Argentina vs Ecuador Prediction: No holding Messi down in Houston

 | Thursday 4th July 2024, 7:00am

Thursday 4th July 2024, 7:00am

houston texans nrg stadium scaled

The first quarter-final of the 2024 Copa America takes place at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Friday (02:00, Premier Sports 1) as Group A winners and reigning champions Argentina face Group B runners-up Ecuador.

Read below for my Argentina vs Ecuador prediction and all the latest team news and match odds.

Argentina vs Ecuador Betting Tips

  • Argentina to win & under 2.5 goals @ 13/8
  • Bet Builder - Lionel Messi anytime scorer, Enner Valencia 1+ shots, Moises Caicedo 4+ tackles, each team over 19.5 booking points @ 7/1

Copa America Odds

*Please click on the link above to be taken to the main Copa America page on betfred.com (or app) for all the live betting prices on this competition.

Team News

There are no injuries or suspensions for either team ahead of Friday, but there are big decisions to be made.

Argentina made wholesale changes for their third group game against Peru after already clinching top spot in Group A. The likes of Lionel Messi, Cristian Romero and Alexis Mac Allister are sure to return to the starting XI against Ecuador, with the biggest talking point in attack where Lautaro Martinez and Julian Alvarez are competing against each other.

Alvarez got the nod alongside Messi for La Albiceleste's first two games, scoring the opening goal of the tournament in a 2-0 victory over Canada, but he has since been overshone by Lautaro Martinez, who tops the Golden Boot charts after back-to-back strikes from the bench were followed by a brace in his first start against Peru.

Ecuador, meanwhile, welcomed captain Enner Valencia back into the starting XI in their goalless draw with Mexico, after the Internacional striker sat out the 3-1 victory over Jamaica due to a red card picked up in their 2-1 defeat to Venezuela.

The 34-year-old looks set to be supported in attack again by Brighton's Jeremy Sarmiento and 17-year-old wonderkid Kendry Paez, who will join Chelsea in 2025.

Argentina vs Ecuador Odds

*Please click on the link above to be taken to the main Argentina vs Ecuador page on betfred.com (or app) for all the live betting prices on this match.

Argentina (2/5) are huge favourites for Friday, with their odds giving them an implied win probability of 71.4% in regulation time, while Ecuador can be backed at 7/1, or a 12.5% chance, to cause an upset in 90 minutes.

The draw, which would send the tie to penalties as there is no extra time in Copa America, is available at 11/4, while both teams to score in regulation time is 6/4.

Argentina to win & under 2.5 goals (90 mins) @ 13/8

Argentina and Ecuador met in a pre-Copa America friendly in Chicago, Illinois on June 10, with Angel Di Maria netting the only goal of the game in the 40th minute. I previewed that match and managed to successfully tip Argentina to win and under 2.5 goals at 12/5, and a correct 1-0 score at 5/1.

I'm going for the former selection again this Friday as Argentina continue to display their defensive diligence.

Lionel Scaloni's side kept three clean sheets in as many games in the group stage, shutting out each of Canada, Chile and Peru en route to three wins.

Ecuador should represent a step up in quality in Houston, but La Albiceleste have the tools to limit any damage they might wish to inflict on Emiliano Martinez's goal.

Argentina have kept 14 clean sheets in the 17 matches they have played since beating France in the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar, with only Guatemala, Uruguay (twice) and Costa Rica managing to breach their backline.

Ecuador have some impressive attackers in Valencia, Paez and Sarmiento, but nothing the likes of Romero and Lisandro Martinez can't deal with.

All three of Argentina's victories in Group A saw under 2.5 goals scored, and 11 of their 16 wins since the start of 2023 have seen two or fewer strikes.

Argentina to beat Ecuador & under 2.5 total goals at 13-8

Bet Builder - Lionel Messi anytime scorer, Enner Valencia 1+ shots, Moises Caicedo 4+ tackles, each team over 19.5 booking points (90 mins) @ 7/1

My second tip sees a 7/1 bet builder drawn up from four selections.

Firstly, I'm backing Messi to get off the mark at the 2024 Copa America, for the simple fact that it's Messi. He was unable to find the back of the net against either Canada or Chile before missing the victory over Peru, so he should be fired up to make some headlines of his own on Friday.

Messi also scored in his last start against Ecuador, a 1-0 win last September.

Ecuador will look to talisman Valencia to weave some of his own magic, and the 34-year-old is still looking to make amends for his opening game red card against Venezuela, which probably cost them any chance of a victory.

He played the entirety of their draw with Mexico last time out, shooting three times, and he had two shots in just 28 minutes of action when facing Argentina last month.

Valencia also took two shots in last September's defeat to La Albiceleste and scored with one of his two efforts off the bench in a dramatic 1-1 draw in March 2022.

Another player likely to be integral if they are to achieve any sort of success on Friday is Chelsea midfielder Moises Caicedo, whose industrious displays helped power Ecuador to a second-place finish in Group B.

The 22-year-old averaged 3.7 tackles per game in the group stage, making four, three and four against Venezuela, Jamaica and Mexico respectively.

Against Argentina, containing the trickery of Messi and co, you would expect him to record some big numbers.

Canada made 29 tackles in Argentina's opening game of the tournament, and Chile 22 in their next match.

The fourth and final leg of this bet builder requires each team to be awarded over 19.5 booking points.

A booking is worth ten points with us at Betfred, while a red card is worth 25 points when a referee sends someone off in a game. If a referee books a player but later sends him off, even if it is for two yellow cards offences, it will total 35 booking points (one yellow + one red card).

This selection landed in Argentina's first group game, which offered the same sort of jeopardy they're likely to experience on Friday, as well as Ecuador's opener with Venezuela.

So much is on the line for both sides at the NRG Stadium, which is why I think there could be several cards dished out by the referee.

Argentina vs Ecuador bet builder at 7-1

Offers

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