Copa America Centenario: Ecuador will be looking to upset Brazil
Copa America Centenario: Ecuador will be looking to upset Brazil

Brazil will kick off the 2016 Copa America Centenario against South American rivals, Ecuador on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Brazil is in control of the series

These two nations will face off for the 30th time on Saturday. The Canarinho have defeated Los Amarillos 24 times. The first time these two nations met on the pitch was in the 1942 Copa America, and Brazil dismantled La Tri 5-1. In fact, Ecuador was not able to register their first positive result against the Samba Kings till 1963. Seven games later the Ecuadorian recorded their first draw with a 2-2 final score line in the Copa America of that year.

However, Ecuador did not record their first victory against the Verde-Amarela till March 28th, 2001. Agustin Delgado's 49th-minute goal delivered the historical 1-0 home victory for Ecuador in a World Cup Qualifier. The Ecuadorians went on to make more history in that qualification campaign by making it to their first World Cup in 2002.

Regardless, of that victory in 2001, La Tri has continued to struggle against Brazil. In the next eight matches, Ecuador has only picked one more victory and a draw in the process. The rest finished with defeats, in three of those matches, Ecuador has been left goalless. The overall record for Ecuador against Brazil is 2-3-24 (W-D-L).

Ecuador will be looking to erase the chip on their shoulder when it comes to Brazil on Saturday against Rose Bowl. Photo provided by Getty Images.
Ecuador will be looking to erase the chip on their shoulder when it comes to Brazil on Saturday against Rose Bowl. Photo provided by Getty Images.

Times are changing, Brazil in decline

However, as of late the two nations have been heading in opposite directions. The golden eras of Brazil appear to be done and current head coach Dunga is attempting to bring the five-time World Cup champions back to their glory. His task has proven to be more difficult than imagined; Brazil's struggle in the 2018 CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers is proof of that.

They have competed in six matches thus far, and the Samba Kings are in sixth place. They have only picked up a total of nine points in the process. Their only two victories of the campaign have come against last place Venezuela and eighth place Peru. Six of their 11 goals scored in the qualifiers have come from those two matches.

The mood is bad in the land of Joga Bonito. To paint the picture a little clearer, if the World Cup started today the Canarinho would not be participating in their first one, ever. Regardless, that Brazil is preparing to host the Summer Olympic Games in August, the fans and the critics expect a strong run in this tournament. A victory against Ecuador will pretty much secure their place in the next round since Brazil's next two matches are against Haiti and Peru. Whether the Samba Kings are struggling or not they are expected to defeat the Haitians and the Incas.

Philippe Coutinho will be expected to be one of the players to help carry the offensive responsibility on Saturday, with Neymar absent. Photo provided by PA Sport.
Philippe Coutinho will be expected to be one of the players to help carry the offensive responsibility on Saturday, with Neymar absent. Photo provided by PA Sport.

However, a defeat against Ecuador can potentially send the Neymar-less squad into panic mood. For the Verde-Amarela, the pressure is on them to get the opening three points under the bright lights of the Rose Bowl. Ecuador is expected to pick up their 25th overall defeat on Saturday against the Brazilians and still manage to advance to the next round.

Los Amarillos entering the match with confidence

As Brazil enters this match in a slump, the Ecuadorians are in good form. They are currently tied for first place in the qualification standings, with Uruguay in points, thirteen apiece. Ecuador is placed in second due to goal differential. However, they have managed to pick up results whether home or away. In their first six matches, they have only lost one game, the other five ended in four victories.

La Tri has managed to defeat Argentina 2-0 at home. Plus, they traveled to Uruguay and picked up a 2-1 victory with Fidel Martinez scoring the winning goal in the 59th minute.  At this point, it seems likely that Ecuador will be qualifying for their fourth World Cup but before that, head coach Gustavo Quinteros would love to make a statement and start the Copa with an upset victory. Nothing would be sweeter for them then defeating the nation that has bullied them for over 70-years.

Ecuador's offense will need to exploit the shaky Brazilian defense on Saturday at the Rose Bowl to potentially win the game. Photo provided AAP.
Ecuador's offense will need to exploit the shaky Brazilian defense on Saturday at the Rose Bowl to potentially win the game. Photo provided AAP.

Prediction: Brazil 1, Ecuador 2

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