May 20, 1052 days ago

World Cup 2014 – Group E & F preview

World Cup 2014 – Group E & F preview

Groups E and F kick off on 15 June and are two of the more intriguing pools in the tournament. While each group boasts a clear favourite – in each case a former winner – predicting who might join Argentina and France in the knockout stages is much more difficult.

Keep reading for our betting preview of Groups E and F.

Switzerland struggling to justify World Cup seeding

Switzerland are the seeded team in Group E and romped through qualifying without losing a match. Managed by the experienced Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Swiss have a strong defence and boast some good young talent.

Scoring enough goals could be Switzerland’s problem. The oldest of their four strikers is 24 year old Mario Gavranovic and the top international scorer in the squad is Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta with 10, more than the four strikers combined.

Solid, organised and talented, the Swiss will be looking to justify their seeding with some good performances. Remember that they beat eventual champions Spain in 2010.

France have rather flown under the radar as far as this tournament is concerned, having only just qualified after overturning a 2-0 first leg defeat to Ukraine in their play-off. Coach Didier Deschamps is not a man to shirk a difficult decision – the omission of Samir Nasri from his squad caused ructions – although he has built a solid team that could do better than many expect.

With a hugely impressive midfield three of Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye and the world class attacking talents of Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema the French should be solid and organised.

Ecuador’s qualification for the tournament was built on an impressive home record in the CONMEBOL qualifiers. They beat Colombia, Uruguay and Chile en route to securing fourth place in South American qualifying and will be led by Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia.

The issue with Ecuador is that they didn’t win any of their eight away fixtures in qualifying. If you’re considering backing them to qualify from the group, remember that they are nowhere near the same side when playing outside their own country.

Honduras have yet to win a match at the World Cup finals although recent wins over Mexico and the USA show that they are no pushovers. They play an organised 4-4-2 although perhaps don’t have the quality to trouble the top sides.

Considering Ecuador’s away form and Honduras’ limited talent I’d be backing France and Switzerland to qualify at 6/5.

Three differing styles bidding to join Argentina in the last 16

Argentina are the second favourites for the tournament and boast arguably the strongest attacking line-up. Coach Alejandro Sabella prefers a 4-3-3 system that appears finally to have got the best out of Lionel Messi, flanked by two of Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero or Gonzalo Higuain.

Argentina were unbeaten in 18 months prior to losing their final qualifying match – a dead rubber against Uruguay – and are certainly ones to watch this summer. Whether their defence is strong enough to carry them all the way remains to be seen – their regular choice goalkeepers have not been first choices this season – although they should easily qualify from Group F.

Bosnia and Herzegovina are the only debutants at this summer’s World Cup and in a wide open group could mark their first appearance by reaching the knockout stages.

With just two regular strikers – Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibsevic played every qualifying game – Bosnia’s is a simple midfield diamond featuring Roma’s masterful Miralem Pjanic. With squad members playing in top leagues across Europe, Bosnia will expect to do better than simply make up the numbers.

Iran were a shambles when ex-Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz took over as boss in 2011. Three years later they have qualified for the World Cup and have risen to 37 in thr FIFA world rankings.

Expect Iran to be organised and defensive but aim to hit opponents on the counter-attack through the pace of Fulham’s Ashkan Dejagah.

The current African champions, Nigeria, arrive in Brazil with a mixture of home and foreign based players under coach Stephen Keshi – a cult figure in the country.

There is experience right through the side from 89 cap goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama through Joseph Yobo to Chelsea’s John-Obi Mikel. With Premiership stars Victor Moses and Peter Odemwingie to call on, Nigeria could well be the leading African nation at this summer’s tournament.

Back Argentina and Nigeria to qualify at 6/4.

World Cup Betting

 

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