Argentina vs. Ecuador expected lineups, starting 11, team news: Will Lionel Messi make Copa America quarterfinal return?

Copa America holders and reigning world champions Argentina will endeavour to maintain their perfect record in the United States when they face Ecuador in the last eight of the tournament at NRG Stadium in Houston on Thursday.

Ranked first in the world by FIFA, the Albiceleste have so far lived up to their billing and the opening phase of the 2024 Copa America was flawless for Lionel Scaloni’s troops, who won their three group-stage encounters without conceding a single goal.

La Tri, on the other hand, set up a meeting with the world champions thanks to a goalless draw with Mexico in their Group B finale. Felix Sanchez’s side finished level with Mexico on four points, but Ecuador secured a place in the knockout stages due to their superior goal difference.

Ahead of their quarterfinal match, there are lingering concerns about the fitness of Lionel Messi, who only played in two of Argentina’s first three fixtures.

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Argentina vs. Ecuador predicted lineups, starting 11, team news

The main talking point leading up to Argentina’s Copa America quarterfinal against Ecuador on Thursday will be talisman Lionel Messi‘s fitness. It was no great surprise to see the 37-year-old Inter Miami star sit out the clash with Peru after he required treatment in Argentina’s second game against Chile. He even admitted after the match that he had felt “some discomfort” in his right hamstring.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner and 2022 World Cup champion took part in full practices this week and there’s confidence that Messi will prove his fitness in time for the match in Houston.

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Scaloni also rested the likes of Alexis Mac Allister, Rodrigo De Paul and Julian Alvarez for Saturday’s 2-0 win over Peru on Matchday 3, all of whom should return to the starting lineup for this game.

Angel Di Maria reclaimed his place in the starting 11 last time out, while Nicolas Tagliafico was the only defender to keep his spot, and Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero and Lisandro Martinez should reunite with him in a back four here.

With four goals in this competition so far, including a brace against Peru, Inter Milan hitman Lautaro Martinez is set to spearhead the Argentine attack against Ecuador, flanked by Alvarez and Messi.

Argentina projected starting lineup (4-3-3, right to left): E. Martinez (GK) — Molina, Romero, Li. Martinez, Tagliafico — Di Maria, De Paul, Mac Allister — Messi, La. Martinez, Alvarez.

Injured: Messi (doubt)
Suspended: None

After missing their previous encounter through suspension, Ecuador’s all-time leading goalscorer Enner Valencia played the full 90 against Mexico, with John Yeboah making way. He will be the man up top to provide a difference as he looks to add to his 41-goal international tally against the world champions.

Kendry Paez is an attacking force from midfield for Ecuador. He is very positive with the ball and uses his electrifying burst of speed to get past defenders. Jeremy Sarmiento‘s athleticism makes him a problem for backlines, while Alan Minda is another exciting young impact player.

Defensive midfielder Moises Caicedo and defender Piero Hincapie create a strong spine for the team.

Ecuador projected starting lineup (4-2-3-1, right to left): Dominguez (GK) —  Preciado, Torres, Pacho, Hincapie — Franco, M. Caicedo — Minda, Paez, Sarmiento — Valencia.

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Injured: None
Suspended: None

Argentina vs. Ecuador live stream, TV channel

  TV channel Streaming
USA FOX, Univision, TUDN Fubo, Fox Sports app/website, ViX, Univision Now, TUDN app/website
Canada CTV Two, TSN 4, 5, RDS TSN+, RDS App, CTV App
UK Premier Sports 1 Premier Sports Player
Australia Optus Sport

USA: Argentina vs. Ecuador from NRG Stadium will be televised in the United States on FOX, with a Spanish-language broadcast via Univision and TUDN. All three channels are available to stream on Fubo, with the latter offering a FREE seven-day trial.

Spanish language coverage is also available on streaming platform ViX.

UK: This match will be shown in the UK on Premier Sport Player’s platforms.

Canada: All Copa America matches can be seen in Canada on TSN’s respective TV channel and live streaming services. RDS provides French language coverage.

Australia: Australia’s sole broadcaster for the Copa America is Optus Sport. 

India: Unfortunately, there has been no official confirmation of TV and live stream broadcasts of Copa America in India. Reports had suggested that FanCode and Sony were ready to take up broadcast rights for the tournament but, as yet, that has not been made official. So at the moment, there is no official platform in India on which viewers can stream or any channel on which the match will be broadcast. 

If Argentina vs. Ecuador is not available to watch live in your location, or if you’re traveling abroad, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs offer a secure and private online connection, allowing you to bypass geographical restrictions to access your favorite streaming services from any device anywhere in the world.

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