The team: Ecuador’s biggest strength is undoubtedly their home form. With an elevation of 9,350ft, Quito is the highest capital city in the world, and many visiting teams seem to struggle playing at the high-altitude national stadium. Ecuador’s qualifying form would support this theory; they beat every team at home, but failed to win at all on the road, and drew just three times. Yet this was enough to secure qualification with fourth place in the South American group, ahead of Uruguay. They also had to overcome the tragic death of striker Christian Benitez, who collapsed while playing for Qatari club El Jaish on July 29, 2013.
The coach: Reinaldo Rueda
Reinaldo Rueda has previous FIFA World Cup experience after impressively guiding Honduras to only their second appearance at the tournament in 2010. He’s repeated the trick with Ecuador and will be hoping to reach the second stage this time, but it’s a tall order.
Key player: Antonio Valencia
In a disappointing season for Manchester United, Antonio Valencia has been an almost constant presence. Whether that’s a good thing or not is open to debate, but if nothing else he’s consistent and versatile, which will surely benefit Ecuador.
World ranking: 28
World Cup appearances: 2
Previous best: Round of 16 in 2006
Qualification: Fourth in group
Form (qualifiers): DWDWLDLDWL
Fixtures: June 15 vs. Switzerland; June 20 vs. Honduras; June 26 vs. France