Goalkeepers: Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito), Maximo Banguera (Barcelona), Adrian Bone (El Nacional);
Defenders: Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Flamengo), Jorge Guagua (Emelec), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona);
Midfielders: Segundo Castillo (Al Hilal), Carlos Gruezo (Stuttgart), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem), Fidel Martinez (Tijuana), Edison Mendez (Santa Fe), Christian Noboa (Dynamo Moscow), Luis Saritama (Barcelona), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United);
Forwards: Jaime Ayovi (Tijuana), Felipe Caicedo (Al-Jazira), Jefferson Montero (Morelia), Joao Rojas (Cruz Azul), Enner Valencia (Pachuca), Michael Arroyo (Atlante).
Ecuador booked their place in Brazil by finishing 4th in the CONCACAF qualifying, pipping a much fancied Uruguay team for that final automatic qualifying place. The worrying thing for them when it comes to the tournament, however, will be that their qualification was secured on the back of imperious home form, winning all but one match on their own turf. Their away form on the other hand, was non-existent, and given the fact that this is a World Cup not taking place in Ecuador, it’s something they’ll have to overcome fast if they have any hopes of making the last 16. Group E isn’t the toughest, with Ecuador’s opponents consisting of Switzerland, France and Honduras, so while Ecuador would have stood no chance in most groups, in this one they may have a flicker of hope.
There’s a notable lack of star quality amongst the Ecuadorian thirty, with Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia probably the only household name to British readers. It’s telling how few of their players ply their trade in the European leagues, and while this isn’t necessarily terminal, it’s ominous that not a single defender in their squad has made it across the Atlantic to where the big paycheques live. While they have a few players of potential in midfield like Renato Ibarra and Segundo Castillo, weakness at the back is likely to cost them. Valencia is the star player almost by default, although I don’t think he’ll be putting the fear of god into Ecuador’s rivals at this tournament. It’s been a hard couple of years for ‘Tony V’ at Manchester United, and he could well find himself shown the door at Old Trafford this summer. Perhaps he’ll view this World Cup as a chance to put himself in the shop window.
Group stage. They turned up the odds in the qualifying rounds, but it’s hard to see Ecuador making it past the group stages, even factoring in their relatively weakened group. The Swiss had an excellent qualifying campaign and have found themselves very high in the world rankings, but it’s been a while since they actually turned up and did it in a tournament; Ecuador will need them and France to bottle it to stand any chance. I wouldn’t put any kind of implosion past the French, but the smart money is on the two Europeans making it out of this group, and Ecuador missing out, bearing in mind their inability to play in any stadium that is not their own.