England: A closer look at Ecuador ahead of tonight's friendly

Wembley England

As England head into their penultimate friendly ahead of the World Cup, what can we expect from opponents Ecuador and what valuable lessons can be learned?

After a relatively straight forward 3-0 victory over Peru on Friday, England will line up against a slightly sterner opposition in Miami this evening opposite Ecuador who themselves are putting the finishing touches on their World Cup preparations. 

Following the tragic death of Christian "Chuchu" Benitez midway through the qualifying campaign, Ecuador harnessed their grief and qualified for only their third ever World Cup finals. 

The death of a close friend has seen the team bond further as a group, and they will no doubt be passionate and determined to play well this summer in memory of the late striker. 

The team are managed by 57-year-old Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda, who heads into his second World Cup after managing Honduras in South Africa in 2010. 

Rueda favours a 4-3-3 system which can fold into a rigid 4-5-1 when under pressure. The majority of the Ecuador squad play their football in their native country and will be comfortable playing in the intense climate this summer. 

In fact Ecuador almost entirely rely on playing in high humidity, intense heat and at high altitude. During qualifying they relied on home games at the Atahualpa Stadium (residing 2,800 metres above sea level) to negotiate their way into the World Cup finals. At home Ecuador recorded seven victories and one draw but failed to win away from home. 

Of course with this evening's fixture being held in Miami, Ecuador will be without their high altitude advantage and it is uncertain which of their two contrasting systems (ultra attacking/ultra defensive) will be used. 

Following a humbling 2-0 defeat to Chile last November, Roy Hodgson has insisted his side face South American opponents ahead of the World Cup. 

England struggled to deal with the work ethic shown by the Chilean side and their intense pressure on the ball proved too much for Hodgson's men as they sank to defeat with little resistance. 

Ecuador certainly have the required aesthetics to replicate Chile this evening, and if so England will need to prove they have formulated a plan to counteract such an approach, with Uruguay likely to pose a similar threat in the group stages. 

Expect goals tonight, Ecuador are weak in defence and tend to bank on themselves to score goals in order to gain results.

Ecuador's key player is without a doubt Manchester United man Antonio Valencia, but some may remember striker Felipe Caicedo who spent a short time across Manchester at Manchester City. 

Not the fiercest of opposition for England, but a fixture that could teach us a lot about the World Cup credentials of Hodgson's side. Another victory and a clean sheet would prove England have come a long way since the defeat to Chile in November, and could spark hope in the hearts of England fans.

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