FIFA World Cup Group E Match Previews: Swiss Meet France

World Cup

The second round of Group E matches for the FIFA World Cup has Ecuador meeting up with Honduras and Switzerland duking it out with France for the top spot. France currently sits in first on goal differential, and a loss for Switzerland could move them out of second place depending on an Ecuador win.

Switzerland v France: This match will be the real test for Les Bleus, who had an almost too-easy go of it against Honduras in their World Cup opener, especially after the Central Americans went a man down in the first half. Switzerland will not lie down and take it quite so peacefully. The Swiss, meanwhile, were extremely fortunate to come out of their game with three points, thanks to a last minute goal.

Switzerland had a tough time with Ecuador, allowing them to score first and trailing 1-0 at halftime, but substitutes Admir Mehmedi and Haris Seferović pulled off spectacular second-half goals to give the Swiss the win. Though they got the desired result, Switzerland had trouble controlling the middle of the field and let Ecuador set the pace for the first half.

Josip Drmić and Xherdan Shaqiri are forces to be reckoned with up top, but Switzerland’s lack of consistency and cohesion in the midfield left them on the wrong end of the attack several times. On top of that, their young defense struggled to keep up with the speed of Ecuador’s strikers early in the game. The Swiss defenders will face a serious opponent in Karim Benzema, Mathieu Valbuena, and Antoine Griezmann. Paul Pogba is also continually involved in plays, having been the catalyst for both of Wilson Palacios’ yellow cards.

France struggled with possession and lost many free balls to the Honduran players, who were not afraid to throw their weight around. France’s defense held strong against the attack in the first half, but with so many penalties being called against Honduras for rough play, and with the departure of Palacios, they did not face a very tough challenge. Switzerland will not give France those same opportunities, and will use their quick attack to get in behind Mamadou Sakho and Patrice Evra. Evra in particular will need to take care that he does not commit too many fouls, as he received a yellow card and a few other calls in Sunday’s game against Honduras.

Prediction: France 2 – 2 Switzerland

Ecuador v Honduras: Both of the bottom teams are reeling from their opening losses, but for slightly different reasons. Ecuador went from leading the game 1-0 to losing 2-1 in the span of 45 minutes, and the goal from Seferović in the final seconds of the game was a nasty shock. La Tri will come out striking against Honduras, but may focus more on defense if they take an early lead. The meeting between Switzerland and France will set the tone for Ecuador and Honduras, as the outcome will largely affect whether a loss for the third or fourth place teams could all but guarantee elimination from Group E and the 2014 World Cup.

Enner Valencia and Felipe Caicedo annoyed the Swiss defense all game, and Valencia scored Ecuador’s only goal to take the initial lead. Honduras will have a tough time without Palacios in the lineup, as defensive midfielder Jorge Claros looks primed to fill in that spot. Maynor Figueroa, Brayan Beckeles, and Emilio Izaguirre will likely feature in the back for Los Catrachos, against Caicedo and Jefferson Montero.

Honduras showed little-to-no attack in their game against France, even in the first half before they went down a man. They will need to get a goal against Ecuador if they hope to leave Brazil with at least one, as the Swiss are no more likely to give one up than the French were.

Prediction: Ecuador 2 – 1 Honduras

The second round of Group E games for the 2014 World Cup could see Honduras meeting elimination with a loss, unless either France or Switzerland pulls out a win. Ecuador can stay in the running with a decent win over Honduras, but a tie between France and Switzerland would make the chances of advancing very slim for the other two teams.

Commentary by Christina Jones

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