Linc Sport World Cup preview: Group E

France, Ecuador, Switzerland and Honduras compete in this group. Here’s Edward Seaman’s preview.

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Despite not being the top seeds, France will consider themselves favourites to qualify from Group E. The French will compete with Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras to try and progress from the group. The Swiss are the top seeds and will also be expecting to qualify but will face stiff competition from Ecuador, who may have the advantage with the tournament being on their own continent. Honduras are the outsiders but after two successful Gold Cup campaigns in recent years, will be going into the World Cup with hope.

France have some big names in their squad and will hope that they will perform much better than they did in 2010. If the likes of Frank Ribery, Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba perform, France should have no problem in qualifying. Switzerland will also have to rely on their big names. Ribery’s Bayern team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri and the experienced midfield duo, both of whom play for Napoli, Valon Behrami and Gokhan Inler will need to use all the European know-how to help the Swiss. Ecuador’s Jefferson Montero is one to watch out for. The wide man has blistering pace and can almost be unplayable on his day.

The French also have World Cup experience in their coaching staff. Didier Deschamps won the World Cup as a player with France and has unified the French squad since he took over in 2012. At the other end of his managerial career, Switzerland boss Ottmar Hitzfeld will retire following the World Cup, six years after taking charge. The German has a vast blend of experience at both club and international level, something which could be key. Ecuador boss Reinaldo Rueda has plenty of international experience, including with group rivals Honduras. The Columbian guided the unheralded Honduras to the 2010 World Cup, for which he was granted citizenship of the Central American country. Honduras are currently managed by another Columbian, Luis Fernando Suarez, who took over in 2011.

France had an absolutely woeful time in the 2010 World Cup, crashing out of the group stage amidst controversy and conflict within the camp but now under Didier Deschamps they seemed unified and will hope to qualify from this group with ease. Realistically, the scrap for the 2nd qualification spot will be between Switzerland and Ecuador. The Swiss will be labelled the favourites but Ecuador, who will be playing for the memory of striker Christian Benitez, who died tragically last July from heart failure, will be determined to qualify from the group in his memory. The two meet in the first game on the group on June 15th, which could set the agenda for the group. Unfortunately for Honduras, they may find it tough and it will take a lot for them to upset the odds in Brazil.

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