Group E sees France, Ecuador, Switzerland and Honduras slug it out.
- France: France performed a miracle to get to the world cup. Finishing behind Spain in their qualifying group, they became the first European team to overturn a 2 nil first leg deficit to qualify edging out Ukraine in a 2 legged thriller. Four years ago in South Africa, France exited the tournament in the group stage after player unrest with the team refusing to train. It was a major disaster for Raymond Domenech and his team. To avoid a repeat, coach Didier Deshamps dropped controversial Samir Nasri from the team. His team is solid at the back with Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna, highly rated Eliaquim Mangala, Raphael Varane and Mahamadou Sakho in attendance. Much is expected from young Paul Pogba in midfield and with Franck Ribery missing through injury, Mathieu Valbuena is expected to step up to the plate with Yohann Cabaye providing creativity. Attacking wise, France are strong with Karim Benzema fresh from a stellar season with Real Madrid expected to lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Olivier Giroud, Loic Remy and Antoinne Griezman are fantastic options also for the French in attack.
Ecuador: Ecuador finished 4th in the South American qualifiers. They didn’t lose a single game at home in high altitude conditions in Quito. They didn’t win away either. Coach Reinaldo Rueda’s side are hard to beat as Holland and England found out in recent friendlies. Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia is the captain and main man in the team. Other notable members of the squad are Segundo Castillo, Christian Noboa, winger Jefferson Montero and star striker Caicedo. In familiar South American surroundings, much is expected from this well drilled Ecuadorian side.
- Switzerland: Switzerland shocked the world in 2010 when they beat Spain one nil in their opening group fixture. Sadly they failed to score again in the tournament as they lost 0-1 to Chile and played out a scoreless draw with Honduras. The Swiss were knocked out and Spain eventually won the world cup. In Ottmar Hitzveld, they have a manager who is experienced and has won trophies aplenty at the highest level. He has assembled a young side that are defensively very solid with emphasis on neat, crisp passing and overlapping play from wing backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ricardo Rodriguez. Former Arsenal players Philippe Senderos and Johann Djorou make up part of the defense line. In midfield, Napoli trio Gokhan Inler, Valon Behrami and Blerin Dzemaili are expected to have a good turnament. The star of the team is Bayern’s Xherdan Shaqiri. At 22 years of age, he is one of the hottests prospects in European football and Hitzveld will be looking up to him to enhance his team’s chances.
- Honduras: Honduras are making their 3rd appearance in the world cup and their second in a row. Sadly, they are yet to win a match in the world cup. Their record stands at 3 losses and 3 draws. Coach Luis Fernando Suarez is not new to the world cup scene as he guided Ecuador to the round of 16 in the 2006 edition of the tournament so it is safe to say he knows his stuff at this level. If Honduras hope to qualify from the group stage, they will be hoping that star striker Jerry Bengtson continues his rich run of form for the national side. He scored 9 goals in the qualifiers and his overall record for his country reads 19 goals in 41 appearances. Pretty impressive return. Other key players coach Suarez will be pinning his hopes on are Wilson Palacios, Wigan Athletic’s Roger Espinoza and striker Rony Martinez.
Footynyx Verdict: Surely not a repeat of 2010 for Les Blues. France are expected to top this one with Ecuador coming second.