World Cup Group E Preview
By Grant Becker
Preview: A group that seems more open each day, Group E will be an interesting one to watch. The big news in Group E is that Franck Ribery will not play in the World Cup due to a lingering back injury. With Ribery out this group lacks the star power that so many other groups boast. The Swiss currently sit at sixth in the FIFA rankings and the French reached the final in 2006, but outside of those two facts it is unknown what the teams in this group are capable of. Honduras played well and horribly during the qualifying stages, the Swiss have fantastic potential, the French have several players with great upside, and Ecuador have the South American advantage as well as a tactically flexible squad.
Key Game: When Switzerland and France meet the two teams in this group with verified pedigree will battle it out for the top spot. This match is likely to decide who takes the top spot and who finishes runner-up, which is probably the most is intriguing thing about the match. The battle here will most definitely take place in the midfield where both the Swiss and French are strong and deep.
X-Factor: French midfield warrior Blaise Matuidi is capable of so many different things on the field, and with Franck Ribery out of the lineup and two hit and miss strikers up front, he’ll have to do all of those things. Matuidi plays his trade in France, for Ligue 1 Kings Paris Saint-Germain. If Matuidi plays at the level his manage Didier Deschamps expects him to, France could make a run in the knockout stages.
Prediction: France 7, Switzerland 5, Ecuador 2, Honduras 1. France will have what it takes to earn three points against Ecuador and Honduras, but the Swiss won’t be able to find enough goals to take all three against Ecuador. Honduras will only be able to hang in there with Ecuador, and Switzerland and France will both be looking for a point against each other, making for a defensive draw.