We have crossed the halfway mark in our extensive coverage of World Cup 2014, and today we are tackling Group E. This group includes France, one of the msot confusing teams in the bracket. In 2006, they made the finals. In 2010, they didn’t win a game. What will happen this time around? Find out in our preview of Group E for World Cup 2014!

Switzerland

Can’t Miss Talent

Gokhan Inler– Inler is one of only two players to have over 70 caps for the international team, and he has earned Captain status for that. The 29-year-old has played for Napoli since 2011, and he’s scored six goals for the national team. While he may not be the player to score the key goal for the Swiss team, he will be the one orchestrating the midfield and setting the rest of the team up for success.

Rising Star

Xherdan Shaqiri– I was tempted to put Shaqiri in both the can’t miss talent and rising star, as he is the most well known Swiss footballer in the world. Shaqiri is just 22 years old, but he is already playing for one of the biggest teams in the world, Bayern Munich. He has notched ten goals there, and another eight for the national team, and again, he’s just 22. There’s little doubt that Shaqiri is the present and the future of this team.

The Key for the Swiss

When you first glance at this group, you probably think that France is the clear cut favorite. However, it is Switzerland, not France, who is in the Top 10. This means that in actuality, Switzerland is the clear cut favorite in this subpar group.  So for Switzerland, the most important thing is to learn to deal with expectations. While France has the experience, Switzerland is the better team. Will they show that?

How Far Can They Go

Winning this group is going to be vital for Switzerland, as in all likelihood, Argentina will be winning Group F, and facing off with the runner up from this group. If the Swiss win? A likely matchup with Bosnia & Herzegovina. Sounds a bit better right? The fact is, experience is so valuable in the World Cup that it’s unlikely Switzerland gets past the Quarterfinals, but the great thing about sports is that unlikely happens all the time.

flag-ecuador-300x200 Ecuador

Can’t Miss Talent

Antonio Valencia- There’s little doubt that Valencia is the star of this South American team that surprised many in their qualifying run. Valencia has played for the great European squad Manchester United, where he has scored 13 goals in an impressive 130 appearances. Valencia will be controlling the midfield, and his experience will prove invaluable if Ecuador is in the fortune position of having to hang onto the ball and kill time with the lead.

FBL-WC2010-QUALIFIERS-ECU-URU

Rising Star

Felipe Caicedo–  I’m once again taking a bit of liberty with the rising star, but this 25-year-old is one of the best scoring option for Ecuador. He has netted 15 times for his national team, and while he’s been bouncing around in lower level teams the past few years, he did have three years of experience with Manchester City a few years ago.

The Key for the Ecuadorians

Ecuador has the luxury of having no pressure on them, as anyone who gazes at this group thinks that Switzerland and France are locks to advance. These teams should not take Ecuador lightly however. In qualifying, they registered a few impressive results, including wins over Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay. They won’t be lacking for confidence, a trait that France can’t say they have. Ecuador will love playing the underdog role. and look for them to turn some heads in this group.

How Far Can They Go

If there is a team that will pull off the upset advance in this group, it’s Ecuador. I don’t see Honduras making much noise, but I could see this team doing some damage. If Ecuador can manage a draw in their opening game against Switzerland, they will be in great shape to advance as long as they take care of business against Honduras. I do think their lack of experience will catch up to them, but advancing to the second round is certainly a possibility.

France Flag Since 1794 France

Can’t Miss Talent

Franck Ribery– Even at 31, Ribery is still one of the best players in the world, and is the unquestioned leader in the midfield and upfront for this French squad. Ribery will have an extra fire under his ass after a rather terrible 2010 World Cup, where Ribery took a good amount of the blame for the team falling on it’s face. This could be Ribery’s last World Cup, and definitely the last of the tail of his prime, so he will be looking to make an impact in Brazil.

Rising Star

Paul Pogba– Pogba is just 21 years old, but he already has plenty of experience playing on the biggest stage. He has only played for two teams on the league level: Manchester United and Juventus. Since 2012, Pogba has 12 goals in 62 appearances with the team, and while he only has one goal in International play, he will likely be adding to that tally this summer.

The Key for the French

France came into the 2010 World Cup with high expectations following a finals run in 2006, and they walked away with their tail between their legs. After Nicholas Anelka was dismissed from the team, the squad reportedly refused to practice, and reluctantly took the field only to fail miserably.  For now, they will simply need to take this one game at a time, as a group stage exit would simply be unacceptable given the poor group.

franck-ribery-World-Cup-2014

How Far Can They Go

Again, France should make it out of this group with realitive, but France isn’t exactly know for living up to expectations. This team is surprisingly youthful, passing on stars like Samir Nasri, Eric Abidal, and Gael Clichy. The goal for all of these teams is to avoid a second round date with Argentina, the likely winners of Group F. If France gets this second round draw, they will likely lose. If they can get any of the other three, they will expected to make the Quartefinals, and from there, anything can happen.

Honduras Honduras

Can’t Miss Talent

Carlo Costly–  Costly is undoubtedly the most well known Honduras national team member, having registered an impressive 30 goals in 63 appearances in his national kit. Honduras is the severe underdog in this group, and Costly will be the guy who wills this team to an unlikely victory if they were to register one. The 31-year-old is the preferred striker for the team, and could very well play all 90 minutes in all three games if his team stays in contention.

Rising Star

Mario Martinez– If this name sounds familiar to some USA fans, it’s because Martinez was loaned out to the Seattle Sounders  two seasons ago. He later returned to Real Espana, the team that has owned his rights since the start of his career. The midfielder has only notched three goals for the national squad, but he will be one of the key cogs on the team regardless of that.

The Key for the Hondurians

Much like Ecuador, Honduras has the underdog status in their favor, but that won’t get it done alone. In reality, the key game for Honduras is the middle match against Ecuador. If one team can get three points from that, they will have a great chance of advancing in this group. If they don’t get a result there, I don’t like their chances.

How Far Can They Go

I just don’t see a way that Honduras makes it out of this group. Switzerland and France are certainly capable of under performing, but even if they do, I like Ecuador to be the team that sneaks in.  If Honduras does sneak in with the likely two seed, they will run straight into South American power Argentina, a proverbial David vs. Goliath matchup.

Final Group Prediction

1. Switzerland

2. France

3. Ecuador

4. Honduras

Who do you think will win this stage? How far can France go in the bracket? Let us know in the comments!

Miss any of our other previews, check them out below!

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D