Argentina vs Ecuador: Preview and Prediction

Argentina will be eyeing a spot in the Copa America last four when they take on Ecuador this midweek.

In a rematch of the 2021 Copa America quarter-finals, reigning champions Argentina face off against Ecuador at NRG Stadium in Houston on Thursday, with a place in the semi-finals at stake.

Argentina topped Group A with a flawless record, winning all three of their matches without conceding a goal. All five of their group-stage goals came in the second half, once again displaying their ability to find decisive moments after the break.

Lionel Scaloni’s side have not trailed in a Copa America match since the 2019 semi-finals against Brazil. They have now won eight consecutive matches across all competitions, conceding just two goals in that span. Their recent quarter-final history is impressive, with three consecutive wins by a combined margin of 9-1. The only quarter-final defeat this century was on penalties to Uruguay in 2011.

Ecuador secured their place in the knockout stages by holding Mexico to a 0-0 draw, finishing second in Group B on goal difference. This marks the second consecutive time La Tri have reached the quarter-finals, and they have now made it to this stage in three of the last four Copa America tournaments.

However, their record in the final eight is less impressive, as they have suffered three straight losses. Felix Sanchez’s team has yet to concede a first-half goal in this tournament. But they have only scored once in the opening 45 minutes, a goal that came in their 2-1 defeat to Venezuela.

Argentina have a strong historical record against Ecuador at the Copa America, having never lost to them in the tournament. Their most recent meeting in the 2021 quarter-finals saw Argentina win 3-0.

The World Cup and Copa America holders have progressed beyond this stage in the last four editions of the Copa America. In contrast, Ecuador have struggled against Argentina in competitive fixtures, losing six of their last seven encounters. Their last victory over Argentina was in 2015 with a 2-0 scoreline.

With a third straight major trophy in their sights, Argentina will be raring to go. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up and what tactics they might make use for the game.

Team News & Tactics


Lionel Scaloni will return to the dugout following his one-game suspension against Peru in Argentina’s final Group A clash against Peru. His presence on the sideline will be key as Argentina aim to secure yet another feather in their cap under his management.

Lionel Messi also sat out of the clash against Peru thanks to an injury. However, he has since trained and should make the cut to face Ecuador. Meanwhile, key players such as Alexis Mac Allister, Julian Alvarez, and Rodrigo De Paul, who were rested in the final group match, will be fresh and ready to contribute.

Scaloni’s team is expected to maintain their disciplined defensive structure while relying on quick transitions and the creative genius of Messi to unlock the Ecuadorian defence. Their ability to score in the second half indicates tactical patience, wearing down opponents before striking decisively.

Coupled with the aura that has preceded them since the World Cup triumph in 2022, La Albiceleste enter the game as huge favourites. Argentina are expected to line up in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Emiliano Martinez in goal. Nahuel Molina and Nicolas Tagliafico should occupy the wing-back spots, with Cristian Romero and Lisandro Martínez forming the centre-back pairing.

Rodrigo De Paul should act as the midfield enforcer, with Angel Di Maria and Alexis Mac Allister providing the forward thrust. Lionel Messi should don the number 10 role and will pull the strings in the attack. Lautaro Martinez and Julian Alvarez should round off the all-star attack for the reigning FIFA World Cup holders.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Emiliano Martinez; Molina, Romero, Lisandro Martinez, Tagliafico; Di Maria, De Paul, Mac Allister; Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Alvarez

Argentina vs Ecuador: Preview and Prediction.


Ecuador have a young and exciting site which is smattered with experience. They did well to negotiate a tricky group but will now need to elevate their game to challenge Argentina.

La Albiceleste shot-stopper Emiliano Martinez has not conceded a goal in the Copa America this season, stitching a run of four shutouts going all the way back in 2021. Enner Valencia and Co. will need to break that streak if they have any shot of causing a shock.

Ecuador are expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Alexander Dominguez in goal. He should be protected by the back four of Angelo Preciado, Felix Torres, Willian Pacho and Piero Hincapie.

Alan Franco and Moises Caicedo will hold the fort in the middle of the park, with John Yeboah, Kendry Paez and Jeremy Sarmiento pushing forward. Enner Valencia should lead the line against Romero and Martinez.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Dominguez; Preciado, Torres, Pacho, Hincapie; Franco, M. Caicedo; Yeboah, Paez, Sarmiento; Valencia

Argentina vs Ecuador: Preview and Prediction.

Key Stats

  • Argentina have won 16 of their 17 games since securing the FIFA World Cup title in 2022.
  • Argentina last conceded a goal in Copa America in 2021, a run of four games.
  • Argentina have won 24 of their clashes against Ecuador. The latter have won just five times with the remaining 11 ending in a draw.
  • Ecuador have failed to beat Argentina in their 16 Copa America clashes.
  • Ecuador have failed to score in four of their last five matches against Argentina across all competitions.

Player to Watch

Lautaro Martinez

Embed from Getty Images

The Inter Milan skipper has been clutch for Argentina in recent times and has found the back of the net in his last four games for the World Cup and Copa America holders.

Martinez has scored in the last five minutes of regular time thrice in this season’s competition. His ability to crop up and make a difference at the death could prove decisive in the knockout rounds. Ecuador will not shy away from a fight and how well they can keep Martinez locked in on the night could make the difference.


Argentina 1-0 Ecuador

Ecuador have shown they are capable of frustrating their opponents, but Argentina are more than comfortable in close games and have shown the ability to dig deep when needed. The quality they possess in-depth could prove decisive as the defending champions thunder to a second straight South American crown.

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