Group E consists of France, Honduras, Switzerland, and Ecuador. There are two clear cut favorites in the group; France and Switzerland. Honduras and Ecuador could pose a surprising threat to the prospective group advancers. Honduras plays a passionate brand of football and that heart can possibly outmatch talent if the other teams aren’t careful. France has a history as of late of laying an egg in high profile tournaments. It’s hard to know which France you will get so we will just have to see. I fully expect Le Bleu to get it together and find a way to advance. France also have a rich soccer tradition thanks to the heroics of Zinedine Zidane, but have fallen from the pedestal they constructed in the early half of the 2000s. Ecuador will be entering the tournament playing on an endless amount of emotion because one of their better players Christian Benitez, also known as Chucho, passed away last July. So the Ecuadorians will be playing for the honor of their fallen teammate. Switzerland in my estimate will be a top contender in this group and will finish second behind France. Switzerland is a team that not many people are aware of and they have a lot of talented players that just seem to fly under the radar.
Ecuador: Ecuador is a team that has the talent to win every single match, However fatigue, organization, and marking up in the back will be their undoing if they don’t rectify these glaring holes. For Ecuador it’s all about Antonio Valencia the pacy wing player on the right or sometimes left side of midfield. He is supremely talented and one of the best wingers in the world. He delivers all his crosses with pace and purpose. Enner Valencia will look to get on the better half of his surnames gift wrapped deliveries. The key for Ecuador to advance will be the play of the back four. They don’t have any “sexy” players but collectively Ecuador is full of strength and brute force all over the pitch. Adding a smart tactical brain to these alpha males will lead to success. Other notable players are Jefferson Montero the man in the middle of midfield, and forward Felipe Caicedo who is as strong as an ox.
France: France is a team who is full of talent! The fact that a player with the class Samir Nasri possesses was omitted from the 23 man roster lets you know Le Bleu has a plethora of options. For Le Bleu it’s all about the Benzi. Karim Benzema is simply put a superstar and will need to provide a superstar effort if France want to lift the French man’s trophy (Jules Rimet). Benzema can score in any way possible and possesses keen scoring abilities in front of goal. Olivier Giroud, Benzema’s striking mate, will have to be on top form to take some pressure off of Karim. Giroud is a monster in the air so the French midfielders should try to feed the aerial monster. The back line for Le Bleu is full of stars unlike many nations. Raphael Varane is a young defender that rarely gets beaten or is out of position. He will surely shackle the opponent’s biggest threat. The two wing defenders Captain Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna are world class. They both have an endless work rate of defending admirably and springing into the attack. Hugo Lloris the French goalkeeper is an elite talent in goal and when the strong back line gets beaten it will seriously only get harder to score. Other notable players are defender Mamadou Sakho who completes the lethal backline quartet, Moussa Sissoko in the midfield, Yohann Cabaye partnered with Sissoko, and the young stud in midfield Paul Pogba.
Honduras: Honduras for me honestly doesn’t have a real good chance of getting out of Group E. They should enjoy the sights and sounds while they are in Brazil, maybe even purchase some tickets to the semis and finals because they won’t be there. Honduras do not really have a good goal getter you can count on to find the back of the net. Wilson Palacios will be the driving force in the center of midfield and he will be the key for Honduras. Palacios is a great playmaker and a great shooter on goal. Andy Najar is the other talented midfielder who will have to work his butt off to make Honduras relevant. Other notable players are defender Maynor Figueroa who will have his work cut out for him in Brazil.
Switzerland: The Swiss have one of those teams that people may overlook as a serious contender, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they made their way to the semi-final. The Swiss have a bunch of talented players that don’t get the credit they deserve. For the Swiss it all starts with Xherdan Shaqiri. Shaqiri has a way of evading defenders when there is literally no space what so ever. He scores goals, makes plays, and is hard to dispossess. Granit Xhaka is an uber talented young midfielder who has a rocket launcher of a left foot. His strikes definitely have some giddy-up. He can place a long ball on a dime like an Aaron Rodgers 60-yard bomb to Jordy Nelson. Valon Behrami is another underrated talent who plays all over the attacking third of the pitch and is a well rounded overall footballer. Other notable players are Gokhan Inler winning balls in the midfield, Philippe Senderos organizing the back four along with Johan Djourou, and Stephan Lichtsteiner from his right back position. — Bo So¤