World Cup: England vs. Ecuador
June 22, 2006 by Piet Van Leer • Print Story •
England has not been as impressive as their fans might have hoped. They scored early in their opener against Paraguay (courtesy of an own goal), then nervously held on for 1-0 win.
England followed that up with another nervous performance, scoring twice late in a victory over a severely outmanned Trinidad and Tobago team. Their last game against Sweden was when they looked their best ... offensively. Unfortunately for them, they conceded twice, and were lucky to not give up more.
In addition to their defensive worries, the strike force injuries are just as troubling. Michael Owen looks almost certain to miss the rest of the World Cup, and Wayne Rooney is just returning from a broken foot.
That leaves Peter Crouch and Theo Walcott as the only strikers who are truly 100%, and Walcott has yet to grace the pitch in this World Cup after not playing a single game all year in the English Premier League.
The team they will be facing is one of the surprise teams of the tournament. Ecuador showed they don't need the high altitude of Quito to win games. They qualified after their first two games, easing past the most disappointing team of this World Cup, Poland, with a 2-0 win. They followed that up with an equally impressive effort against Costa Rica, hammering them 3-0.
They did lose to Germany in their final group game, but they rested strikers Agustin Delgado and Carlos Tenorio who had scored in both of their previous games, so I wouldn't put a lot of stock in that game.
I think this will be a closer game than most observers would think it to be. Ecuador will not be intimidated — they play Brazil and Argentina regularly, including victories over both in qualifying. Their lack of experience this late in a World Cup will not be a factor.
Ecuador also has two strikers that are at the top of their games and are in tune with one another. Both Delgado and Tenorio can beat you on the ground and in the air.
I believe, though, that this England team just has too many resources. That, and Steven Gerrard — he is putting on an absolute show in this World Cup. They will have a sufficient scare from the more than competent Ecuadorians, but in the end, they get the win. England in a nailbiter, 2-1.