Group E Preview – French Tower Above Minnows
World Cup 2014
I expect a strong showing from France at this World Cup while Ecuador could sneak the second spot here.
1998 World Cup winners France have been handed a favourable draw in Group E alongside Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras. The French will be expected to progress with consummate ease but only need look back to the 2002 World Cup – where they lost to Senegal and finished bottom of a group also including Denmark and Uruguay – for a reminder of how seemingly simple equations can go desperately wrong.
France needed a dramatic two-legged play-off win over Ukraine to book their place in Brazil this summer, but lost no face in their group stage campaign when finishing a close second to Spain, losing only one game. Didier Deschamps’ side looked to be heading out of the World Cup after losing 2-0 in Kiev, but came back with a brilliant 3-0 victory at the Stade de France to earn their place at this summer’s showpiece event.
Franck Ribery top scored for the French with five goals, and after drawing 1-1 in Madrid the campaign ultimately came down to a narrow 1-0 loss at home to the Spanish.
Switzerland’s progression from UEFA Group E was a lot more straightforward as they won seven and drew three of their 10 matches to top the group by six points from Iceland.
Having scored just five and conceded only once in their last two World Cup finals campaigns (seven matches) Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side arrive in Brazil with a more naturally attacking side containing some exciting young talent.
Ecuador were the surprise package of South American qualification as they took the fourth automatic qualification spot from Uruguay on goal difference. Five goals from former Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo provided the firepower to Reinaldo Rueda’s men’s challenge.
Honduras were also shock qualifiers from their confederation as they earned an automatic qualification spot by finishing third in CONCACAF qualification. An unbeaten home record and a decisive away win in Mexico did the job for La Bicolor.
Group D Winner
This looks to be a fairly straightforward task for the French and at odds of 4/5 to top Group E they are a good value bet.
Honduras are not considered in the running at odds of 33/1, while Switzerland (5/2) and Ecuador (7/2) should be expected to battle it out for second spot.
Group D Qualification
Although Honduras showed at the last World Cup that they are capable of causing teams problems, it’s unlikely they’ll have enough to claim a top-two spot.
France can be expected to head the group with three wins and the fate of the other qualification spot could be decided in the group opener when Switzerland (8/13) take on Ecuador (5/6). At the slightly bigger price of the two I’d suggest a bet on the South American outfit here.