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The story behind the surprising Ecuador, a team that is pure personality

We have been saying it for a long time: it is the football that has evolved the most in South America in the last 33 years. Above all, because of where it started from. The break occurred in the 1989 Copa América with Dusan Draskovic in technical command. First it was the replacement of the Creole player by the Afro-descendant, which gave him an imposing biotype; then came technical growth and finally this personality that we have seen for a long time. In the last twenty years, Ecuador has qualified for the same number of World Cups as Italy: four. It is a revealing fact. And at the South American level it can be said that it is only below Brazil and Argentina, nobody else.

That personality was exposed once again against the Netherlands. They started losing almost with a locker room goal against a team with history in the World Cups, but they did not suffer the blow, showed serenity and mettle, developed their game without complexes, made the Netherlands look weak and deserved more than the point. He did more than A Clockwork Orange. He annulled a questionable goal for Pervis Estupiñán in an action that is appreciated by the referee. Jackson Porozo was on the line where the ball entered, but he did not block the goalkeeper’s vision when Ángelo Preciado shot (later deflected into the net by Estupiñán). Then came Enner Valencia’s draw, who had become a World Cup star, and finally we must count that violent left-footed shot by Gonzalo Plata off the crossbar that was intended to be a great goal.

All the neutrals that were present at the Khalifa stadium left with an optimal impression of Ecuador, which knows what it is playing for, but above all it shows remarkable mettle and character. It is, above all things, a generous team in the effort, supportive. And bravo, he is not afraid of anything or anyone. Of course, Gustavo Alfaro has a good portion of merit for having chosen them and giving them a performance, but without a doubt it must be attributed to the fact that it is a very good generation. Alfaro knew how to see them and stop them well in the field. The joy and satisfaction of the thousands of Ecuadorians who attended the game speaks of the fact that they saw a robust performance, but they also feel represented by this eleven from Alfaro.

Within this prodigal litter we must highlight, above all, Piero Hincapié, a player called to be a great, for whom Bayer Leverkusen is already too small. It seems impossible to pass him one-on-one, he is a great anticipator, he has the degree of concentration of the chosen ones, intuitive in the mark, very lively to put the body. And a fantastic leader despite his twenty years. He orders the defense, harangues his teammates, puts in a leg. Great performance. Another is Moisés Caicedo, with the virtues that he is known for: location, driving technique, criteria for distribution, deployment, round trip. And a vocation to step on the rival area when the play allows it.

The pillars

Then there is, of course, Enner Valencia and his 38 goals with the National Team, his vivacity to always be in the exact place in the area, to crush goalkeepers on rebounds or for the winning header. He is going to be 33 years old, will he give it to another World Cup…? And Pervis Estupiñán, with virtues similar to those of Hincapié. Also fantastic for strength, for offensive ambition. His was the goal that the Algerian judge Ghorbal annulled. Félix Torres is another impassable, and Jhegson Méndez an orderly and hard-working five. All the others help, put their mite. Some with more quality than others, but in delivery, the eleven were even. Michael Estrada has been denied in these first two games, but the coach continues to trust him. Also, he has no variants. And Plata, from whom so much is expected, has not excelled. If he entered that shot that he hit the crossbar, maybe he could break the spell.

The line of five arranged by Alfaro was excellent, the three defenders Porozo, Torres and Hincapié allowed them to free Preciado and Estupiñán for their attacking adventures. And they were very participative in the maneuvers with the smell of goal. De Pervis was also the left-footed shot that led to the equalizing goal, helped by a very weak mark from Virgil Van Dijk, who never came out to cover the shot. Pervis shot goalkeeper Noppert, he rebounded and Valencia pushed it into the net.

The Netherlands was the counter figure: a team that he can only compliment: ordered. Without stars, perhaps Frenkie De Jong’s handling quality stands out, and Gapko’s opportunism a bit in attack. But a boring team, of office workers, without spark, a reflection of what their coach Van Gaal transmits from the bank. We don’t see nails in this Netherlands to fight much beyond the round of 16, although if this World Cup has a particular sign it is that of surprises. There’s a lot.

From minute 70 the two wanted to close the game. The tie left them satisfied. The Netherlands is already classified, facing Qatar on the last date, the weakest representation of the tournament and already eliminated. A pity: with everything that Qatar invested, with the luxury World Cup that it has given us, five days after its debut it was already out of competition. With just a draw against the locals, the Netherlands will go to the next phase.

For Ecuador it is different, the point left it in four units, one more than Senegal, but since they will meet next Tuesday, the game becomes a final. Ecuador go through with a tie, Senegal must win, but nothing is impossible and Alfaro’s team will have to be very careful. To give value to everything done so far, they must reach the next round, otherwise today’s happiness will mutate into disappointment. Be careful, despite the fact that Qatar is not the best yardstick to measure it, measure it, Senegal raised a lot in relation to its debut against those in the orange shirt.

From the day of the draw it was known that the Netherlands was the most difficult test to overcome. And he passed it without triumph, but with a high note.

Source: Elcomercio

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