Our group by group preview of the teams that will be competing in Brazil continues with Group E: Ecuador, France, Honduras and Switzerland.
Ecuador is a team without a lot of household names. They are, however, a cohesive unit as most of the squad plays their club football in the Ecuadorian league. They are also united in tragedy as the team’s top striker Christian Benitez died suddenly of a heart attack last July.
This is Ecuador’s third World Cup. In 2002 they finished bottom of their group. Then in 2006 they made it to the last 16, but were eliminated by England.
The club is managed by Colombian Reinaldo Rueda who previously led Honduras to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Ecuador’s key player is midfielder Antonio Valencia of Manchester United. Another to look out for is forward Jefferson Montero who plays his club football in Mexico.
The French national team might as well have its own reality show as there always seems to be some kind of controversy or disaster surrounding the squad.
France’s recent World Cup history has been all or nothing. In 1998 they were the champions. Then in 2002 they didn’t make it out of the first round. In 2006 the French lost to Italy in the final. In South Africa, the French imploded on and off the field. They didn’t win one match and the team revolted against manager Raymond Domenech after he sent Nicolas Anelka home due to insubordination.
Current manager Didier Deschamps had a successful playing career and has managed top clubs Juventus, Monaco and Marseille.
The French have already been dealt a blow as midfielder Franck Ribery suffered a back injury and will miss the World Cup.
Even without Ribery, the French have a lot of weapons including Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema and 21-year-old midfielder Paul Pogba of Juventus.
France’s defense is impressive and includes Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna.
Honduras is making its third World Cup appearance and is still looking for the team’s first World Cup win.
Colombian Luis Fernando Suarez has been manager of Honduras since 2011. Suarez has World Cup experience as he led Ecuador to the round of 16 at the 2006 tournament in Germany.
Key players for Honduras include forward Jerry Bengtson who plays for MLS side New England Revolution and midfielder Andy Najar of Anderlecht. On defense, left back Emilio Izaguirre of Celtic brings European experience.
The Swiss head to Brazil with a FIFA ranking of six and high on confidence. The team finished top of their group in the qualifying rounds and find themselves in a good position to make it out of the group stages.
German Ottmar Hitzfeld is considered one of the best managers in world football and has won 19 titles as a manager in Switzerland and Germany. These include two Champions League victories with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. He has been at the helm for Switzerland since 2008.
The Swiss have a talented group of young players that are members of some of the biggest clubs throughout Europe. This includes Barcelona midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri and forward Josip Drmic of Nuremberg.
Next time we’ll take a look at Group F: Argentina, Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria.
Past Group Previews