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Sep 2, 2021 at 10pm UK
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Preview: Ecuador vs. Paraguay - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Ecuador vs. Paraguay - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - South America clash between Ecuador and Paraguay, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Ecuador and Paraguay will both look to continue impressive World Cup Qualifying campaigns on Thursday, when they do battle in Quito.

The hosts currently occupy third spot in the South American group, while their visitors sit just two points behind in sixth place with a commendable tally of seven points from the first six outings.

Match preview

While Ecuador's World Cup Qualifying campaign started with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Argentina last year, they bounced back in style to record three straight victories.

Gustavo Alfaro's men began with an eye-catching 4-2 win over a heavily-fancied Uruguay side, before they scraped past Bolivia with a 3-2 victory and thrashed Colombia 6-1 thanks to goals from Robert Arboleda, Angel Mena, Michael Estrada, Xavier Arreaga, Gonzalo Plata and Pervis Estupinan.

However, their last two qualifying games resulted in defeat, as they firstly lost 2-0 to Brazil before falling to a 2-1 loss at the hands of Peru.

Alfaro's side then had a difficult Copa America campaign, as they failed to win a group game, but their tally of three points from four games saw them scrape through to the quarter-finals, only to be thrashed 3-0 by eventual winners Argentina.

La Tricolor will now hope to bounce back to winning ways to maintain their position in the top three of the South American qualifying group.

They take on a Paraguay side who have been noticeably difficult to defeat in recent years, and sit on seven points from their six qualifying games so far.

La Albirroja began the qualification campaign with a 2-2 draw against Peru, before they secured their first three-point haul with a 1-0 victory over Venezuela.

Eduardo Berizzo's side then played out three straight draws against Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay, before eventually being defeated 2-0 by Brazil in the last game before the summer's Copa America.

Paraguay had a relatively impressive group campaign, progressing to the quarter-finals with six points from four games, having only narrowly fallen to defeats at the hands of Uruguay and eventual winners Argentina.

Berizzo's men then met Peru in the knockout stage, and after a dramatic 3-3 draw, with Gabriel Avalos drawing them level in the dying minutes, they fell short in a penalty shootout.

With just three defeats inside 90 minutes since the beginning of 2020, La Albirroja have plenty to be positive about, and they will look to bounce back from the defeat to Brazil and their departure from the Copa America with another impressive result on Thursday in their bid to climb the qualifying table.

Ecuador World Cup Qualifying - South America form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L

Ecuador form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • L

Paraguay World Cup Qualifying - South America form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • L

Paraguay form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L

Team News

Ecuador will be without defender Piero Hincapie, who will serve a suspension after he was sent off in their most recent competitive match, the Copa America defeat to Argentina.

Their line will be led by experienced forward Enner Valencia, who needs just one goal to become the nation's all-time top scorer, as he currently sits level with Agustin Delgado on 31 goals.

Jhegson Mendez and Brighton & Hove Albion prospect Moises Caicedo should continue to partner up in midfield, having impressed as a duo at the Copa America.

Pervis Estupinan brings some important quality on the left-hand side of the back four, having won the Europa League with Villarreal last season.

Paraguay are without captain Gustavo Gomez, who will also serve a competitive suspension after being shown a red card when they were knocked out of the Copa America.

In his absence, former West Ham United man Fabian Balbuena will lead the back line alongside Atletico Mineiro defender Junior Alonso.

Their key man is arguably Newcastle United attacker Miguel Almiron, while Angel Romero also offers vital quality going forward.

Ecuador possible starting lineup:
Galindez; Preciado, Arboleda, Arreaga, Estupinan; Mena, Mendez, Caicedo, Estrada; Campana, Valencia

Paraguay possible starting lineup:
Silva; Espinola, Balbuena, Alonso, Arzamendia; A Romero, Villasanti, Sanchez, O Romero; Almiron, Perez

We say: Ecuador 1-1 Paraguay

Given their solid run of form, we see Paraguay earning a result on their travels, but do not expect them to take all three points from Ecuador.

La Albirroja largely pride themselves on being strong at the back, while Ecuador boast a talented side of their own, and we see the nations sharing the points on Thursday.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data

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