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2014 World Cup Group E Preview

11 June 11:00 am

2014 World Cup Group E Preview

By Daniel Robertson

WORLD CUP GROUP PREVIEWS: GROUP A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H

2014 World Cup Group E

ECUADOR

How they got here: Finished fourth in CONMEBOL qualifying

2010 World Cup: DNP

Best case: Playing in South America, Ecuador punches above their weight a bit and finishes at the top of a group that's there for the taking. With a matchup against the weak second place team in group F, Ecuador makes it all the way to the quarterfinals.

Worst case: Ecuador is unable to take advantage of the South American conditions and fall to a pair of teams that, on paper, are probably better than Ecuador, sending the South American's out at the group stage.

Player to watch: Jefferson Montero is a dynamic attacking midfielder who has found lots of success in Liga MX for Morelia after washing out of Europe. He'll be a player Ecuador will be relying on for a lot of offense.

X Factor: Antonio Valencia is the one name on Ecuador that will be known by most soccer fans and he's got the ability to make Ecuador a very tough team to beat. It will be interesting to see where the versatile player lines up.

FRANCE

How they got here: Came from two goals down to defeat Ukraine in UEFA qualifying playoffs

2010 World Cup: Disastrously crashed out at the group stage failing to win a game.

Best case: France continues their yo-yo World Cup trend and dominates a group that, on paper, they're clearly the best team. The 1998 champions will miss Franck Ribery, but Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba pick up the slack for a France side that strolls to the quarterfinals.

Worst case: A younger French squad fails to gel together, Ribery is badly missed and the in-fighting once again plagues the French team who falls at the group stage for the second straight world cup.

Player to watch: With Franck Ribery out, a French winger named Antoine Griezmann could be set for a big tournament. Having played his whole career at Real Sociedad in Spain, the 23-year-old isn't terribly well known, but he's impressed in the Champions League and has scored three goals in France's World Cup warmup games.

X Factor: He's as streaky of a forward as you'll find, but Karim Benzema will have to be good for France to advance far in the tournament. If he can create his own chances and punish weaker defenses of Honduras and Ecuador, a guy like Benzema could be a dark horse for the golden boot.

HONDURAS

How they got here: Finished third in CONCACAF qualifying.

2010 World Cup: Finished with one point in their group and did not score a goal.

Best case: For Honduras, they'll remember the lessons of 2010 and have a better World Cup. That doesn't mean they'll advance from the group, but perhaps they can score a couple goals.

Worst case: Another winless and goalless tournament is very possible for Los Catrachos.

Player to watch: A player that long-time MLS fans will be familiar with, former DC United Homegrown signing Andy Najar has done very well since moving to Anderlecht in Belgium. Still just 21, the winger has a chance to be Honduras' most famous and best player ever.

X Factor: Another former MLS'er, midfielder Roger Espinoza will be key to Honduras' hopes. Having played in the Premier League, Espinoza will not be out of his depth at the World Cup and could earn a move to a bigger team than Wigan with a nice tournament.

SWITZERLAND

How they got here: Won their UEFA qualifying group.

2010 World Cup: Had a respectable 1-1-1 showing including a win over eventual champions Spain, but failed to advance from the group.

Best case: A young and dynamic team has one of their myriad of youthful attacking players step up to another level and Switzerland finds the goals to make them a formidable team in the tournament advancing from the group.

Worst case: Where do the goals come from? There are some very good players on the Switzerland team, but the lack of depth proves consequential and the Swiss simply can't find the goals to beat anyone in the group.

Player to watch: Tiny Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri could be set for a breakout tournament. He's been somewhat hidden by the mass of attacking talent at his Bavarian club side and the World Cup gives him the stage to shine.

X Factor: Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio can be among the best in the world when on the top of his game, but he's fallen off the map a little bit recently with Wolfsburg. Benaglio is a player that could earn Switzerland a result almost single-handedly.

PREDICTION

France 1st, Ecuador 2nd, Switzerland 3rd, Honduras 4th

I really think France could be set for a surprisingly good tournament. Rumors have abounded that Ribery's absence may turn out to be a positive for Didier Deschamps' side and I like them to have a relatively easy group stage win.

After that, I'm going to take the South America factor for Ecuador to get them past Switzerland.

What do you think about this one?