France (2-0-0) vs. Ecuador (1-1-0), 4 p.m. (ET)
06/25/2014 8:08 AM
06/25/2014 8:12 AM
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Ecuador's hopes of advancing to the knockout round will come down to 90 minutes at the Maracana on Wednesday when the nation faces France.
La Tri has taken three points from its first two games in Group E, opening the tournament with a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Switzerland before coming from behind to get a win over Honduras by the same score.
Next up for the South American nation is France, which sits atop the group thanks to its comfortable 3-0 and 5-2 wins over Honduras and Switzerland, respectively.
And with Switzerland simultaneously squaring off with a Honduran side that has nothing to play for on Wednesday, Ecuador is anticipating that it will need to defeat Les Bleus in order to advance to the knockout round for just the second time in history.
Given France's strong offensive displays thus far, Ecuador could be poised to absorb the attack and hit the European side on the counter.
"(France) scored eight goals in one match (an 8-0 thumping of Jamaica in a warm-up match)," Ecuador midfielder Christian Noboa said. "Scoring a goal in a World Cup is difficult and scoring eight, that gives you a guide to what France are all about."
The one saving grace that could make things easier for Ecuador is the fact that France already has secured a spot in the knockout round.
That affords France coach Didier Deschamps the luxury of potentially deploying a weaker team with the intent of resting some key players.
But according to star striker Karim Benzema, who has netted three goals in the tournament, France will go for it against Ecuador.
"We're very pleased with the performance and we'll try to repeat it against Ecuador," the 26-year-old said after the convincing defeat of Switzerland.
While France holds a major edge over its Group E opposition when it comes to goal difference, Les Bleus will have plenty of incentive to get at least a draw on Wednesday as the winner of Group E would likely avoid playing Argentina in the round of 16.
"We've got a good goal difference, and the third match will decide who finishes top and second in the group," Deschamps said. "We prepared well for the first two games, and we've played in an efficient manner. This is still the first part of the tournament. We need to finish the job against Ecuador, and then we'll be in a very different kind of competition."
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