World Cup guide: Group E

  • By: Ben Linfoot
  • Last Updated: June 14 2014, 23:18 BST

Ben Linfoot previews what appears to be a fairly weak Group E at the World Cup.

Karim Benzema: Key man for France
Karim Benzema: Key man for France

You can find guides to all the other groups as well as all the rest of our previews and features here, including our outright and top goalscorer tips.


SWITZERLAND


Outright odds (with Sky Bet): 100/1
To win group: 5/2
To qualify: 4/6

Full squad: Diego Benaglio (VfL Wolfsburg), Yann Sommer (FC Basel), Roman Buerki (Grasshoppers), Johan Djourou (Hamburg SV), Michael Lang (Grasshoppers), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Ricardo Rodriguez (VfL Wolfsburg), Fabian Schaer (FC Basel), Philippe Senderos (Valencia), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys), Reto Ziegler (Sassuolo), Tranquillo Barnetta (Eintracht Frankfurt), Valon Behrami (Napoli), Blerim Dzemaili (Napoli), Gelson Fernandes (Freiburg), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich), Valentin Stocker (FC Basel), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Josip Drmic (Nuremberg), Mario Gavranovic (FC Zurich), Haris Seferovic (Real Socieded), Admir Mehmedi (Freiburg).

Manager: Ottmar Hitzfeld

World Cup record: Quarter-finals (1934, 1938, 1954).

How they qualified (most recent first): Comfortable winners of UEFA's Group E, finishing top by seven points from Iceland after winning seven of their 10 matches, drawing the other three.

v Slovenia (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Xhaka 74
v Albania (away) 2-1 (HT 0-0) Shaqiri 47, Lang 77
v Norway (away) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Schaer 12, 51
v Iceland (home) 4-4 (HT 3-1) Lichtsteiner 15,30, Schaer 27, Dzemaili 54p
v Cyprus (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Seferovic 90
v Cyprus (away) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Iceland (away) 2-0 (HT 0-0) Barnetta 66, Gavranovic 79
v Norway (home) 1-1 (HT 0-0) Gavranovic 79
v Albania (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Shaqiri 23, Inler 68p
v Slovenia (away) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Xhaka 20, Inler 51

Goalscorers: Switzerland shared the goals around in qualifying with Fabian Schaer top-scoring with three.

Half-time/full-time: Switzerland were drawing at half-time in seven of their wins, gaining half-time leads for their other three victories.

Clean sheets: Switzerland's defence is a strength as they kept seven clean sheets in 10 qualifiers. They only conceded six goals in qualifying - four of them in one game in the 4-4 draw with Iceland.

Win to nil: Six of their seven wins were 'to nil'.

Other competitive internationals: None in the qualification period or since. Switzerland even failed to qualify for Euro 2012.

Build-up (most recent first): The Swiss led Croatia twice but failed to beat them in March. More recently they struggled to narrow victories over Jamaica and Peru.

v Peru (home) 2-0 (HT 0-0) Lichtsteiner 78, Shaqiri 84
v Jamaica (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Drmic 84
v Croatia (home) 2-2 (HT 2-1) Drmic 32, 41
v South Korea (away) 1-2 (HT 1-0) Kasami 7

Team verdict: Switzerland will likely be fighting for second spot with Ecuador behind France in Group E.

The positives are thus: their coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, has huge experience having won the Bundesliga seven times. Stephan Lichtsteiner won another Scudetto with Juventus, whilst Gökhan Inler, Valon Behrami and Blerim Dzemaili won the Coppa Italia for Napoli. Xherdan Shaqiri won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich too. So there are winners in this squad.

The negatives: their strikers are inexperienced and goals could be hard to come by. And when it comes down to it, Ecuador are more adventurous and look better equipped to deal with the Brazilian heat.

Best bet (with Sky Bet: Switzerland not to qualify at 6/5


ECUADOR


Outright odds (with Sky Bet): 125/1
To win group: 10/3
To qualify: 4/5

Full squad: Maximo Banguera (Barcelona, Ecuador), Adrian Bone (El Nacional), Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito); Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Flamengo), Jorge Guagua (Emelec), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona, Ecuador); Segundo Castillo (Al Hilal), Carlos Gruezo (Stuttgart), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem), Fidel Martinez (Tijuana), Edison Mendez (Santa Fe), Christian Noboa (Dinamo Moscow), Luis Saritama (Barcelona, Ecuador), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United); Jaime Ayovi (Tijuana), Felipe Caicedo (Al-Jazira), Jefferson Montero (Morelia), Joao Rojas (Cruz Azul), Enner Valencia (Pachuca), Michael Arroyo (Atlante).

Manager: Reinaldo Rueda

World Cup record: Last 16 (2006), Group stage (2002)

How they qualified (most recent first): Finished fourth in South American qualifying, winning seven times from 16 qualifiers, drawing four and losing the other five.

v Chile (away) 1-2 (HT 0-2) Caicedo 66
v Uruguay (home) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Montero 30
v Bolivia (away) 1-1 (HT 1-1) Caicedo 57p
v Colombia (away) 0-1 (HT 0-1)
v Argentina (home) 1-1 (HT 1-1) Castillo 17
v Peru (away) 0-1 (HT 0-1)
v Paraguay (home) 4-1 (HT 1-1) Caicedo 37, Benitez 54, Montero 49, 74
v Venezuela (away) 1-1 (HT 1-1) Castillo 23
v Chile (home) 3-1 (HT 1-1) Caicedo 33, 56, Castillo 90+2
v Uruguay (away) 1-1 (HT 1-0) Caicedo 7p
v Bolivia (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Caicedo 73p
v Colombia (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Benitez 53
v Argentina (away) 0-4 (HT 0-3)
v Peru (home) 2-0 (HT 0-0) Mendez 69, Benitez 88
v Paraguay (away) 1-2 (HT 0-0) Rojas 90+2
v Venezuela (home) 2-0 (HT 2-0) Ayovi 15, Benitez 28

Goalscorers: Felipe Caicedo led the way with eight goals, three of them from the penalty spot.

Half-time/full-time: Five of Ecuador's seven wins came when they were drawing at half-time. The other two they had already established a half-time lead.

Clean sheets: Ecuador kept five clean sheets from 16 qualifiers.

Win to nil: Five of Ecuador's seven wins were to nil.

Other competitive internationals: None - the last Copa America was back in 2011.

Build-up (most recent first): A stunning 4-3 win over Australia, in which they came from 3-0 down, will be long remembered by Ecuadorians. Aside from that a draw in the Netherlands was a decent result, but they were well beaten recently by Mexico.

v England (neutral) 2-2 (HT 1-1) E Valencia 8, Arroyo 70
v Mexico (neutral) 1-3 (HT 0-1) E Valencia 82
v Netherlands (away) 1-1 (HT 1-1) Montero 9
v Australia (neutral) 4-3 (HT 0-3) F Martinez 57, Castillo 61p, E Valencia 77, Mendez 90+3
v Honduras (neutral) 2-2 (HT 1-0) Ayovi 16 Valencia 89
v Argentina (neutral) 0-0 (HT 0-0)

Team verdict: If France turn up with their A-game then Ecuador look like being in a straight shoot-out with Switzerland for the second qualifying spot. It may pay not to read too much into their performances against Holland and England in friendlies when assessing their chance. Instead their performances in qualifying, in particularly their success over Uruguay, are a better gauge and on that form they may have it in them to progress from Group E. They'll be doing it for 'Chucho', following the shock passing of Christian Benitez who died of heart failure in Qatar last year.

Best bet (with Sky Bet): Ecuador to qualify at 4/5.


FRANCE


Outright odds (with Sky Bet): 22/1
To win group: 4/5
To qualify: 1/5

Full squad: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Bastia), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Lucas Digne (Paris St Germain) Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Yohan Cabaye (Paris St Germain), Clement Grenier (Olympique Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Loic Remy (QPR), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich).

Manager: Didier Deschamps

World Cup record: Winners (1998), runners-up (2006), third (1958, 1986), fourth (1982)

How they qualified (most recent first): After finishing second behind Spain in UEFA Group I, France qualified for the World Cup by overcoming Ukraine 3-2 on aggregate - overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit in the process.

v Ukraine (home) 3-0 (HT 2-0) Sakho 22, 72, Benzema 34
v Ukraine (away) 0-2 (HT 0-0)
v Finland (home) 3-0 (HT 1-0) Ribery 8, OG 77, Benzema 87
v Belarus (away) 4-2 (HT 0-1) Ribery 47, 64p, Nasri 71, Pogba 74
v Georgia (away) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Spain (home) 0-1 (HT 0-0)
v Georgia (home) 3-1 (HT 1-0) Giroud 45+1, Valbuena 47, Ribery 61
v Spain (away) 1-1 (HT 0-1) Giroud 90+4
v Belarus (home) 3-1 (HT 0-0) Capoue 48, Jallet 68, Ribery 80
v Finland (away) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Diaby 20

Goalscorers: Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery topped the scoring charts with four in qualifying.

Half-time/full-time: France won four of their six qualifying matches (including their play-off win) by leading at half-time.

Clean sheets: France kept four clean sheets in 10 qualifying games (including play-offs).

Win to nil: Three of their six wins were 'to nil'.

Other competitive internationals: None. The last competitive games for Europe's elite other than qualifying came at Euro 2012 where France disappointed in the group stage, scraped through to the quarter-finals and lost to eventual champions Spain.

Build-up (most recent first): France have impressed since booking their spot in Brazil with a March win over the Netherlands a notable one. Norway were thrashed but a late equaliser against Paraguay in Paris denied them another victory. Set off for Brazil in good spirits after an astonishing 8-0 rout of Jamaica in Lille.

v Jamaica (home) 8-0 (HT 3-0) Cabaye 17, Matuidi 20, 66, Benzema 38, 63, Giroud 53, Griezmann 77, Griezmann 89
v Paraguay (home) 1-1 (HT 0-0) Griezmann 82
v Norway (home) 4-0 (HT 1-0) Pogba 15, Giroud 51, 69, Remy 67
v Netherlands (home) 2-0 (HT 2-0) Benzema 32, Matuidi 41

Team verdict: The decision not to pick Samir Nasri for the French squad is an indication of Didier Deschamps' ruthlessness, though the Manchester City midfielder's omission was a major surprise.

In his absence, responsibility weighs heavily on Karim Benzema and you feel if France are to go deep into the tournament he will have had to have outstanding competitions.

They should have the class to justify skinny qualification odds, but 22/1 about their outright chances doesn't get the pulse racing.

It should be noted that Benzema struggled in Euro 2012 and though he's been in good form for Real Madrid it wouldn't really surprise if he drew another blank.

Olivier Giroud doesn't appeal to take the tournament by storm and Ribery might not be fully fit.

Ben Linfoot "Juventus' dynamic midfielder Paul Pogba (seven goals in Serie A last season) could be worth an interest at a big price in the France top scorer market."
Ben Linfoot

Best bet (with Sky Bet): Paul Pogba to be France's top-scorer at 14/1.


HONDURAS


Outright odds (with Sky Bet): 1500/1
To win group: 22/1
To qualify: 5/1

Full squad: Noel Valladares, Donis Escober (both Olimpia), Luis Lopez (Real Espana); Brayan Beckeles (Olimpia), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic), Juan Carlos Garcia (Wigan), Maynor Figueroa (Hull), Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes), Osman Chavez (Qingdao Janoon), Juan Pablo Montes (Motagua); Arnold Peralta (Rangers), Luis Garrido (Olimpia), Roger Espinoza (Wigan), Jorge Claros (Motagua), Wilson Palacios (Stoke), Oscar Garcia (Houston Dynamo), Andy Najar (Anderlecht), Mario Martinez (Real Espana), Marvin Chavez (Colorado Rapids); Jerry Bengtson (New England Revolution), Jerry Palacios (Alajuelense), Carlo Costly (Real Espana), Rony Martinez (Real Sociedad).

Manager: Luis Fernando Suarez

World Cup record: Group stage (1982, 2010)

How they qualified (most recent first): Finished third in their final CONCACAF qualification group behind USA and Costa Rica, but ahead of Mexico and old foes from third-round qualification, Panama.

v Jamaica (away) 2-2 (HT 2-1) Costly 2 Figueroa 32
v Costa Rica (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Bengtson 64
v Panama (home) 2-2 (HT 1-0) Costly 28, Palacios 62
v Mexico (away) 2-1 (HT 0-1) Bengston 63 Costly 66
v USA (away) 0-1 (HT 0-0)
v Jamaica (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Garcia 10, Rojas 88
v Costa Rica (away) 0-1 (HT 0-1)
v Panama (away) 0-2 (HT 0-1)
v Mexico (home) 2-2 (HT 0-1) Costly 77, Bengtson 80
v USA (home) 2-1 (HT 1-1) Garcia 40, Bengtson 79
v Canada (home) 8-1 (HT 4-0) Bengtson 7, 17, 83, Costly 29, 49, 88, Martinez 33, 61
v Panama (away) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Cuba (home) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Bengtson 33
v Cuba (away) 3-0 (HT 1-0) Bengtson 32, Bernardez 62, Chavez 90+3
v Canada (away) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Panama (home) 0-2 (HT 0-0)

Goalscorers: Using the stats from only the more competitive final phase of qualifying, Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengtson got four goals apiece in qualifying (Bengtson also got five in the previous round).

Half-time/full-time: Honduras won from all positions, coming from a half-time deficit away in Mexico for one of their wins.

Clean sheets: Honduras managed to keep just two clean sheets in their 10 final-stage qualifiers.

Win to nil: Both of those clean sheets earned wins to nil.

Other competitive internationals (most recent first): After finishing runners-up to Costa Rica in the Copa Centroamericana last January, Honduras went forward to the CONCACAF Gold Cup where they lost to eventual winners and hosts USA in the quarter-finals in July.

v USA (away) 1-3 (HT 0-2) Medina 52
v Costa Rica (neutral) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Najar 49
v Trinidad & Tobago (neutral) 0-2 (HT 0-0)
v El Salvador (neutral) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Claros 90+2
v Costa Rica (away) 0-1 (HT 0-1)
v Belize (neutral) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Beckeles 67
v Haiti (neutral) 2-0 (HT 1-0) R Martinez 4, M Chavez 78
v Panama 1-1 (HT 1-1) Montes 31
v El Salvador 1-1 (HT 0-0) Bengtson 75

Build-up (most recent first): Recent friendly defeats to Israel and Turkey, neither of whom will be in Brazil, do not bode particularly well. And best not mention November's clash with the hosts and tournament favourites.

v England (neutral) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Israel (neutral) 2-4 (HT 0-1) Espinoza 47, Costly 83
v Turkey (neutral) 0-2 (HT 0-0)
v Venezuela (home) 2-1 (HT 1-1) Bengtson 7, J Palacios 50
v Ecuador (neutral) 2-2 (HT 0-1) Costly 63, 67
v Brazil (neutral) 0-5 (HT 0-1)

Team verdict: Many Honduras players ply their trade in England and Scotland; namely Juan Carlos Garcia and Roger Espinoza at Wigan, Maynor Figueroa at Hull, Wilson Palacios at Stoke, Emilio Izaguirre at Celtic and Arnold Peralta at Rangers.

Their performances in qualifying, particularly the impressive 2-1 win away in Mexico, suggest that they shouldn't be dismissed too lightly in Group E.

However, they will struggle to qualify and the best bet could well be for them to finish bottom as France, Switzerland and Ecuador really should be too strong.

Best bet (with Sky Bet): Honduras to finish bottom of Group E at 1/2.


GROUP VERDICT


France are odds-on for Group E glory and, on paper, it's hard to argue they don't deserve their favourites' tag.

They might've only just scraped through to the finals via a play-off, but Les Bleus have a very good spine and something will have gone drastically wrong if they don't progress from their group.

Further down the line they could well struggle against Portugal or even Bosnia, but at around 5/6 they aren't a bad price to get through to the knockout stages as group winners.

Honduras look the whipping boys here as it's hard to see where the goals are coming from, though they are a fairly solid defensive unit. Narrow defeats look likely.

Ben Linfoot "Switzerland v Ecuador could be the crucial game in the race for the second qualifying spot and I just fancy Reinaldo Rueda's team to prevail."
Ben Linfoot

Ecuador's win over Uruguay suggests they shouldn't be dismissed lightly and Switzerland's inexperience up front could cost them in the end.

At 7/2, the France-Ecuador straight-forecast makes plenty of appeal.

  • Odds correct as of June 4.


New Sky Bet customers: Free matched bet up to £30