Ecuador vs Senegal Prediction
29th November 2022
18:00 Qatar Time/15:00 GMT
Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
World Cup Head-to-Head Record
Played:1 Iran Wins:1
Ecuador vs Senegal Prediction Match Overview
Ecuador vs Senegal will, in all likelihood, determine which team joins the Netherlands in the last 16. Ecuador submitted a very spirited display against the Dutch in the previous game. They switched to three at the back, which initially seemed like a defensive move. However, after a rocky start where they conceded to an early Cody Gakpo goal, the South Americans came back into it and, in truth, were the better team for large spells. A Pervis Estupinan finish was ruled out just before half-time. However, Enner Valencia finished from close range in the second half after Estupinan’s shot was saved. They will therefore come into this match with confidence.
Senegal were disappointed with their loss to the Dutch in their opening game. However, they recovered well to defeat hosts Qatar in their second match. Goals on either side of half-time by Boulaye Dia and Famara Diedhiou gave them a 2-0 lead. Qatar then stunned the Africans when Mohammed Muntari scored the Asian nation’s first-ever World Cup goal with a header. However, Bamba Dieng made the result safe in the 84th minute. Senegal haven’t played particularly well in the tournament and might be nervous entering this game.
The Netherlands will likely beat Qatar in the other game in round 3 of Group A. Therefore, with the hosts already eliminated, Ecuador vs Senegal seems like it will be a straight shootout for the other qualification place. Ecuador enter the game on four points and Senegal on three, so a draw will see Ecuador qualify. In contrast, the Africans must win to ensure their spot in the round of 16 unless something dramatic happens in the other match.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play: Valencia (Ecuador); Ballo-Toure (Senegal)
Will not play: Mendez (Ecuador); Kouyate (Senegal)
Ecuador vs Senegal Prediction Analysis
Ecuador will likely continue with the three-at-the-back system, which was successful against the Netherlands. Jackson Porozo will, therefore, likely remain as the third centre-back. Sebastian Mendez is suspended in midfield. As he came on in the first game, Jose Cifuentes will probably start. Valencia might be able to start, but he might not make it or might only be able to, at best, start on the bench. Hence, Jeremy Sarmiento or Romario Ibarra will likely start, and Michael Estrada can play as a lone striker. Valencia could be a wild card in the second half if fit enough.
Senegal will likely play the same team after Famara Diedhiou did quite well. They need to win this game, so they should be very attacking at some stage. Ismail Jakobs impressed as a left-back against Qatar, and we think he will start again. In Diedhiou, Dia, Krepin Diatta, and Ismaila Sarr, the African Champions should have a good threat in attack.
The Midfield Battle
The midfield contest will be an integral part of Ecuador vs Senegal. Moises Caicedo and Idrissa Gueye are at different stages of their careers. However, they are two of the more dynamic and impressive midfielders in the English Premier League. We expect this match to be physical, with Caicedo and Gueye battling for midfield supremacy. It is imperative that they get on the ball and string some passes together to try to control the match. Senegal will likely play a 4-4-2, but one of the forwards should drop deep to make it a three in midfield. Nampalys Mendy will also have to do plenty of work in the defensive midfield position. He must cover runs from the Ecuador front players and receive the ball from the centre-backs to distribute and keep the game ticking over. Cifuentes and Caicedo are also capable of controlling this game, and Caicedo’s crisp passing and ability to drive from deep will test Gueye and N Mendy’s stamina and physicality. Whoever comes out on top in midfield will give their team the platform to win the game. We see it being feisty, ebbing and flowing, with both teams having their spells. Both these teams generally like to concede the ball and be direct, so we see neither team having an overwhelming share of the possession.
The Wide Areas
The width will also be crucial in this match. Ecuador have a few very buzzy and tricky players who can operate in wider areas, including Gonzalo Plata, Romario Ibarra, and Jeremy Sarmiento. Plata has looked good in this tournament. His dribbling will be vital when Jakobs and Youssouf Sabaly push forward from full-back for Senegal. Plata demonstrated his ability to come inside on his left foot against the Netherlands when he crashed a shot off the bar. Therefore, Sarmiento and Plata’s pace on the counter and cleverness in tight areas are potential avenues for Ecuador to exploit. The Senegalese midfielders, particularly Nampalys Mendy, will have to be wary and cover these spaces, as will the full-backs. They cannot allow Plata and Sarmiento or Ibarra to come inside onto the Senegal centre-backs. Furthermore, Pervis Estupinan and Angelo Preciado are lively full-backs who will come forward at every opportunity to link play and deliver crosses.
Equally, Senegal have clever wide men of their own. Krepin Diatta and Ismaila Sarr will operate left and right for Senegal. They switched against Qatar after Diatta played right and Sarr left against the Netherlands. They will keep the Ecuadorians guessing which sides they will start on. They must take on Estpuinan and Precidado and try to come inside onto the three-player defence. Transitions will also be critical when the Ecuador full-backs are out of position. Defender Piero Hincapie will likely be vital in organising his backline. Indeed, the young centre-back has already shown outstanding leadership and quality for Ecuador in this tournament.
Senegal’s Likely Need to Win
Senegal certainly must win unless something crazy happens in the other game, and Qatar comfortably defeat the Netherlands. If Ecuador vs Senegal remains level deep into the second half, the Africans will have to expose themselves. They then risk being hit on the counter by this direct Ecuador team. Ecuador rarely concede goals, so Senegal have their work cut out in trying to score. Through their front men, wingers, and Idrissa Gueye, they do carry a threat. Dia and Sarr, in particular, possess pace and a good shot. The injury to talismanic wide man Sadio Mane before the tournament has hit them temrendously hard, though. Chances for Senegal may be at a premium, so when they do come along, they must take them to have any chance of qualifying for the knockout phase.
Ecuador Key Players
Estupinan has been excellent in the first two games. He constantly got forward and has been a real menace down the Ecuadorian left flank. Estupinan has also been solid defensively. In this game, he will come up against Sarr or Diatta (or both). The left-back must try to pin them back and carry the same attacking threat he has throughout the tournament. He has proved that he has intelligent link-up, a good cross and a powerful shot. Ecuador will likely try to win the game, as playing for a draw is risky. Hence, Estupinan’s relentless energy on the left-hand side will be crucial to their game plan.
Plata will likely play off the right-hand side as he has in the first two games. He is a dangerous player when he dribbles at opponents, tries to beat them, and cuts inside on his left foot to shoot. He will be up against Jakobs in this match. Jakobs is an attacking left-back, so there may be spaces behind him for Plata to exploit. Plata has also demonstrated playmaking ability in coming deep to knit play together. He is an intelligent player, and, like Estupinan, a good performance from him will be vital for his nation if they are to win in Ecuador vs Senegal.
Senegal Key Players
We think Ecuador will take the game to Senegal, so the Senegalese defence must hold firm. They must prevent the Ecuadorians from creating too much in the Senegal defensive third. Koulibaly is critical here as he is one of the most high-profile defenders in the tournament. He must stop Plata from coming inside and beating him for pace or across the ground. He must also beware of Caicedo driving into the box and Estrada’s runs in the area. Above all, Koulibaly must command his box well and communicate with his backline to close gaps. Indeed, there will likely be spells of intense Ecuador pressure and clever movement that he must control.
Despite believing the midfield battle will be important in this match, we haven’t named a central midfielder among the four key players. The reason is that we think there will be goalmouth action as both teams will likely attack. In this respect, Dia will be vital for Senegal. Dia is one of their best goalscorers, and he will look to make runs to receive slide-rule passes and through balls from Gueye, Sarr, and Diatta. He can also run the channels to increase numbers when Estupinan and Preciado go forward for Ecuador. Dia also has decent pace, so his movement on transitions will be beneficial. Overall, in Mane’s absence, there is some reliance on Dia to score the goals Senegal need to win this game and advance to the round of 16.
Ecuador vs Senegal Prediction
It is not easy to call a game such as Ecuador vs Senegal. Both teams are closely matched, though Ecuador have slightly better players, in our estimation. The South Americans will likely take the game to the Africans, as they won’t want to run the risk of playing for a draw. Senegal, in a sense, have the more straightforward assignment, as they know they have to win as they can’t rely on favours from Qatar against the Netherlands. Therefore, Senegal might be cautious for a while. However, they will throw everything at Ecuador in the second half if the score is still level. We believe Ecuador will win a topsy-turvy match, perhaps with a late counter-attack winner as Senegal desperately seek victory.