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World Cup 2014: Group E Preview

Xherdan Shaqiri, Liverpool target and Swiss star
Xherdan Shaqiri, Liverpool target and Swiss star
Dennis Grombkowski

Teams: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

Liverpool Players: Mamadou Sakho

Group E features an established powerhouse in France and three teams that aren't well known to the casual fan, making this one of the least talked about groups. In some ways the lack of buzz is understandable because there's not as many big names here as there is elsewhere, but with Switzerland's squad on the rise, this group could prove more interesting than it looks.

France will progress easily...right?

Yeah, I think so. It's hard to see a repeat of the 2010 disaster because they look so much better than Ecuador and Honduras on paper. (Dan)

As much as I dislike France, I can't see them not getting through. The main instigators in South Africa aren't in this squad, and they look an even better team because of it. (JAceKopite16)

France are one of those weird teams that either show up big or don't show up at all. They either make a deep run or they crash and burn in the group or Round of 16 most of the time. While I think they should have no problem getting out of this group. I'm pretty skeptical they'll go much further. (blunatic)

Franck Ribery will miss the World Cup with a back injury. Does this news derail any hope the French had of winning the tournament?

While I think they'll get out of the group without Ribery, his absence is going to hurt when they're tasked with more formidable opponents later on. He's world class and while France have other viable attacking options, there's no replacing their superstar. One silver lining for the French is that the injury gives Antoine Griezmann a chance to shine. Griezmann has been on Liverpool's radar for awhile and he's coming off a spectacular season with Real Sociedad in La Liga. But to answer the question, I didn't have France winning the World Cup before Ribery's injury and I certainly don't now. (Dan)

They have a good enough squad to reach a possible semi, with talent literally everywhere, even without Ribery. Lloris in goal, Mama Sakho, Koscielny, Rafa Verane, Sagna, Paul Pogba, Morgan Schneiderlin, Benzema, Giroud and Remy up front. The thing is that they can't put it together and play as a team. So, like Dan said, I didn't expect them to get to the final anyway. (JAceKopite16)

They remind me a lot of England. No matter how good they should be, I just don't see them putting it together. The talent is there, but talent alone isn't enough to make you a winner. Even with Ribery I thought even the semi-finals were a long shot, and I definitely don't see them going any further than the quarterfinals without him. (blunatic)

Switzerland come in with loads of young talent, led by Xherdan Shaqiri. Are they on the brink of something special?

Yes. Switzerland do not have a forward older than 24, and their midfield is similarly young, yet they were already thrown into the fire four years ago so they come to Brazil with a surprising amount of experience. Shaqiri is Switzerland's undisputed starlet, but he's just one of many players with lots of potential. Switzerland are currently ranked ahead of France in FIFA's world rankings at #8, and while they may not make their huge run this time around, success is coming soon. (Dan)

I think, like Germany in 2010, it'll take time for them to get it fully together, but once they do, they'll be a force. Not this time though. (JAceKopite16)

I think they could be. What they lack in star power they make up for with their energy and team chemistry. This is one of those classic teams that are young and dumb enough to believe they can and should beat anyone, the type of team that you see punch way above their weight even if everyone else writes them off. A strong showing from this Swiss team would go a long way towards helping them become a group that can compete with the big dogs in international soccer for years to come. (blunatic)

Which player's performance will have the biggest influence on the outcome of this group?

Paul Pogba is at the heart of France's future, but he'll have to come up big here and now in the midfield if France are to lock up first place in the group.

I agree with Dan that Pogba's going to have to have a big tournament, especially with Ribery out. But he's done well at Juve since leaving Castle Greyskull so I think he's up for the challenge. (JAceKopite16)

Xherdan Shaqiri is the guy I'm most excited to see in this group. He's easily the most well known player on the Swiss team, and for good reason. He's a very exciting winger that brings a lot to the table. I think the success of the Swiss team will depend a lot on his performance. (blunatic)

Which Group E matchup excites you the most?

France v. Switzerland in what should be a fight for first seed out of Group E. I wouldn't be surprised to see Switzerland beat France, but regardless it should be a really fun watch. (Dan)

Same as above. The other two teams in the group aren't expected to do much and so it'll be exciting what fireworks are produced here. (JAceKopite16)

Can't argue with you guys on this one. Ecuador and Honduras just don't really have much of a chance in this group. The winner of France v. Switzerland will almost certainly win this group, and it should be the best game. (blunatic)

Reveal your bias! Which team in this group are you pulling for?

Switzerland. They're young and underrated. (Dan)

The Swiss are always a team you can't hate. I'd like to see them punch a bit above their weight here. (JAceKopite16)

Definitely the Swiss. If the rumors are to be believed, we might have Shaqiri signed by the time this group gets underway, and if that does indeed happen you have to pull for a Liverpool player. (blunatic)