HomeSportsPreview: Ecuador vs. Italy - prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Ecuador vs. Italy – prediction, team news, lineups


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Sports Mole previews Sunday’s friendly clash between Ecuador and Italy, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Both winners in their opening Stateside friendly, Ecuador and Italy will meet at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena on Sunday.

While the Azzurri saw off Venezuela in Miami, their South American counterparts continued building up to the Copa America by beating Guatemala.

Match preview

© Reuters

Currently preparing to defend their European title this summer, Italy came out on top in their first game in the USA for nearly two decades, with a 2-1 defeat of Venezuela kicking off a brief American adventure on Thursday evening.

After much-criticised goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made an early penalty save and also kept out the follow-up, Genoa striker Mateo Retegui opened the scoring in Miami, then went on to restore the Azzurri’s lead once Venezuela had pulled level.

The Argentina-born forward is one of several men jostling for places at Euro 2024, when Italy will take part in an eighth successive European Championship finals – and despite the subsequent setback of missing out on another World Cup, they are intent on repeating their 2021 triumph at Wembley.

At the end of last year, La Nazionale overcame the loss of former boss Roberto Mancini and edged through to Germany without requiring a nerve-jangling playoff, pipping Ukraine to second spot behind Group C winners England.

This month’s friendlies have been arranged so coach Luciano Spalletti can carefully assess his options for the summer, when Spain, Croatia and Albania will await in the group stage.

Between now and then, Italy must first tackle Ecuador, before meetings with Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina provide their final warm-up for the Euros.

Ecuador applauds fans after the match on September 8, 2023© Reuters

Like their next opponents, Ecuador are focused on events during June and July, when they will be hoping to break new ground in the Copa America.

In nearly a century of trying, La Tri have never finished higher than fourth in CONMEBOL’s continental championship, but they may have the tools to do so upon their return to America this summer.

A squad featuring all-time top scorer Enner Valencia, Moises Caicedo and Chelsea-bound Kendry Paez went unbeaten in their final five World Cup qualifying fixtures of 2023, and they are on course to make consecutive appearances at football’s global gathering.

Sitting fifth in the standings, with each of the top six nations earning an automatic berth at the expanded 2026 edition, Ecuador are proving a force to be reckoned with under Spanish manager Felix Sanchez Bas; after Thursday’s 2-0 win over Guatemala, La Tri have suffered just one loss in 10 competitive fixtures – and that was to world champions Argentina.

Ahead of their second friendly fixture at the Red Bull Arena, they have also kept clean sheets in four straight games, so Italy are sure to be fully tested on Sunday.

Ecuador friendly form:

Ecuador form (all competitions):

Italy friendly form:

Italy form (all competitions):

Team News

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti reacts on October 14, 2023© Reuters

Italy captain Gianluigi Donnarumma may have saved a spot kick on Thursday night, but Atalanta BC goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi and Tottenham Hotspur’s Guglielmo Vicario are both aiming to make their first senior start against Ecuador.

Should Luciano Spalletti decide to rotate his resources, players such as Matteo Darmian, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Federico Dimarco could be promoted to the Azzurri’s starting XI, while Roma centre-back Gianluca Mancini is also hopeful, after stepping in when Francesco Acerbi was withdrawn due to an accusation of racism.

Mancini’s clubmate Bryan Cristante was left in Italy to undergo treatment for a longstanding back problem, joining long-term absentee Domenico Berardi on the sidelines.

Up front, Giacomo Raspadori is the main contender to displace midweek matchwinner Mateo Retegui – both Gianluca Scamacca and Ciro Immobile were not selected.

Meanwhile, Ecuador coach Felix Sanchez Bas was rewarded for giving John Yeboah his first cap against Guatemala, as the Germany-born winger scored after just eight minutes.

Several senior stars should return to La Tri’s lineup in New Jersey, with Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupinan and Piero Hincapie all likely to feature from the start. Teenage sensation Kendry Paez is sure to be offered a chance to impress at some stage.

Ecuador possible starting lineup: Dominguez; Ortiz, Hurtado, Ordonez, Hincapie, Estupinan; Yeboah, M. Caicedo, Cifuentes, Sarmiento; Valencia

Italy possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Darmian, Mancini, Bastoni; Bellanova, Barella, Jorginho, Dimarco; Pellegrini, Zaniolo; Raspadori

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We say: Ecuador 1-1 Italy

While Italy are still a work in progress, they should possess enough guile to unlock Ecuador’s increasingly mean defence – but La Tri can be expected to score too. With one eye on the summer, both managers may experiment during the second half, so a draw represents a decent result for either side.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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