Group E in the 2014 World Cup is certainly a balanced group.
How they got to Brazil
Switzerland - First place finish in UEFA Group E
Currently ranked 8th in the FIFA rankings, The Swiss are 9-14-6 all-time in the World Cup
Ecuador - Finished 4th in CONMEBOL qualifying
Currently ranked 28th in the FIFA rankings, Ecuador is 3-4-0 all-time in the World Cup.
Currently 16th in the FIFA rankings, France is 25-18-11 all-time in the World Cup with one championship.
Honduras - Finished 3rd in CONCACAF qualifying
Currently is ranked 30th in the FIFA rankings, Honduras is 0-3-3 all-time at the World Cup.
Schedule of Games
|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|
Key Players in the Group
Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland - The Swiss midfielder from Bayern Munich could very well be one of the best young players in this tournament. He isn't a big guy by any means but his style and skill will help guide this Swiss squad through this group.
Antonio Valencia, Ecuador - I think as far as the Ecuadorians are concerned, if Valencia has a solid tournament, so will they. He will be the key for them on the wings and in the attack as he does a good job of drawing his opposition wide.
Karim Benzema, France - After the loss of Ribery, the next big guy for France to turn to is Benzema. No other French player has as many international goals as he does and same goes for caps. The Real Madrid forward must guide this incredibly young French squad through a very underrated group.
Oscar Boniek Garcia, Honduras - While the Hondurans have a lot of experience on their side, their hope really rest in the midfield with the Houston Dynamo star. If Garcia can turn it on and play at the level that MLS fans have seen in the past, then the Hondurans may stand a decent shot here in this group.
Game of the Group
France vs Switzerland - The June 20th match will certainly dictate who likely moves through this group and who could be going back to Europe early. With so much young talent on both sides of the field, this will be a fun one to watch.
X-Factor in Group A
Heat. For Ecuador and Honduras, this weather in Brazil will be nothing new to them. But for the two European sides, it could be the difference of advancing or wilting away. Don't sleep on Honduras either, they're returning 10 players, including four starters from the 2010 World Cup. Experience may play a factor against some younger and tired legs.
Final thoughts and Predictions
With France losing Ribery, the balance of this group will really show through. I see one of the European teams making it through, likely Switzerland right now if I had to go with my gut. After that I think Honduras will put up a fight but Ecuador will find a way to deal with the heat and lean on past World Cup experiences to get through this group.
Still, this may be one of the more fascinating groups to watch in terms of young talent because of France and Switzerland. Those young guys are going to lay it all on the line and likely give us a glimpse of what is to come in the future for those two sides.