France, which was the 1998 World Cup champion and the runner-up in 2006, is now poised to go into the elimination round of the 2014 finals. Les Bleus have torn through both Honduras and Switzerland and have executed quite a turnaround from the last time around, when they were knocked out in the group phase, amidst a lot of controversy.
In anticipation of having to prepare for the next round, the French team is expected to hold back some players, including Karim Benzema, and this may have something of an impact as they square off against an Ecuadorian team that has been playing with a heavy heart, after the death of a key player. Aside from that, Ecuador’s level of incentive is quite different; they will have to win this match at the very least in order to advance through Group E to join France and fourteen others in the knockout round.
The World Cup Championship
Ecuador vs. France (Group E)
Wednesday, June 25 – 4 PM ET
Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
Betting Odds – Handicap Line:
France -1/2, -145
Ecuador +1/2, +130
Betting Odds – Moneyline:
Over 2.5 Goals -136
Under 2.5 Goals +121
Coach Didier Deschamps, who was the captain of France’s World Cup championship team in 1998, didn’t seem to come into this tournament with a lot of expectations. However, the group itself was somewhat inviting; certainly a far cry from the “Group of Death” (Group G) that contained the United States, Portugal and Ghana, along with Germany.
If Benzema is absent, it should indeed be meaningful to World Cup bettors, since he’s had nine goals in his last eight international caps. Remember that Franck Ribery, the Bayern Munich winger who is one of the elite players in the world – and scored five goals in qualifying – has not participated, due to a back injury and subsequent refusal to take a cortisone shot from the French team doctor.
Ribery’s absence has not been felt thus far, as France has beaten Honduras 3-0 and Switzerland, FIFA’s highest-rated team in this group, by a 5-2 count. But as this team moves forward it should be a foregone conclusion on the part of VietBet customers that they are less of a team without him.
Ecuador, in all likelihood, will most likely rely on forward Enner Valencia, a mainstay at Manchester United who has scored all three of Ecuador’s goals in this group phase. He’s not related to Antonio Valencia, who is at midfield and plays for Manchester United.
One of the sparkplugs. certainly, is Felipe Caicedo, who currently plays at the club level in the United Arab Emirates and who provided a big boost to the team in qualifying after they had been humiliated 4-0 by Argentina. He has taken the place of Christian Benitez, the striker who suffered a death due to cardiac arrest after a club match in Qatar. Caicedo not only took Benitez’s place in the lineup, he also took his uniform number. And VietBet patrons should note that the entire club has dedicated its effort in Brazil to their fallen teammate.
While Ecuador has that kind of incentive on its side, the situation for the French team is definitely looking up, considering what happened in the last World Cup, when the players, upset that one of their teammates (Nicolas Anelka) had been sent home, boycotted practice, at which point the ringleader, left back Patrice Evra (another Manchester United star) was benched for a game against host South Africa, which France lost 2-1 while going through the motions.
Hey – that’s not to say they won’t be going through the motions again on Wednesday, but it may be for different reasons.
CHARLES JAY, a contributor to BangTheBook.com, is one of the most experienced sports betting writers in America, as he has written more than 10,000 pieces specifically for the industry over the last seven years. At one time employed as an editorial consultant with USA Network, he is also a former syndicated radio talk show host (American Radio Networks) and has also done color commentary on boxing events in the past for Prime Network (now known as Fox SportsNet). He is a veteran of more than a decade and a half working within the professional sports industry, and has been handicapping sporting events for over 25 years. In addition to this, he has compiled specialty odds for a number of online sportsbook operations and media outlets.