Group E: Fruit, cheese and dashing Frenchmen
Switzerland vs Ecuador
Swiss precision sees off gutsy Ecuador
There was a considerable amount of attention on Switzerland as they began their World Cup adventure against Ecuador thanks to their infamous opening match upset of the Spanish paella plates in South Africa four years ago. Expectations were higher this time around given their lofty world ranking of sixth, along with the influx of a generation of players playing amongst Europe’s leading lights.
I always considered the Swiss a bland and boring side but fellas like Xherdan Shaqiri, Gokhan Inler and Stephan Lichtsteiner are proving that the Swiss are more than just banking, timepieces and cheese.
Ecuador, however, is the world’s leading exporters of bananas and perhaps carb-loading on the fruit played a major part in a strong Ecuadorean display in the first half proceedings in Brasilia.
Swiss attempts to maintain possession in the Ecuadorean half were thwarted by tenacious closing down of space and for all of Shaqiri’s sprite and might, the Swiss couldn't keep possession and the ball was quickly whizzed back in their half onto the Ecuadorean counter attackers. Jefferson Montero’s lively runs and testing of Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio proved that Ecuador were more than just Antonio Valencia. Another Valencia, Enner, exposed Benaglio’s lack of goalkeeping presence in the 6 yard box by heading home from a metre out from the goal line. A shock lead for Ecuador but it is football’s way of biting the Swiss in their behinds for not treasuring their Brazuca.
The Ecuadoreans had a taste of that vile medicine when they allowed a similar lack of concentration to hand Admir Mehmedi a dream debut in Swiss colours. The real Switzerland then turned up after the equalizer with more effective possession although a goal never looked on the cards. And just when it appeared as if the fondue was about to dry up, Valon Behrami displayed fabulous tenacity to win the ball and sparked a counter attack that resulted in a training ground finish by Haris Seferovic. The competition's official luxury timekeeper clocked the winning goal at 23-seconds of injury time remaining - precision Swiss timing indeed.
Dmitri Albert, Swiss national -
"I was confident in a Swiss comeback as it was an early goal. My only worry was Switzerland melting like chocolate in the heat of Brasilia compared to Ecuador!"
France vs Honduras
Not a real test of the French Revolution.
The French found Honduras the perfect opponents to give Antoine Griezemann his debut and he didn’t disappoint. The Real Sociedad attacking midfielder slotted in for the crocked Franck Ribery and proved an effective and better looking replacement. Speaking of Ribery, how can this tough and gruff scarred face musketeer be afraid of injections? I digress... Realistically, Honduras is not much of a benchmark and when Wilson Palacios committed the double whammy of getting sent off and conceding a penalty, it ultimately sealed Honduran fates as Karim Benzema bullied his way to a brace. The bizarre nature of the second French goal called into question the integrity of the GoalControl goal line tech system. It was finally sorted when further investigations showed the Honduran 'keeper had a 'hand' in the goal. If we can't trust men and machine, what next?
The real litmus test of French credentials will be against the Swiss. Will they explode or implode?
Jason Jayden Chua loves Spanish football, writes Spanish football, eats Spanish food, is learning Spanish, but is in love with a French girl.