The Copa America begins half an hour into Friday morning with host nation Chile squaring up to Ecuador in the capital city, Santiago.
La Roja are 1/2 favourites to get their pursuit of first ever trophy off to a winning start, with their injury-ravaged adversaries 21/4 for three points and the draw rated a 31/10 shot.
Ecuador have been robbed of the services of Jaime Ayovi, Antonio Valencia, Felipe Caicedo, Angel Mena and Michael Arroyo.
Reflecting on their pre-tournament problems, La Tri midfielder Cristian Noboa suggested:
“Ayovi’s exit has hurt us a lot,”
“But the group is united and we want to play a good Copa America.”
One star Ecuador will be able to call upon is Enner Valencia, who signed for West Ham after an impressive World Cup for Ecuador in Brazil last summer.
Valencia’s first season in the Premier League was a frustrating one, with flashes of class glinting amid a more generally average output that tailed off in the second half of the season along with his team as a whole.
However, it wasn’t enough to dissuade Chelsea of his qualities, with the Blues thought to be seriously considering a move in the January transfer window.
One of the strings to the Ecuadorian’s bow is his prodigious leap, which makes him a serious threat from crosses and dead balls, despite his modest 5ft 9in stature.
It is this that makes him an excellent 13/4 bet to find the net against the Chileans, with centre-halves Gary Medel and Gonzalo Jara 5ft 7in and 5ft 10in respectively.
In fact just one player in Jorge Sampaoli’s entire squad is taller than 5ft 11in, promising rich pickings for such an accomplished aerial operator as Valencia.
Ecuador’s chances of finding the net are further supported by the fact that the hosts have kept two clean sheets in their last seven outings, shipping twice four times.
The likes of Bolivia and Iran were able to brace themselves against La Roja’s diminutive defence, so La Tri and Valencia should expect to do likewise.