Senegal are faced with a deciding moment at the 2022 FIFA World Cup; their final game of Group A is a must win clash as they take on Ecuador at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan. Heading into this game, Ecuador are second in the group with four points, same tally as the group leaders the Netherlands and only behind them on fair play. Senegal have three points in third place and Qatar are already eliminated. Ecuador were decent in their last game, coming from a goal down to draw 1-1 with the Netherlands courtesy of Enner Valencia’s third goal in this competition. Ecuador will need just a draw from this game to advance. If they match results with the Dutch but gain the advantage in fair play, they can win the group unless both teams were to lose. From the form they have shown in their opening two matches, this doesn’t look like a target too big for them. The South Americans are coming from a ninth straight unbeaten game and they have seven clean sheets in that run, while they have conceded only one goal in their last eight matches. Ecuador have however not been able to match their defensive performances with their attacking numbers as they rarely hit more than a goal. In their last 15 matches, they have scored more than a goal in just two games. Their last nine matches have all seen under 2.5 goals scored and they have just three wins in the nine games.
Senegal will qualify if winning this match. A draw could take them through but only if Qatar beat Netherlands and Senegal can claw back the goal difference. They had a slow start to their game against Qatar but eventually got it right and they can’t afford the same here, with Ecuador operating from a more comfortable position. Senegal’s win over Qatar was their third in five matches but the quality of opposition here will be tougher and one area they won’t afford any complacency is in defence. By now they should be aware of the threat posed by Ecuador skipper Enner Valencia, and carrying just four clean sheets in their last 10 competitive matches, this will be a real concern for Aliou Cisse and his team. They are at their most vulnerable in the second half, as seen in this competition. Senegal have conceded three goals. all in the second half and they come here without a clean sheet in nine straight World Cup games. With Sadio Mane out of this competition, Senegal’s expected goals ratio has massively gone down and they will hope that at least Cheikhou Kouyate heals in time for the game. The Crystal Palace midfielder was injured in the team’s opening game, and missed the win over Qatar.
Ecuador are a great defensive side; they’ve conceded just a goal in their last eight games. On the other hand, they haven’t been scoring many goals; only twice in their last 15 games have they registered more than one goal. They go into this game needing just a draw so there’s a chance they will line up defensively. Their key man in attack, Enner Valencia, has been struggling with a knee injury and they may choose to protect him. Senegal have to attack more here, but unfortunately they haven’t been scoring a lot of goals either. They’ve scored more than a goal in just two of the last five and these struggles are expected to continue. Under 2.5 goals is therefore a good pick for this game.