FIFA World Cup Soccer 2014 Group E Pick and Preview
Sunday 15th June 2014 17:00
The Line: France 17/20 Switzerland 3/1 Equador 9/2 Honduras 25/1 See the Latest Odds
TV: BBC; UTV:Fox Sports:ESPN; RTE
Star Man: Antonio Valencia
Manager: Reinaldo Rueda Rivera
After coming through the tough South American World Cup Qualifying there will be no doubt that Equador will be battle hardened and will be looking to cause an upset in a Group that at least on paper looks like one of the weaker ones in the Tournament. Equador have proven to be a tough nut to crack with draws against Argentina at home and Uruguay away and a landmark victory against Uruguay at home. Their manager Reinaldo Rueda Rivera will look to Manchester United star Antonio Valenica to lead by example, something he did not do when getting sent off in a recent friendly against England. If Equador are to spring a surprise Enner Valencia and former Manchester City player Caciedo will be the key up front. This is a tough tackling team and I think that they may just have enough to cause a shock here by qualifying from the group.
Prediction for Group: Group Runners Up
Star Man: Karim Benzema
Manager: Didier Deschamps
One of the main criticism of France over the last couple of tournaments was that there was too much emphasis on the individual and not enough emphasis on the team, well Didier Deschamps has definitely tried to amend that and one of his big pre tournament decisions to leave Samir Nasri out of the squad was based on Nasri not being good for the team. Nasri's individual brilliance is not in question but Deschamps has said in interviews that his presence is often divisive and therefore counter productive. This is a talent rich squad with European Champions League winner Karim Benzema leading the line alongside Arsenal's Olivier Giroud and Juventis Paul Pogba dictating from the midfield. With Remy, Griezmann on the bench and a strong defence Les Blues could be about to bounce back strongly from their awful world cup display in 2010. I am taking france to win this group at generous odds. One of my favourite bets of the first rounds.
Prediction: Group Winners
Star Man: Rony Martinez
Manager: Luis Suarez
Honduras will put themselves about in this group and there is no doubt that they have the ability to cause a shock as proven by their finishing ahead of Mexico in World Cup qualifying but personally I think they will come up just short former spurs central midfielder Wilson Palacious will be one of the key men for Honduras marshalling the middle and protecting the back four. It will be left to Real Sociedad striker Rony Martinez who had a career year this year netting 22 goals in 38 appearances to score the goals for Honduras, he will probably line up along side veteran Carlos Costly who has scored 29 goals in 60 odd appearances for Honduras and will surely be his last World Cup. While I think Honduras will fight hard and in a group like this they may be able to frustrate teams for long periods I think in the end they will just come up short and head home after the Group stage.
Prediction: Group Exit
Star Man: Xherdan Shaqiri
Manager: Otmar Hitzfield
One of the expectations for Switzerland is qualification. They seem to always qualify for major tournaments but then fail to deliver on the big occasion. With former Bayern Munich manager Ottmar Hotzfield at the helm the Swiss will be well prepared but at the moment I am not sure they have the players to make an impact here. There is no doubt Shaqiri the young Bayern Munich player and Gokhan Inler the Napoli midfielder can cause problems for teams but I dont see a top class striker in the squad to score the goals necessary to progress from a World Cup group. Its is for this reason I am going to say that Switzerland struggle here and exit at the Group stage.
Prediction: Group Exit