Preview: Argentina vs. Ecuador

In a rematch from the 2021 Copa America quarter-finals, the reigning champions Argentina square off with Ecuador at NRG Stadium in Houston on Thursday, with a spot in the last four at stake.

La Seleccion topped Group A with a 100% record, winning their previous match 2-0 against Peru, while Ecuador held Mexico to a 0-0 draw, finishing second in Group B.

Match preview

Statistically speaking, the opening phase of this tournament was nearly flawless for Lionel Scaloni’s men, who won their three encounters and did not concede.

All five of their goals scored in the opening phase came in the second half, and they have not fallen behind in a Copa America match since the 2019 semi-finals (2-0 loss versus Brazil).

The Argentines have won eight consecutive matches across all competitions and have only conceded two goals over that stretch.

Their last three appearances in the quarter-finals of this tournament have been a breeze, with Argentina winning those encounters by a combined margin of 9-1.

Only once in this century have we seen them lose a quarter-final fixture at this tournament, when they hosted this event in 2011 and were beaten on penalties by Uruguay (5-4).

Argentina have never lost to Ecuador at the Copa America, winning their 2021 quarter-final meeting against them 3-0, while the World Cup holders have advanced beyond this stage on four successive occasions.

Despite being on the back foot for a good portion of their previous encounter, Ecuador did enough to hold off the Mexicans and claim a spot in the knockout phase on goal difference.

It is the second successive time that La Tri have qualified for the last eight of this tournament, while they have now made the quarter-finals in three of the previous four Copa Americas.

Felix Sanchez has a chance to guide this team into the semi-finals of this competition for the first time since 1993, with the Ecuadorians losing three successive Copa America fixtures in the last eight.

Ecuador have yet to concede a first-half goal in this competition, though they have only netted once in the opening 45 minutes when they lost 2-1 to Venezuela.

The last time they scored first in a quarter-final fixture at this tournament was in 1997 when they were beaten 4-3 on penalties against Mexico after that match ended in a 1-1 draw.

They have lost six of their previous seven competitive fixtures versus Argentina, with their last victory against them occurring in 2015 (2-0).

Team News

Argentine captain Lionel Messi missed their final group fixture with hamstring discomfort, though he took part in full practices this week and is expected to feature on Thursday.

Messi, Alexis Mac Allister, Julian Alvarez, and Rodrigo De Paul were among the numerous players that Scaloni rested on matchday three.

Lautaro Martinez scored for a fourth match running, as his brace propelled Argentina to a victory over Peru, while Emiliano Martinez has posted four consecutive clean sheets at this tournament dating back to 2021.

After missing their previous encounter through suspension, Ecuador’s record goalscorer Enner Valencia played the full 90 minutes on matchday three, replacing John Yeboah.

That was the one change made to their starting 11 on Sunday, while Jose Hurtado was the only newcomer to see the field for them, coming on for Angelo Preciado in second-half stoppage time.

Alexander Dominguez stopped four Mexican shots to collect his first clean sheet at the Copa America this year and his first with La Tri since March (2-0 win over Guatemala).

Argentina possible starting lineup:
E. Martinez; Molina, Romero, Li. Martinez, Tagliafico; Di Maria, De Paul, Mac Allister; Messi, La. Martinez, Alvarez

Ecuador possible starting lineup:
Dominguez; Preciado, Torres, Pacho, Hincapie; Franco, M. Caicedo; Yeboah, Paez, Sarmiento; Valencia

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