World Cup Preview: Group E

Ian Walton

Will France run away with this division, or will Switzerland live up to their lofty ranking?

We are up to Group E now, or as I like to call it, the "France better not blow this one" group.  Let's take a look:

GROUP E

SWITZERLAND

FIFA Ranking:  6th (Really?)

World Cup Titles:  0

Possibility of advancing to the knockout rounds:  84.3%

Trivia: Despite liberal gun laws, Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates of all industrialized countries.  See, Americans?  We DON'T have to shoot each other!

Sad Fact: Switzerland were eliminated from the 2006 World Cup WITHOUT EVER GIVING UP A GOAL!  They lost in penalty kicks to Ukraine in the round of 16.

Short Team Preview: Are we sure that they are the 6th best team in the world?  I don't think so.  Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg) is a stud and they have some solid defensive play from players like Philippe Senderos, is this team REALLY better than, say, England?  They will need to prove it.

Player to Watch: Xherdan Shaqiri.  The Bayern Munich midfielder has 9 goals in 33 caps for the Swiss.

Other Player to Watch: Mario Gavranovic.  Four goals in 11 caps for the young 24-year-old striker who plays professionally for Zurich.

Goofy Fact: If you ask for American cheese inside the Swiss border, you are sentenced to 2 years of jail time.* (*May not be true.)

American Team Equivalent: University of Oklahoma football.  The preseason/pre-tournament ranking is there, but why?

Conclusion: Benefits from a quite easy group.  Expect them to make it to the knockout rounds but be an easy out in the round of 16.

ECUADOR

FIFA Ranking:  26th

World Cup Titles:  0

Possibility of advancing to the knockout rounds:  31.3%

Trivia: At soccer games, it is common for the fans to roll up newspapers and light them on fire, then throw them at people.

Sad Fact: That the trivia tidbit above did not surprise me one bit.

Short Team Preview: Tough team playing on their own continent, Ecuador will be a tough opponent for everyone they fact, but they will ultimately fall short of the group stage.

Player to Watch: Antonio Valencia.  The captain and Manchester United midfielder is a talented player, but tends to get selfish.  He has 8 goals in 71 caps for the national team.  His hair looks soaking wet at all times.

Other Player to Watch: Felipe Caicedo.

Goofy Fact: 57% of American citizens think Ecuador borders Mexico.

American Team Equivalent: 1990's Utah Jazz.  Dirty and enjoy being dirty.

Conclusion: Well, at least they won't have to travel far after being knocked out of the group stage.

FRANCE

FIFA Ranking:  17th

World Cup Titles:  1 (1998)

Possibility of advancing to the knockout rounds:  93.5%

Trivia: The Casablanca scene where the bar starts singing "La Marseillaise" is the greatest movie scene of all time.

Sad Fact: Do I make the obvious "French army surrendering to everyone" joke here?  Nah, I am better than that.  I will just go with "Parisians are real d*ckheads!" fact.

Short Team Preview:  You just never know what will happen with them.  Will they make a run like 2006 to the Final?  Will they collapse and almost have a mutiny like in 2010?  Love them or hate them, they are interesting to watch.

Player to Watch: Olivier Gir....HA!  Just joking.  Giroud couldn't score even with my grandmother in net.  Karim Benzema is a danger to strike at any time.  He has 21 goals in 66 caps for Les Bleus.

Other Player to Watch: Yohan Cabaye.  Hey, look!  It's one of those guys that PSG just happened to have a crap load of money to pay for!

Goofy Fact: Let's leave this one up to Bonnie Swanson from Family Guy:

"Have you ever noticed that there are not a lot of black people in France, but the ones       that are black are REALLY black?"

American Team Equivalent: Tony Romo's Dallas Cowboys.  They might not always win, but you know something interesting is going to happen.

Conclusion: Who the heck knows?  They SHOULD get out of their group easily, but this is the French we are talking about.  Hugo Lloris could sleep with the other two goalkeepers' wives before the team even sees the pitch.  God, I hope that happens.

HONDURAS

FIFA Ranking:  33rd

World Cup Titles:  0

Possibility of advancing to the knockout rounds:  9.5%

Trivia: Once started a war against El Salvador over a soccer match.

Sad Fact: ONCE STARTED A FRIGGING WAR AGAINST EL SALVADOR OVER A SOCCER MATCH!!!

Short Team Preview: Los Catrachos are a benefactor from the CONCACAF portion of qualifying is so weak.  Do we expect them to even win a match?  I would REALLY love to see them start a war against France after their match.

Player to Watch: Maynor Figueroa.  A quality defenseman that has proven his talent in the EPL at Hull City.

Other Player to Watch: Carlo Costly.  Maniac on the pitch.  31 goals in 70 caps.  Only 31 years of age.

Goofy Fact: Their fans love the idea of throwing batteries, bags of feces and whatever else they can get their hands on at opponents.  Oh, and apparently hates El Salvador.

American Team Equivalent: Cleveland Indians during the infamous "10 Cent Beer Night" game.

Conclusion: I would have my eye on them and their militia if I were in charge of the other three countries in this group.  Don't worry, though.  They won't make it out of the group.

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