.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Arias; Isla, Medel, Maripan, Beausejour; Aranguiz, Pulgar; Fuenzalida, Vidal, Sanchez; Vargas

Key Stats

  • This will be the 54th meeting between Ecuador and Chile. In the previous encounters between the two nations in the past, Chile have come out on top on 29 occasions, while Ecuador have triumphed on just 12 occasions.
  • The last time these two teams met was in October 2017, in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Chile beat Ecuador 2-1 on that occasion.
  • Chile have lost just one of their fourteen matches against Ecuador in the Copa America till date (W12 D1). The defeat came over twenty years ago, in 1997.
  • Following their defeat to Uruguay, Ecuador are without a victory in their previous five matches (D2 L3).
  • There has been no drawn game between Chile and Ecuador since their World Cup qualifier clash way back in 2005. In the ten meetings since that match, both teams have picked up five victories each.

Player to Watch

Alexis Sanchez

Will Alexis Sanchez fire Chile to a win over Ecuador? (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Will Alexis Sanchez fire Chile to a win over Ecuador? (Photo by Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)

With 125 international appearances against his name, Alexis Sanchez is the most-capped player for Chile. The Manchester United superstar also happens to be the all-time leading goal-scorer for La Roja, having netted 42 goals till date.

The 30-year-old Sanchez came into this edition of Copa America low on confidence and form, after having endured a disappointing 2018-19 term at club level, managing just 2 goals and 4 assists from 27 matches across all competitions for Manchester United.

However, he got off to a brilliant start, bagging a goal and assist apiece against Japan last time out. After his encouraging display against the Blue Samurai, the Manchester United superstar will be aiming to build on the momentum and lead his team to another victory against Ecuador.

Prediction

Ecuador 0-2 Chile

Ecuador had been in poor form heading into the Copa America and were at the receiving end of a mauling at the hands of Uruguay in their opening fixture. Chile, on the other hand, had been inconsistent leading up to the competition, but stepped up when it mattered, dispatching Japan with ease in their opener.

With Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sanchez in form and the defence performing well, it is hard to see Ecuador presenting much of a challenge for this Chile side. And as a result, we at The Hard Tackle are backing La Roja to emerge victorious and take a step towards the next round.

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