Ecuadorian underdogs ready to provide more shocks
Ecuador were surprise qualifiers for Qatar 2022
We examine Gustavo Alfaro's tactics
His squad boasts an exciting crop of youngsters including Moises Caicedo
Clevpicks.com will introduce you the Ecuadorian national football team...
Ecuador came as something of a surprise in the South American qualifying process and appears to be more than capable of leaving their imprint at the next FIFA World Cup. With a team full of potential young players, Gustavo Alfaro's charges outperformed all predictions to earn one of the automatic tickets to the Qatar showpiece in advance of other countries that, at least on paper, seemed to have more talent. As the Ecuadorians outperformed regional powerhouses Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Paraguay to secure a spot in the international football festival, that campaign provided a number of historic occurrences, including a first away victory over Chile.
Those in the Ecuadorian camp were cautiously optimistic following the group-stage draw in April. The South Americans will have the honor of taking the field in the tournament's opening match on November 20 when they face the hosts Qatar. They will then compete for a position in the final 16 with Senegal and the Netherlands.
La Tri's first goal is to get out of Group A. They have a strong, young team that includes a few up-and-coming players who showcase their skills for Europe's top teams and a coach who knows how to get the best out of each and every one of his players to make Ecuador an increasingly competitive force. The national team's best-ever performance would be reaching the Round of 16, and a triumph there would be the most illustrious chapter in the history of the country.
Even though Ecuador will undoubtedly have their job cut out for them, they have no shortage of faith in their capacity to at least raise a few eyebrows on Arab territory. Under the guidance of its world-class coach, the team has what it takes to advance through the group stage, but they will need to step up their game in the last third if they want to advance to the knockout stage. Ecuador has the ability to leave a lasting impression at the upcoming FIFA World Cup. Their rivals should pay attention.
Ecuador’s Group A fixtures
Ecuador-Qatar (19:00 local time, Al Bayt Stadium)
Ecuador-Netherlands (19:00, Khalifa International Stadium)
Ecuador-Senegal (18:00, Khalifa International Stadium)
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China PR, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea Republic, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Vietnam, Zambia.
Alfaro's approach and tactics
When he leads Ecuador out in Qatar, the 60-year-old, who was born in the Argentinian city of Rafaela, will realize one of his professional goals. The veteran coach took over an Ecuador team in dire straits after they failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia following a successful managing career in his native country.
With Alfaro's appointment, two vengeful beasts that had been wounded came together. After guiding Boca Juniors to significant success, Alfaro's tenure came to an abrupt end after the Buenos Aires-based team was eliminated from the 2019 Copa Libertadores after losing to their sworn rivals River Plate at the semi-final stage.
His entrance sparked a revolution within the framework of the national team. Alfaro was able to re-engage a group of players who had lost interest in La Tri and put his trust in a group of young stars who had already proven themselves in Ecuadorian football and the national youth teams, with the Independiente del Valle production line serving as a particularly potent source of talent.
Alfaro's pragmatic tactical approach, the contagious enthusiasm of the new players, and the presence of some seasoned performers, like Enner Valencia, combine to create an intensely competitive team that demonstrates the defensive tenacity for which the coach is renowned, while also encouraging the creativity and flair offered by the stars at his disposal. Due to a well-oiled system and a setup that gave its rising stars the freedom to shine, Ecuador surprised everyone during qualifying. Alfaro has achieved hero status in Ecuador as a result of his achievement in reviving the players' sense of pride in playing for the national team and eliminating many of the labels linked to the side.
DOHA, QATAR - APRIL 01: Gustavo Alfaro the head coach / manager of Ecuador arrives ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final Draw at Doha Exhibition Center on April 1, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Key player: Moises Caicedo
The ascent of Caicedo occurred at the same time Gustavo Alfaro held the helm of Ecuador. The midfielder is the star of the national team and is expected to be among the most talented young players at the World Cup, where he will compete just after turning 21.
One of the first choices the Argentine coach made was to install Moises as his key man in the engine room. Moises had already secured his big move to Europe after making a splash at Independiente del Valle. Alfaro continued to believe in the young player despite his struggles with form in his early years at Brighton, which led to him being loaned to Beerschot in Belgium's first division. Since then, the player has developed into one of the most important members of the national squad.
In the English Premier League, Caicedo has established himself as one of the most interesting young players. The young player is a flexible talent who can play either as a box-to-box midfielder, where he can control the pace of games, or as one of the most important members of a Brighton team that has had an incredible start to the season. Many of Europe's top clubs are vying for his talents right now, but Chelsea seem to be in the best position to land him after the London club hired Graham Potter, the man who brought the Ecuadorian to Brighton. It would come as no surprise if Caicedo won Qatar 2022's Best Young Player Award because he is the team's natural captain and a crucial component.
One to watch: Gonzalo Plata
Similar to the aforementioned Caicedo, Gonzalo Plata is a young player who has already distinguished himself as a key piece in Gustavo Alfaro's puzzle. Both players progressed through the Independiente del Valle junior system, and Plata has already excelled for his country on the international stage. The flashy winger played for Ecuador, which placed second at the 2019 South American Youth Football Championship. He also received the adidas Bronze Ball at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019, where he made a significant contribution to La Tri's third-place finish, and his impressive performances led to a transfer to Portuguese powerhouse Sporting.
The kid then transferred to Real Valladolid of Spain's second division, where he solidified his place in the senior team by scoring three goals and providing three assists during the team's World Cup qualifying run. He is unstoppable in one-on-one battles and has an outstanding repertoire of flicks and tricks that allow him to single-handedly dismantle the opposing backline.
Plata has put all of his attention into on-field activities and worked hard to develop his creative side and his vision so that he can regularly set up his teammates. In an effort to remedy the obvious lack of attacking capability on the part of the national squad, Ecuador will be counting on Plata to perform.
Ecuador at the World Cup
The South Americans' fourth World Cup campaign will begin this year. The national team's best-ever performance at the tournament came in Germany in 2006, when they reached the Round of 16 after finishing behind the hosts and ahead of Poland and Costa Rica in the group stage. Gustavo Alfaro's team is returning to the top table of world football full of hope after missing the 2018 tournament in Russia.
The defeat to England in their round-of-16 match following David Beckham's free kick in the 60th minute signaled the end of Ecuador's chances. In what would be a mission of vengeance for two generations—the retired members of the 2006 team and those who grew up with terrible memories of that narrow defeat—La Tricolor could be set to renew friendships with the Three Lions in Qatar. Ecuador's past two World Cup appearances—in Korea/Japan in 2002 and Brazil in 2014—both ended in group stage failure. The national squad experienced a heartbreaking exit on Brazilian territory, where despite Valencia's three goals, they were eliminated in the group stage after losing to Switzerland, winning over Honduras, and drawing 0-0 with France in their final match.
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