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Ecuador vs. France - World Cup 2014 Preview

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Ecuador vs. France
Match Date: 25 June 2014 (local time)
Match Venue: Estadio Jornalista Mário Filho (Maracanã) (Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro)

Ecuador

Ecuador face an uphill task if they are to overcome a rampant French side. Jefferson Montero had an excellent game against Honduras and will probably represent Ecuador’s best chance of exposing France; especially considering how badly French full-back Patrice Evra was exposed on numerous occasions for Manchester United this season. Christian Noboa and Frickson Erazo will need to tighten up dramatically in this match as they let Honduras get off sixteen attempts on goal last time out. This French side will eat those opportunities alive. Enner Valencia has been a goal scoring phenomenon in this tournament and blazed his way to an early lead on the Golden Boot charts (pre-Neymar heroics). Antonio Valencia has yet to truly ignite at this year’s World Cup and will need a gargantuan performance to contain the brilliant French midfield. I just don’t believe Ecuador have the firepower or defensive cohesion to contain this incarnation of the most unpredictable nation in FIFA World Cup history.

France

Seriously, the most unpredictable. 1998 - FIFA World Champions. 2002 - Ignominious first round exit. 2006 - FIFA World Cup finalists. 2010 - Mass mutiny and another first round exit. Who knows what is in store for Les Bleus this year? French supporters may have feared for the worst when Franck Ribery pulled out of the tournament injured, particularly considering the controversial omission of the Manchester City playmaker Samir Nasri. Didier Deschamps, however, has debunked popular thinking and fashioned an exciting, youthful French side that seems to be uncharacteristically serene. It will be interesting to see whether Deschamps elects to continue with Giroud and Benzema up front, especially considering that a point will see them safely through as group winners. Sakho’s injury looked fairly serious the other night, which may necessitate the inclusion of Laurent Koscielny alongside Varane. With that slight defensive destabilisation in mind, Deschamps may elect to revert to a slightly more defensive formation, relegating Giroud to a place on the bench. Griezmann may come in for the industrious Matuidi as Deschamps looks to continue his rotation policy and keep the side fresh. Paul Pogba may come in to bolster the midfield, allowing both Cabaye and Valbuena more license to get up and assist Benzema. The French midfield is so rich in goal scoring flair that this move does little to detract from what is slowly becoming a true tournament dark-horse.

World Cup 2014 Betting tips: France

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