Ecuador vs Senegal predictions: La Tri to seal knockout berth
- Ecuador have lost only one of their last 17
- Senegal have won one of their last three at a World Cup
- Recommended bet: Back Ecuador to win
Ecuador would have been disappointed to have only come away with a draw in their Group A clash with the Netherlands, but a repeat result against Senegal would see them through to the knockout stages.
The South Americans were comfortable 2-0 winners over hosts Qatar in their World Cup curtain-raiser before being frustrated in a 1-1 draw by the group-topping Dutch.
Ecuador went behind to the Netherlands through Cody Gakpo’s goal after just six minutes but were brilliant from then onwards, winning the shot count 15-2 and equalising through Enner Valencia.
This is a must-win game for Senegal, who can replace Ecuador in the knockout stages with maximum points.
The Lions of Teranga limped to a 2-0 loss to the Netherlands in their first game before running out 3-1 winners over Qatar, albeit they have looked vulnerable without the services of injured talisman Sadio Mane.
Ecuador will be sweating on the fitness of star striker Valencia, who has scored all three of their tournament goals.
Valencia was taken off on a stretcher during the 1-1 draw with the Dutch but reports suggest that was more for caution and they are confident he can start their final group game.
Sebas Mendez is suspended, however, so Jose Cifuentes or Carlos Gruezo are competing for his place in the La Tri midfield.
Senegal’s most important player Mane was ruled out pre-tournament and Nottingham Forest’s Cheikhou Kouyate is set to miss out again.
That could mean the African nation are unchanged from the team that beat Qatar as they are not suffering from any fresh injury concerns.
Ecuador’s draw with the Dutch means they have now lost only one of their last 17 internationals, with six of their last nine games now finishing level.
Each of their last nine games have featured two or fewer goals, though, so it may be unruly to expect a classic World Cup encounter.
Especially as Senegal have also seen two or fewer goals netted in five of their last six internationals.
Valencia is Ecuador’s record leading goalscorer of all-time with him netting 38 goals from 76 caps and he has scored all three of their World Cup goals in Qatar.
This is virtually a knockout game for Senegal, who have to win to qualify, while a draw will be enough to see Ecuador make the last 16.
However, Ecuador have been by far the more impressive of the pair and they still have to believe they can finish top at the Netherlands’ expense.
Doing so may ensure they avoid England in knockout stages.
With brilliant Bayern forward Mane on the sidelines, Senegal have sometimes looked short on ideas in the final third and even in their 3-1 win over Qatar they showed a vulnerability that better opposition could punish.
Ecuador seem optimistic that Valencia will be fit to start and that gives them a significant edge in forward areas.
Gustavo Alfaro’s side have looked full of energy and they can exploit a Senegal side that are under pressure to go for broke.
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