Argentina face off against Ecuador in the Copa America quarter-final as La Albiceleste hope to reach the final four of the tournament.
Lionel Messi will be more motivated than ever to ensure he wins a major honour with Argentina during his time as a player. If they go on to win against Ecuador, they could face either Colombia or old foes Uruguay in the semi-finals. That said, there’s no room for La Albiceleste to consider Ecuador as pushovers; instead, the clash will be a challenging one for them to succeed.
Lionel Scaloni’s men are unbeaten in the tournament so far. They are also the side to concede the fewest goal alongside rivals Brazil. La Albiceleste will be hoping the players switch to top gear from here on to see through the tournament and win the trophy that has eluded them for a long time.
On the other hand, Ecuador scathed through the group stages with three draws and no wins. However, the 1-1 draw in their last group game against Brazil would have given them confidence going into the quarter-finals. Ecuador equalised against Brazil and held their ground to see out the game.
Unlike Brazil in that game, Argentina are unlikely to rest their incredible forwards, and Ecuador will have to be at their best defensively to stop Messi & co. As things stand, the pressure will truly be on La Tri to keep Argentina quiet, as one small sniff for the Albiceleste would be enough to start an onslaught.
Team News & Tactics
Lionel Scaloni started the tournament’s first two games with a 4-3-3 set-up, earning a draw and win. However, the team looked settled and balanced when they played with a no.10 in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Scaloni may not tamper with the formation and likely keep the same set-up, although personnel could change.
Rodrigo De Paul could return to the lineup in place of Exequiel Palacios and partner Guido Rodriguez in a double midfield pivot. Angel Di Maria could also come back in place of Angel Correa on the right side of the attack. Alejandro Gomez could retain his position after a string of impressive starts from the right.
At the back, Scaloni could reshuffle his pack with Nahuel Molina and Nicolas Tagliafico in the lineup in place of Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna. In central defence, there’s a tricky choice ahead of Scaloni, with Lisandro Martinez, Nicolas Otamendi and Cristian Romero all in contention. However, Scaloni could go with the experience of Otamendi and partner him with Romero at the heart of the backline.
Lionel Messi will play in a no.10 role rather than on the right side, leaving Di Maria to take up that position. Upfront Scaloni has a decision to make. He can choose either Sergio Aguero or Lautaro Martinez, although we suspect it will be the new Barcelona man Aguero.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): E.Martinez; Molina, Otamendi, Romero, Tagliafico; Rodriguez, De Paul; Di Maria, Messi, A.Gomez; Aguero
Gustavo Alfaro has some thinking to do before finalising his starting lineup against Argentina. Moises Caicedo’s injury in the last game poses a big problem for the Ecuador manager, who limped off early in the first half.
Angel Mena replaced Caicedo in the last game and scored the vital equaliser in the second half. Mena will retain his place and will likely partner with Jhegson Mendez in midfield. Alfaro would want to keep things compact again, similar to the Brazil game, meaning a 4-4-2 formation could be the answer.
Alan Franco and Diego Palacios will likely keep their places on either side of the central midfielders. In defence, Angelo Preciado and Pervis Estupinan are to be the two full-backs, supporting the centre-back duo of Robert Arboleda and Piero Hincapie. In attack, Enner Valencia and Eduar Preciado will keep their positions to lead the front line.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Galindez; A.Preciado, Arboleda, Hincapie, Estupinan; Franco, Mendez, Caicedo, Palacios; Valencia, Preciado
Argentina – D D W W W
Ecuador – L L D D D
- Argentina have won four of their last five games against Ecuador in all competitions.
- Ecuador are winless in their last six competitive games.
- Argentina are unbeaten in this Copa America, winning three and drawing one game. They have conceded the joint fewest goals in this edition of the Copa America alongside Brazil.
Player to Watch
Messi has played in three Copa America Final, a World Cup Final and lost all those games. The La Albiceleste captain will be sensing another opportunity to claim major honours for his county. Messi will be motivated enough to ensure Argentina do not miss out on this opportunity, and to this, a win over Ecuador is vital.
The Barcelona superstar will be hoping to inspire his team this time and hope they go all the way to another Final and win it this time around. However, his two goals in the last game will be a cursor to what we could expect of Messi for the rest of the tournament.
Argentina 2-0 Ecuador
Ecuador had their best performance in the last game against Brazil, however only earning a draw. Their display was one of character, and their defence, in particular, showed resilience. However, against Argentine attackers, they have to step up to another gear and hope Messi & Co. have a bad day in the office.
Argentina could keep their momentum from the last game, their most prolific match of the Copa America so far, and continue their march towards the next round. Messi will be key, so will be Aguero and Di Maria. Expect the Albiceleste to win this tie against Ecuador comfortably and go through to the next round with ease.