Soccer

2014 FIFA World Cup – Group E Preview

Group E might be the snoozefest of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. France, Ecuador, Honduras and Switzerland make up this group. It may be simple to say it’s France and everyone else, but this group may have some interesting stories!

France’s Olivier Giroud and number 10 Karim Benzema embrace after a recent friendly.

France is the clear favorite in Group E. Coach Didier Deschamps has built a team with youth and experience that would’ve been centered around their star midfielder Franck Ribery, but he’s ruled out with a bad back. The responsibilities will be shared amongst two fullbacks that will push forward in attack (Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra) and three midfielders: Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba and Loic Remy. All will support Karim Benzema as the lone out-and-out striker.

Ecuador qualified for their third World Cup while dealing with the sudden death of their star striker Christian Benítez last July during last year’s qualifications. La Tri is ranked 26th in the FIFA World Rankings and is anchored by wingers Antonio Valencia of Manchester United and Jefferson Montero of Monarcas Morelia in the Liga MX.

Honduras is by most accounts the weakest team in Group E. Roger Espinoza is the star and allowing coach Luis Fernando Suárez the ability to alternate from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 as Los Catrachos seek to maintain a defensive focus against more powerful opposition.

Lastly, there is Switzerland. Could the Swiss have an emerging power on their hands? Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld’s squad has probably the best counter-attacking punch you’ve never seen and an awesome collection of young talent in this year’s World Cup. Xherdan Shaqiri of Bayern Munich is 22, Granit Xhaka of Borussia Mönchengladbach is 21 and Josip Drmić is also 21, will sit up top as their number nine.

I predict France and Switzerland will qualify rather easily from this group with Ecuador and Honduras battling for 3rd place.

Group E Schedule:

Date/Time (ET)           Home                  Away                             Venue
June 15 | 12 PM            Switzerland      Ecuador                       Estádio Mané Garrincha, Brasília
June 15 | 3 PM              France                Honduras                    Estádio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
June 20 | 3 PM             Switzerland       France                         Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
June 20 | 6 PM             Ecuador             Honduras                   Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
June 25 | 4 PM             Honduras          Switzerland               Arena Amazônia, Manaus
June 25 | 4 PM             Ecuador             France                          Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro

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