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Jun 20, 2021 at 10pm UK
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Preview: Venezuela vs. Ecuador - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Venezuela vs. Ecuador - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Copa America clash between Venezuela and Ecuador, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Venezuela and Ecuador will both go in search of their first win of the Copa America campaign on Sunday, when they square off in Rio de Janeiro.

Venezuela picked up a point in a goalless draw with Colombia last time out, after losing their opening game 3-0 to Brazil, while Ecuador lost their only match so far as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Colombia.

Match preview

Venezuela picked up an impressive point last time out, as they took on Colombia.

Despite having a long list of absentees through positive coronavirus tests, La Vinotinto held one of the favourites to qualify out of the group to a goalless draw in Goiania, as they kept their opponents, who had over 20 attempts at goal, out for the duration of the encounter.

That was an impressive comeback after a disappointing start to the campaign, as they were comfortably beaten 3-0 by host nation Brazil.

Centre-back Marquinhos opened the scoring for the pre-tournament favourites in the first half, and Neymar added a second goal from the penalty spot on the hour mark before he rounded the keeper to set up Gabriel Barbosa for a third goal in the dying minutes.

With Colombia and Brazil clear at the top of the group, Venezuela find themselves battling with Sunday's opponents and Peru for the final two qualification places, and a win over Ecuador should almost see them through, moving four points clear of La Tricolor.

Meanwhile, their opponents will look to put their first points of the tournament on the board to leapfrog Venezuela and move into pole position to reach the final eight.

In their only game of the tournament so far, Ecuador suffered a narrow defeat to Colombia in the first round of fixtures.

Edwin Cardona scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half time from a well-worked free kick to take all three points for his side.

That was a third straight defeat in all competitions for Gustavo Alfaro's men, having previously lost to Peru and Brazil in World Cup Qualifiers earlier in June.

However, they were only narrowly beaten by one of the group's strongest sides, and a victory on Sunday would quickly see La Tricolor move above their opponents and hugely boost their qualification bid, as four of the five sides in the group will progress.

Alfaro's men will undoubtedly come in with some confidence as they look to ensure they are one of those four sides reaching the quarter-finals.

Venezuela Copa America form:
  • L
  • D

Venezuela form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • D

Ecuador Copa America form:
  • L

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

Team News

The Venezuela camp was majorly hit by an outbreak of coronavirus at the beginning of the tournament, with Jose Peseiro having to call up another 15 players as a result.

Key men all over the pitch will continue to miss out through isolation, including talismanic forward Josef Martinez and midfielders Jefferson Savarino and Romulo Otero.

The defence has also taken a big hit, with Mikel Villanueva, Jhon Chancellor and experienced full-back Roberto Rosales all out of action after positive tests.

In the absence of those players, Fernando Aristeguieta should lead the line again with the support of wingers Jose Martinez and Cristian Casseres, while Francisco La Mantia, Luis Martinez and Luis Mago will continue to form the back three after an impressive clean sheet last time out.

Ecuador will be led by talisman Enner Valencia, who has netted 31 goals in 58 appearances for his nation.

Winger Gonzalo Plata earned himself a starting spot for the first Copa America game after he found the net in their final game prior to the tournament, and he should support the front line of Valencia and Michael Estrada again on Sunday.

Behind the front two, Ecuador boast an exciting midfield pairing, as Jhegson Mendez partners up alongside Brighton & Hove Albion prospect Moises Caicedo, who has made six international appearances at the age of 19.

Venezuela possible starting lineup:
Farinez; Gonzalez, La Mantia, L Martinez, Mago, Cumana; J Martinez, Moreno, Manzano, Casseres; Aristeguieta

Ecuador possible starting lineup:
Ortiz; Preciado, Arboleda, Hincapie, Estupinan; Plata, Caicedo, Mendez, Martinez; Estrada, Valencia

We say: Venezuela 1-1 Ecuador

While Venezuela are at a disadvantage with several major absentees, they showed plenty of resilience in a tough game against Colombia, and will definitely be tough to break down.

We see these sides sharing the points on Sunday, as Venezuela will be solid but may lack the firepower to put Ecuador to the sword, instead finishing as a low-scoring draw.

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:curl

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