WORLD CUP FORECAST: Group E - Are Ecuador just making up the numbers?
Ecuador face a fierce challenge in Group E against a trio of teams who they can certainly mix it with when at their very best.
La Tri-color are back on the world stage after missing South Africa 2010 which coincidentally their manager, Reinaldo Rueda qualified for with Honduras for the first time in close to three decades.
A fourth-place finish in South American qualifying allowed the Ecuadorians back into the World Cup finals for just the third time in their history and they will be looking to make the most of that opportunity.
Results in the CONMEBOL campaign included a home win over Uruguay, a home draw with Argentina and a 3-1 triumph over Chile which will surely give the side confidence knowing that they can mix it with some of the world's most dangerous teams.
The opposition they will come up against in Group E is definitely there for the taking if Ecuador brings their 'A-game' to Brazil but the worry is getting all their key players up at the same time to record the desired results.
Manager: Reinaldo Rueda
Fixtures: Switzerland - June 15 (Brasilia), Honduras - June 20 (Curitiba), France - June 25 (Rio de Janeiro)
Past outings against group opponents: Ecuador and Switzerland have never met at senior international level.
La Tri have met Honduras 13 times for three wins, eight draws and two losses. The most recent meeting ended in a 2-2 draw in Texas in November 2013.
Ecuador have taken on the French just once before which resulted in a 2-0 friendly loss in Grenoble in 2008.
World Cup utopia: Making it to the Round of 16 would be a fair achievement, anything more a bonus.
Doomsday scenario: Dropping behind Honduras would be seen as a colossal failure.
Qualified by virtue of: Finishing fourth in CONMEBOL qualifying.
Best result at a World Cup: Round of 16 (2006)
Ecuador will be hoping they can pull off something similar to the 2006 team that made it to the Round of 16 in Germany.
On that occasion, La Tri defeated Poland and Costa Rica before falling to the Germans in their final group stage match prior to a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of England in the first knockout phase.
If they can repeat that dose in Brazil, it would be seen as a major success, and with a group that is not seen as overly strong, anything is possible.
However, their total of 20 goals from 16 qualifying matches will not be striking fear into the French and the Swiss while Honduras will feel they can mix it with the Ecuadorians on their day.
A lot lies with Valencia and his influence from midfield while Caicedo will be relied upon heavily to get the goals but you just get the sense that Brazil 2014 might be more about the participation and the experience rather than the success for Ecuador.
Prediction: Group stage elimination.
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