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Preview: Ecuador vs. Colombia - prediction, team news, lineups

Ecuador will be looking to secure their third victory on the bounce in CONMEBOL FIFA World Cup qualification when they face off against Colombia at the Estadio Rodrigo Paz Delgado on Tuesday.

In contrast, the visitors are aiming to recover from their crushing 3-0 defeat to Uruguay on matchday three and are two points adrift of their midweek opponents at this early stage.

Only a Lionel Messi penalty has been enough to overcome Ecuador in qualification so far, with Gustavo Alfaro's men notching up seven goals in their next two matches to storm into the top four of the fledgling CONMEBOL table.

Ecuador followed up their 4-2 victory over Uruguay with an equally-thrilling 3-2 triumph against Bolivia last Thursday, with Beder Caicedo, Angel Mena and Carlos Gruezo all finding the back of the net to propel Ecuador to their second win on the bounce.

It is still very early days, of course, but Ecuador's current third-placed standing would be enough to see them return to the big stage after failing to qualify for the finals in 2018, although Alfaro will certainly want to shore up his defence as the race to finish in the top four hots up.

There is the slightest chance that Ecuador could leapfrog Brazil and Argentina into top spot with a win here, but the two South American giants are certainly not expected to falter in their matches, although Ecuador are sure to go all out for a win before World Cup qualification resumes in March 2021.

Fans and neutrals alike would have been expecting a closely-fought battle between Colombia and Uruguay on matchday three. However, it was anything but as Uruguay notched up a trio of goals against the Tricolor to march to a resounding win.

Luis Suarez took his tally from 12 yards to four goals with another successful penalty, while Edinson Cavani and Darwin Nunez netted either side of Suarez's spot kick to ensure a comfortable victory for Uruguay against Colombia, who also had Yerry Mina sent off in the final few moments.

Carlos Queiroz will be desperate for his side to draw a line under that crushing loss as Colombia look to get their qualification campaign back on track against Ecuador, with the Tricolor also overcoming Venezuela and sharing the spoils with Chile early on.

The visitors' talent in attack is evident, but Colombia's effervescent front three of James Rodriguez, Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel will need to be firing on all cylinders if Colombia are to turn their fortunes around on matchday four.

Queiroz's men should feel capable of returning to winning ways against Ecuador, though, as Colombia have prevailed in seven of the last eight meetings between the two sides, during which time Ecuador have only breached the Tricolor defence twice.

Ecuador World Cup Qualifying - South America form: LWW
Ecuador form (all competitions): LWLLWW

Colombia World Cup Qualifying - South America form: WDL
Colombia form (all competitions): LWWWDL

Team News

Gruezo, whose spot-kick ensured Ecuador walked away with all three points against Bolivia, picked up his second caution of qualifying in that win and is suspended for this encounter.

Alan Franco would have been expected to come in for the Augsburg man, but the 22-year-old recently returned a positive coronavirus test along with Enner Valencia and Diego Palacios.

Jhegson Mendez could therefore be called upon to fill the midfield void in Gruezo's absence, while Renato Ibarra and Gonzalo Plata will be holding out for starts after coming off the bench in the win against Bolivia.

Colombia also have a suspension of their own to contend with following Mina's red card against Uruguay, although Davinson Sanchez should return after missing that defeat for the birth of his child.

Rangers forward Alfredo Morelos was given a run-out from the bench against Uruguay, but Queiroz is not expected to shuffle the pack too much despite the manner of their dismal loss on matchday three.

Ecuador possible starting lineup:
Dominguez; Preciado, Arreaga, Arbodela, B. Caicedo; Mena, M. Caicedo, Mendez, Estupinan; Plata, Estrada

Colombia possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Cuadrado, Sanchez, Murillo, Mojica; Lerma, Barrios, Uribe; Rodriguez, Zapata, Muriel

Source: SportsMole / Ben Knapton

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