World Cup Special #5: Group E

by Ray_North on May 24, 2014

Unknown-5Yes, you wait for ages then two come along together – the second in a single day of my World Cup Reviews and this time I focus on Group E – and if Group D, was the Group of Death, then, and I apologise to followers of Ecuador, France, Switzerland and Honduras, this the Group of Yawn, because, let’s face it, none of these teams really set the pulse racing.

But, I’ve been wrong before, in fact I’m wrong about something most hours, so, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this group turns out to be a cracker.

Let’s start with the favourites – France. Alas, the France of 2014, are not the France of 1998, there is no Zidane, no Deschamps, no Thierry Henry – nor, though, are they the vintage of 2010, when they pretty much self-destructed in South Africa – with former World Cup Winning Skipper Didier Deschamps at the helm they have a team with a very good spine – who qualified with some difficulty having to go through a nerve wracking play-off against the Ukraine before they booked their ticket to Brazil. In that spine, the goalkeeper Lloris is outstanding, and the two Premiership Stoppers, Sakho of Liverpool and Varane of Real Madrid are big and strong, in midfield, Cabaye and Pogba are also well known to us here in Britain, whilst up front Benzema will enjoy the service of the excellent Frank Ribery of Bayern.

They’ll comfortably get through the Group of Yawn (not quite working that is it, I might have to re-think), but afterwards, despite their very solid spine, I can’t quite see that they’ve quite got the class to win the thing – perhaps the quarters. Unknown-6

Player to watch – Raphael Varane looks the real deal for me.

Switzerland qualified at a canter to this World Cup – unbeaten in a group which included amongst others Iceland and Slovenia – their record in the tournament is decidedly mediocre – reaching the round of 16 in USA in 1994 (under Roy Hodgson), and repeating that feat in 2004 – other than that, they’ve not really set the world alight.

Will this time be different?

Well, much will depend upon the two Nepalese schemers Velon Bahrami (who I quite liked at West Ham) and Gokhan Inker, whilst up front Govranovic looks quite tidy and will be well supported by Ademir Mehmedi. In defence, they still rely upon the former Gooners Sanderos and Djourou which doesn’t really instill confidence. The Swiss will do ok – and might sneak through.Unknown-7

Player to watch is the super-speedie Bayern Munich winger, Sherdan Shaqiri.

Ecuador qualified from the South American group, and any nation who manages that, should not be sniffed at – finishing above Uruguay and proving extremely resilient in the process. The gaffer is Ronaldo Rueda, who I know very little about other than that he has a masters degree in PE, which means he should be adept at putting out the cones and sorting out the bibs. Their most important players are the veteran Endez and the inconsistent Man United favourite Valencia, who control just about everything the Ecuadorians do. Up front they’ll look to Ayovi who plays his football in Mexico and Caicedo whose goals largely got them through the qualifying group.

I’m interested in Ecuador, but I don’t expect them to do a great deal this Summer.

Player to watch, er, let’s go for Fidel Martinez because I like his name and the suggestion is that he is a goalscoring midfielder and everyone likes those, oh and he’s got mental hairUnknown-8.

Honduras will enjoy their time in Brazil and will be afraid of no-one in the Group of Yawn. This is their third World Cup, and they have never gone beyond the group stages, but with Louis Suarez as their manager (the 54 year old Colombian as opposed to the mercurial Scouse maverick arm biter) and seemingly most of the team having played at some point for Wigan, they will see this as their chance.

Their team does boast a number of players who are well-known to us – full back Figueroa has never let anyone down in his days at Wigan then Hull, whilst Wilson Palacios, now at Stoke, also had a good few years at Wigan, before moving to Spurs. Roger Espinoza is another with links to Wigan (well, more than that actually, as he still plays for them), whilst Garcia also plays for, of course, Wigan. Up front Jerry Bengston has a record of goals and keeper Valadares has 120 caps so hopefully knows what he’s doing.

Unknown-9I’ve got a good feeling about Honduras. Player to watch, Carlos Costly great name and scores goals.

My prediction (to keep George happy)
1. France
2. Honduras
3. Switzerland
4. Ecuador

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