Senegal Vs. Ecuador World Cup Group A Odds, Picks, Predictions (11/29/22)

After a competitive start to Group A action in this World Cup, some clear stratification has taken place; Netherlands are extremely likely to secure the top spot with a win over what has been an overmatched Qatar side, while the second spot in the group will be determined by Tuesday’s matchup between Senegal and Ecuador. Currently, Ecuador are a point above Senegal by virtue of drawing with the Netherlands rather than losing, so they’d move on in the case of a draw; otherwise, the winner will be in the round of 16, while the loser’s tournament is over. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some predictions for this decisive group stage match.

Senegal Vs. Ecuador Odds

Ecuador are a minor favorite in this one, listed at +145 to win, while Senegal are +215 and the draw is +220. The goalscoring total, as always, is set at 2.5, with the under pretty soundly favored at -170

Senegal Vs. Ecuador Prediction & Pick

The eyes of the World were on Ecuador as they opened up the tournament in strong fashion against hosts Qatar, and picked up three points. Their matchup against group favorites Netherlands was perhaps less-viewed, but maybe more impressive as well; while the 1-1 draw against a heavily favored opponent is a good result, it can be argued that Ecuador deserved even more from that match. Possession was essentially even, but Ecuador accumulated 1.68 xG compared to an insanely low 0.1 for the Dutch, and they outshot their opponents by a mark of 15 to 2. Still, the draw leaves them in excellent position to qualify for the knockout stage, as they just need to draw again in order to advance.

Senegal also probably feel like they deserved more than they got against the Netherlands; they also won the shots and xG battles, but they walked away with no points at all in a solid effort. They didn’t stumble against Qatar, however, as they won the battle of Asian Champions vs. African Champions by a score of 3-1. After struggling to finish solid moves against the Netherlands, it was good to see them put on their scoring boots and strike the ball well; they actually had less xG than Qatar, and less than they did against the Netherlands, but they still managed to find goals through three separate scorers, a good sign for the attack overall.

This is a pretty tough match to call; these teams are evenly matched, and have a lot of different ways they can approach the game and find success. That being said, I do like the draw; Ecuador know exactly what they need to do in this one, and frankly I believe that these teams are just about evenly matched, so the +220 number is pretty good value. In terms of the total, the attacking form of Enner Valencia (3 goals so far in the first 2 games) paired with Senegal’s outburst against Qatar has me tempted to go over, but I have to stick with u2.5. I went back and forth on this a few times, but the fact of the matter is that Senegal are not creating shots at a great rate (under 1 xG both games) and their chance conversion will not be what it was against Qatar, especially considering that Ecuador will be more than content to sit back and play for the draw. Even if Senegal have a lot of the ball, it will likely look much like it did in their opener against the Dutch; not much of a consistent threat.

Key Matchups

Ecuador Attack vs. Senegal Defense

When I say “Ecuador attack,” that has more or less meant one thing in this World Cup, and that’s Enner Valencia. He’s played both at striker and on the wing, but he’s been excellent in both roles; he’s scored all three goals for his country so far at this tournament, and he also scored the last 3 Ecuador goals at the 2014 World Cup. Since Ecuador failed to qualify for 2018, his equalizer against the Netherlands makes Valencia just the fourth player to score six consecutive World Cup goals for his country. Truly he is a force to be reckoned with all by himself, and he’s had to be, since the rotating cast of supporting attackers has been generally uninspiring, and hasn’t provided Valencia with an assist yet (one goal unassisted, one penalty, one assisted by fullback Angelo Preciado).

After facing the Netherlands, there’s no defense that should intimidate Valencia but the Senegalese group is a seriously tough one too. Kalidou Koulibaly is of course one of the most legendary footballing figures in his country’s history, and serves as the anchor for this defense. The versatile Abdou Diallo has played both centre-back and left back, and been serviceable in both spots. Lastly, Real Betis fullback Youssouf Sabaly has been lockdown in the first two games; he was arguably the team’s best player overall against Qatar, and has unquestionably been the most impressive defender on the side over the past two games, as well as pouring in some surprisingly dangerous-looking shots. This matchup will be key, as an early Valencia goal would make it pretty easy for Ecuador to sit back with 11 men behind the ball and play for the draw or better; Senegal’s back four will have to do enough to hold off at least until their attack is able to find an opener if they want a chance to win this match outright.

Senegal Attack vs. Ecuador Defense

Of course, the flipside of that notion is that if Senegal are able to get that first goal early in the match, it’s game on, and they’ll be in great position to qualify. Senegal actually changed formations after running a traditional 4-3-3 against the Netherlands; they ran a more attacking 4-4-2, where the same winger duo of Krepin Diatta and Ismalia Sarr played on the outside, but point man Boulaye Dia was joined by a second striker, Famara Diedhiou. It looks like the change was a success as both strikers scored in the win, but it’s worth noting the lack of change in terms of chance creation; the finishing just seems to have been better. Still, that’s half the battle- a half that many teams in this tournament are surely struggling with. It’ll be interesting to see if this aggressive tactic pans out well against a tougher opponent than Qatar.

The Ecuadorian defense is definitely more competitive than Qatar’s, but it isn’t the same caliber as the Dutch of course. Still, they’ve been impressive, only allowing 1 goal across two matches, and to be completely honest it was quite the strike from Cody Gakpo. As I alluded to earlier, they’ve limited their two opponents to a total of under a half xG, just one signal of a very impressive record so far. And all of that has taken place in games that were much more open than this one should be, since this time they know all they need is a draw. Interestingly, despite the success against Qatar, they switched formations from a classic 4-3-3 to a 3-4-2-1, essentially creating a back-5, as fullbacks Pervis Estupinán and Angelo Preciado simply moved up to be part of that “midfield 4”, and Jackson Porozo got the start and joined Félix Torres and Leverkusen’s Piero Hincapié in central defense. It’ll be interesting to see which performance looked better to manager Gustavo Alfaro, and how that’s reflected when he reveals his starting XI for this pivotal match against Senegal.

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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