Brazil vs Ecuador
Brazil will be busy hosting the Copa America in just a couple of weeks. But before they begin their title defence on home soil, they must first host Ecuador for the first of two World Cup 2022 qualifying matches on their schedule.
The Selecao have made a brilliant start to their qualifying campaign; they top the table with four wins out of four, and the World Cup 2022 betting odds have them favoured to extend that perfect start against Ecuador.
However, Tite’s side could have more trouble than expected against La Tricolor, who have had a surprisingly strong start to qualifying under their new manager.
Brazil off to unbeaten start
Brazil have taken care of business thus far in World Cup qualifying. They have claimed a perfect four wins out of four and are two points clear of rivals Argentina at the top of the table. Their most recent win was a 2-0 victory over Uruguay, who were without star striker Luis Suarez.
However, Brazil were without Neymar as well as star goalkeeper Alisson. The two are back in the side, though, as Tite has selected a star-studded squad ahead of the Copa America.
Captain Thiago Silva and Marquinhos are expected to start in the heart of the Brazil backline which has kept three clean sheets in four qualifying matches thus far.
Casemiro is favoured to start over Fabinho in defensive midfield, while Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz – who has started the first four qualifiers – is likely to keep his place. The third midfield place remains in doubt, so Tite will get a chance to test the likes of Fred or Lucas Paqueta in that role before the Copa.
As for the attack, Neymar is a sure-fire starter. The PSG superstar has a sensational record for his country with 64 goals in 103 caps. Tite will then decide who among the trio of Roberto Firmino, Richarlison, and Gabriel Jesus will grab the two remaining forward spots.
Firmino should be favoured to claim one of those two spots, though. The Liverpool man is tied with Neymar for the team lead with three goals thus far in qualifying. That includes the winning goal in their 1-0 victory over Venezuela in their last home match.
Ecuador flying high under new boss
Ecuador have made an excellent start to their World Cup 2022 campaign. After losing their opener 1-0 away to Argentina, La Tri have won their last three games and are currently third in the standings. Their huge home wins against Uruguay (4-2) and Colombia (6-1) have been especially eye-catching.
Manager Gustavo Alfaro has made a massive impact since his arrival in August 2020. La Tri have won four of his five matches thus far.
Despite not having a world-class player in the squad, Ecuador are currently the leading scorers in CONMEBOL with 13 goals through four games. Michael Estrada has produced most of the team’s World Cup 2022 highlights thus far with three goals, and he also scored in their 2-1 friendly win over Bolivia in the end of March.
Enner Valencia, the country’s all-time co-leading scorer with 31 goals in just 56 caps, is in Alfaro’s squad for their upcoming qualifiers. However, the 31-year-old striker has not featured in their recent matches and has also not scored for his country since November 2019.
Left-back Pervis Estupiñán of newly crowned Europa League champions Villarreal has been a regular in the side since Alfaro took over and will be a threat on the left-hand side.
Angel Mena has also been ever-present for Alfaro. The 33-year-old has six goals in 25 caps, including two during this qualifying campaign, and will offer support to Estrada and/or Valencia from midfield.
Brazil have an absolutely dominant record against Ecuador. The Selecao have won 26 out of their 32 meetings, with La Tri winning just twice.
Brazil have won seven out of their last nine matches against Ecuador. They won both matches in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, including a 2-0 win in Brazil.
Ecuador have not beaten Brazil since winning 1-0 at home in a World Cup qualifying match in November 2004. They also won at home by the same scoreline in another World Cup qualifier in 2001.
They have yet to ever defeat the Samba Boys in Brazil, which would make a win for La Tri an even more incredible achievement.