Group E kicks off with World Ranked 6 team Switzerland facing Ecuador in Brasilia, the capital city of the host nation, in what promises to be a strong contest between two good sides. The Swiss must be hoping for a strong start to their World Cup campaign as they would aim to continue their amazing run of form after having an unbeaten qualifying campaign. Ecuador would be more acclimatized to Brazilian surroundings and with a fighting 2-2 draw against England in their biggest friendly after two defeats, must surely be a spirit lifter. Considering the form and performance of the teams, Switzerland enter the competition as a strong team, able to cause a few surprises and in turn they are the obvious favourites in this Group E match.
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Switzerland Team News: Key Players and Strategy
Switzerland don’t have any injury concerns as they would be looking forward to a good start with their best possible starting line-up. With some young and promising players in the squad, Switzerland have been playing some of the best football in Europe and despite not having the sizzling stars in their squad like the other top teams with comparable ranking or even below them, the Swiss sure know how to perform as a team.
Star goalkeeper Diego Benaglio of Wolfsburg is expected to start in goal, with the likes of Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabian Schar, Steve von Bergen and Stephan Lichtsteiner to form a well-oiled back four. Rodriguez is considered as one of the best young attacking full backs in the world and with some decent defending ability, he would be one of the important players for the Swiss team. Fabian Schar of Basel is one of Europe’s most sought after defenders as he is young, technically proficient and a mentally resilient centre back, who has performed extremely well for both club and country.
Zurich defender von Bergen has formed a well-functioning partnership with the Basel player and would most probably be a starter. Stephan Lichtsteiner, the hard working Juventus Right Back would add some experience as well as established quality to the back four.
Switzerland have some really great midfield talents who are behind the recent success of the nation. In Granit Xhaka and Gokhan Inler, they have two consistent performers in the central midfield and they are those players who bring with them, pure professionalism and passion coupled with a tag of being underrated footballers. Both Xhaka and Inler would need to provide great control and work rate in the heart of the midfield for the Swiss national team and with their recent performances, their chemistry and quality is undoubted.
Hertha Berlin’s wide midfielder Valentin Stocker would likely be in the starting line up along with star man Xherdan Shaqiri to partner him in the opposite wing. Freiburg’s talented 23 year old striker Admir Mehmedi will partner another highly rated young 21 year old striker Josip Drmic who has taken the Bundesliga by a storm with his 17 goals with his then club Nurnberg which got relegated; following which he joined Bayer Leverkusen this summer.
Ecuador Team News: Key Players and Strategy
Ecuador are a team bereft of many star players as Antonio Valencia is the only one playing top level European football with Manchester United and wears the armband for the Ecuadorians. They faced a tragedy when top scorer Christian Benitez died of cardiac arrest midway through their qualifying campaign. Valencia and co. have vowed to give their hundred per cent for the team for their departed team mate.
Ecuador depend a lot on their wingers for pace and trickery down the wings and key players would obviously be Skipper Valencia and his fellow opposite winger Montero. The team is hardworking, simple minded and hence direct attacking. Switzerland would have to deal with the pace especially down the wings as on their day, Ecuador may cause yet another upset in this World Cup after Costa Rica stunned Uruguay 3-1.
Ecuador prefer a 4-4-2 formation with crossing wingers and natural centre forwards and in an average squad, they do bring in humility and hard work that any natural underdogs would carry with them in the match. Falipe Caicedo and Enner Valencia are more or less sure of a starting position in the forward line-up for the Ecuador team. Major onus would be on the central midfielders to avoid getting dominated in the midfield with the likes of Xhaka and Inler in the opposition team. Noboa and Castillo, the two players most likely to play box-to-box roles in the team would have to be on their toes all the time, and would need to show great work rate if they seriously want to mount a challenge.
Author’s Predictions: Line-ups and Score-line
The author predicts 2-0 win for Switzerland against Ecuador tonight.
Switzerland: Diego Benaglio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabian Schar, Steve von Bergen, Stephan Lichtsteiner; Gokhan Inler, Granit Xhaka, Valentin Stocker, Admir Mehmedi, Xherdan Shaqiri, Josip Drmic.
Ecuador: Alexander Dominguez, Walter Ayovi, Jorge Guagua, Frickson Erazo, Juan Carlos Paredes, Jefferson Montero, Christian Noboa, Segundo Castillo, Antonio Valencia, Enner Valencia, Felipe Caicedo.