SBI World Cup Preview: Group E

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By RYAN TOLMICH

While it may lack the star power of some other World Cup groups, there are plenty of story lines to watch for in Group E.

Headlining the group is Switzerland, who enter the tournament carrying the tag as the most overrated seeded team in the competition. The Swiss are heavily viewed as the weakest of the tournaments seeded teams, despite a roster that boasts attacking threats like Gokhan Inler, Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka.

Sitting right behind them is France, who head to Brazil with a chip on their shoulder as well. The French struggled through qualifying, earning themselves a place in the playoff round that saw them drop the first leg to Ukraine by a 2-0 scoreline. Les Bleus rallied to win the fixture’s second stanza 3-0, but limping through qualifying was far from the best message to send after the highly publicized 2010 disaster. Adding to France’s frustration will be the absence of star winger Franck Ribery, who was ruled out of the tournament with a back injury.

The group also includes CONMEBOL side Ecuador, who enter the tournament with more to play for than just international glory. La Tri head to Brazil mourning the loss of striker Christian Benitez, who tragically passed away from cardiac arrest back in July.

Rounding out Group E is Honduras, who finished third in CONCACAF qualifying behind the U.S. and Costa Rica. Honduras has long had the reputation for being one of North America’s most tricky fixtures and any team looking past them is putting themselves in danger for a major upset.

Here’s a closer look at Group E:

WORLD CUP GROUP E

SCHEDULE

6/15- Switzerland vs. Ecuador, France vs. Honduras; 6/20- Switzerland vs. France, Honduras vs. Ecuador; 6/25 Ecuador vs. France, Honduras vs. Switzerland.

TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland: Gökhan Inler, Xherdan Shaqiri, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Granit Xhaka

Ecuador: Antonio Valencia, Walter Ayovi, Felipe Caicedo, Jefferson Montero

France: Karim Benzema, Mathieu Valbuena, Paul Pogba, Laurent Koscielny

Honduras: Roger Espinoza, Carlo Costly, Oscar Boniek Garcia, Wilson Palacios

YOUNG PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri

Ecuador: Carlos Grueza

France: Paul Pogba

Honduras: Andy Najar

SBI’s PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. France. Too much talent, regardless of their struggles in qualifying.

2. Switzerland. Creative attack should be enough to cruise through the bottom two.

3. Ecuador. Will fight valiantly for the memory of Benitez.

4. Honduras. Honduras always finds a way to make things tricky, but they’ll fall just short.

When it comes down to it, the French are just too talented for their Group E opposition. Benzema will prove to be too much for any non-elite defenses, while an explosive midfield led by Cabaye, Pogba and defensive anchor Blaise Matuidi. Switzerland will justify their spot in the FIFA rankings by qualifying through to the knockout rounds. Meanwhile, both Ecuador and Honduras are sure to pose an interesting challenge to the group’s top two with both sides potentially giving France and Switzerland a scare or two.

How do you see Group E shaking out? Will Switzerland justify their ranking? Will France overcome their shaky qualifying campaign?

Share your thoughts below.

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7 Responses to SBI World Cup Preview: Group E

  1. Doktor Amor says:

    I’m predicting that the Switzerland v. Honduras game in Manaus will be extremely unpredictable.
    Switzerland will be overwhelmed by the tropical weather and struggle until the 80th minute when Honduras usually falls apart. This time, Honduras will stay composed and win 2-0.

    • Bradley's Missing Mop says:

      Interesting thought. The Swiss need to come out and hold the ball, to save the legs for later. But I could see Honduras Punching above its weight and making a game of this, Concacrap style.

  2. mike says:

    This group is ridiculously weak

  3. OH NO says:

    Players to watch for Ecuador should be Antonio Valencia; Jefferson Montero; Christian Noboa; Enner Valencia

  4. Mr_A says:

    Yeah, I’m spotting Ecuador to surprise and qualify second to Switzerland, with France beating Honduras only.