Switzerland and Honduras are reunited for the second straight FIFA World Cup™ in Group E at Brazil 2014. The Swiss will fancy their chances of making it through to the knockout phase alongside a star-studded France, world champions in 1998. South American outsiders Ecuador, who struggled to finish in a direct qualifying spot from their preliminary campaign, boast a speedy and muscular style of football as do CONCACAF hopefuls Honduras, who famously beat Mexico at their fabled Estadio Azteca en route to South America.
Switzerland-France: While Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Switzerland finished top of their qualifying group, most pundits will point to France as the team to beat in the section. If the French can avoid the kind of internal squabbles that plagued their 2010 run, and if the Swiss can add consistent goalscoring to a solid defence that conceded just six time in qualifying, both will be hopeful of qualifying.
Switzerland secured their place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ on the penultimate qualifying matchday. However, it was far from plain sailing for Die Eidgenossen, who faced several setbacks along the way.
Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld’s ensemble raced to the group summit following opening victories over Slovenia and Albania, but dropped points for the first time in their next qualifying games. Hitzfeld’s charges recorded a 1-1 draw with Norway and a 2-0 victory over Iceland before chalking up a draw and a win against Cyprus.
Ecuador were plagued by inconsistency during their qualifying campaign. While La Tricolorwent undefeated at home, beating every opponent in Quito except Argentina, with whom they drew, the side was unable to reproduce that form on the road, failing to win at all and drawing just three times. Nevertheless, one such stalemate – against Uruguay in Montevideo – proved decisive as Ecuador finished level on points with La Celeste but grabbed the last automatic qualifying spot thanks to their superior goal difference (four compared to Uruguay’s zero).
Drawn into a group that contained not only world and European champions Spain but just five teams overall, France had precious little margin for error when their campaign kicked off. In the end, they made just one slip, losing at home to La Roja¬, but it was a defeat that cost them first place in the section. Didier Deschamps’ side rarely sparkled during the group phase except for a fine performance on Spanish soil, where their efforts were finally rewarded with a last-gasp equaliser in a 1-1 draw.
Following their group-phase exit at South Africa 2010 and the departure of coach Reinaldo Rueda, La H went through a rocky period. The appointment of Luis Fernando Suarez in March 2011 brought stability to the national set-up, however, with the new coach also working hard with Honduras’ youth sides, steering the U-23s to the quarter-finals of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012.
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