World Cup Group E preview: Honduras v Switzerland

Honduras take on Switzerland in the final group E match for both sides at the Arena Amazonia, Manaus, on Thursday June 26 from 6am (AEST).

Head to head

Switzerland and Honduras have met once before but, uninspiringly for anyone looking into betting trends or history, it was a 0-0 draw in the final game of the 2010 World Cup that eliminated the UEFA nation despite them beating eventual world champions Spain.

The game

As we head steadfastly past the halfway mark of the tournament, we have half our participants for the round of 16. Switzerland will be keen to progress into that list by sweeping aside a Honduras side that has mentally and physically checked out of Brazil.

Honduras will welcome back Wilson Palacios - after his suspension from the France game -who will hopefully temper his rage and tackling to avoid a repeat. Following their opening fixture, where they were agricultural in their approach, Honduras showed they could get down and play football, leading Ecuador 1-0 in their second game.

The big issue

Defence – in the battle of the cheese, the Swiss resembled the product bearing the same name, as France put five past a despairing Diego Benaglio. Honduras won’t provide the same attacking intent or style but a clean sheet will give Ottmar Hitzfeld’s defence confidence going into the crucial clashes to follow if they progress.

The big issue for Honduras is their on-going fight against their own ill-discipline. They have collected five yellow cards and a single red in their opening two games. They aren’t complete non-footballers, they finished third in the CONCACAF final stage of qualifying highlighted by a 2-1 victory over the United States. Hopefully they bring the attitude from the Ecuador game instead of the France game to make for an entertaining contest.

The game breaker

Palacios – the Stoke City man returning after an enforced sabbatical will look to finish the World Cup on a high. He isn’t just a hard tackling foul merchant. If he can stay within the rules, now would be a good time to show off the skills that made him a regular starter in the Premier League.

Once again – as in my France v Switzerland preview – the Swiss will need goals for their progression. Another goalless draw may put them through but it won’t excite the public. The responsibility will fall on the young shoulders of Haris Seferovic, 22, who scored the match-winner against Ecuador. If he has the shooting boots primed and ready, Switzerland should secure a safe passage into the Round of 16.

Prediction: Switzerland 2 – 0 Honduras

Switzerland should have enough to see off a rough Honduras side with hopefully no injuries to report.