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World Cup Preview: Group E Breakdown

by Photo of Matthew Golda

France has scored their way to the top of the group, but who finishes second?

World Cup Preview: Group E Breakdown

Group Standings

1) France: 6 points, +6 goal differential, 2-0-0

2) Ecuador: 3 points, 0 goal differential, 1-0-1

3) Switzerland: 3 points, - 2 goal differential, 1-0-1

4) Honduras: 0 points, - 4 goal differential, 0-0-2

Final Matches

France vs Ecuador, 4 PM ET, Estadio Do Maracana, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Switzerland vs Honduras, 4 PM ET, Arena Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil

What's At Stake

With France's scoring outburst and subsequent two wins, they are pretty much guaranteed to win the group. I mean, let's put it this way: Ecuador isn't beating France 6-0. So let's move on. The other three teams are technically still alive to move on. However, it is very unlikely Honduras is that team. With just a 2.2% chance of moving on according to FiveThirtyEight, Honduras would need a minor miracle. And based on how poorly they have performed in their first two games, I don't see them turning it around. If they don't qualify - which I'm certain they won't - they will most likely be the only CONCACAF team not to advance. That's if the US advances tomorrow, which, all patriotism aside, they should. That would be quite a feat for a confederation of teams that have been the source of a lot of criticism for producing weak squads.

So, with Honduras likely out, we are left with Switzerland and Ecuador as the two teams vying for that second spot. Both teams have a win and a loss, but Ecuador's goal differential stands at 0 compared to Switzerland's - 2. However, odds say Switzerland advances. This is due to the nature of each team's opponent. Switzerland is playing Honduras, who are really just playing for a miracle, but Ecuador is playing top team France, who have looked as dangerous as anybody thus far in the tournament. 

For Switzerland to advance, they will likely need to beat Honduras, which seems like it should happen. But should is far from what this World Cup has been about. Just ask the Ivory Coast, who were minutes away from advancing until this happened. That's rough, but a good indicator that you need to play smart until the final whistle (dammit, Geoff Cameron, dammit). 

But I expect Switzerland to rebound from whatever ailments they were suffering from last match when they went down 5-0 to the French before scoring two meaningless goals. Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who is only 22, has been less than stellar for his home country. He is arguably their best player and they need him to show up against Honduras.

For Ecuador, it is not as easy. Let's start by breaking down their World Cup qualifying route, which was peculiar. They only managed three points on the road through the entire qualification process. They play with a bizarre circumstance at home, where their field is at an altitude of 9,350 ft. To put that into perspective, Denver is 5,690 ft. at its highest point. Talk about a home-field advantage. The Ecuadorians won every match at home, except one. That was a 1-1 draw against Argentina. On the road, they managed to win a grand total of ZERO games. They did draw three times. So, what I'm say is that I'm skeptical about how good this team really is and I have my doubts they can defeat France. However, I do not have my doubts about Valencia. No, not Antonio Valencia, the one who plays for Manchester United. I'm talking about Enner Valencia, the breakout star for the Ecuadorians this World Cup. All three goals by Ecuador in this World Cup have come way of the 25 year old Valencia. Not too shabby. He could be looking at a nice payday when this tournament is over.

Who Will Advance?

France and Switzerland. 

We all know France is winning the group, but they also decide who finishes second. If they come out with the same style of play in their previous two matches, then Ecuador is probably in trouble. I don't think they can do much better than a draw against a French team that looks like a stark contrast from the bunch that took the pitch in South Africa in 2010. With Switzerland likely winning, I see them getting through to the next round of competition. 

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