With both sides losing their opening World Cup 2014 matches, the pressure is now on both Ecuador and Honduras to lead the American charge for a place in the last 16 from Group E.
Ecuador fought valiantly against Switzerland before going down to a last-minute Haris Seferovic strike, while 10-man Honduras were outplayed by France in a 3-0 defeat.
However, both sides will fancy their chances of making amends in Curitiba on Friday, with the tie’s loser set to be all but eliminated from the tournament.
Venue: Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
Date: Friday, June 20
Time: 11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET
TV Info: ITV1/ESPN (US)
Both Managers Looking to Heap Misery on Former Employers
In one of the most bizarre twists in World Cup history, both of Friday’s managers will be looking to orchestrate victories against sides they’ve previous led at World Cups.
Luis Fernando Suarez, who took charge of Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup, is in the Honduras hot seat, while Reinaldo Rueda, the current Ecuador manager, took Honduras to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Despite both nations holding a candle in the managers’ hearts, neither side will be backing down in Curitiba on Friday, with Rueda revealing his side will be going for the win—per The Guardian:
“I had great times in Honduras, but now I’m here and as always I must go for the win. Honduras are a great team, we all know their ability. They didn’t start well, but they want and they need to win as much as we do.”
Saying Honduras didn’t start well may just win the understatement of the World Cup prize—they simply didn’t have an answer to France’s brilliance in Porto Alegre.
As they weren’t able to cope with what the French had to offer, they resorted to fouling tactics and were a man lighter just before the interval after Wilson Palacios was sent off for two bookable offences, leaving the Mirror’s Ollie Holt to remark on the Hondurans’ brutal approach via Twitter:
Comforting to see that Honduras were not singling out England in Miami last weekend: they're booting France all over the pitch, too— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) June 15, 2014
Palacios will be suspended for the crunch Group E match with Ecuador, giving the South Americans a big advantage in the middle of midfield.
Though Ecuador don’t possess the footballing class of France, they showed during their loss to the Swiss that they can certainly make an impact at this World Cup.
Suarez’s side dominated for large spells of the match and held the lead at half-time thanks to Enner Valencia’s 22nd-minute header—his fifth international goal in five matches, according to Fox Soccer:
The 2-1 loss was harsh on Ecuador but a similar performance against Honduras should see them record a victory and keep their dreams of knockout-stage progression just about alive.
Key Stats and Prediction
Honduras and Ecuador have met just 13 times in their respective histories but never in a competitive match. In those matches, there have been eight draws.
Honduras haven’t scored a World Cup goal since 1982, when they drew 1-1 with Northern Ireland in Zaragoza thanks to Tony Laing’s goal—per The Guardian.
Meanwhile, Ecuador have won just one of their last eight international fixtures, according to SoccerWay, dating back to October 2013.
Though Honduras will pose a real physical test for Ecuador, their footballing advantage will tell by the final whistle.
With the firepower of Valencia up front and the wing ability of his namesake Antonio, the Ecuadorians have enough about them to see off the Honduran challenge.
Prediction: Honduras 0-1 Ecuador