MASTER GUIDE: Everything You Need To Know About World Cup Group E

Ewan Watt Freelance Writer
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Here it is, soccer fans. The Daily Caller’s Ultimate Master Guide To Everything You Ever Need To Know About The 2014 FIFA World Cup In Brazil.

Brace yourself for over a month’s worth of whining from the MLB/NFL/NBA purist who doesn’t understand the offside rule and insists the game “still sucks.” Prepare for some thoroughly embarrassing “expert” opinions from that guy in the bar who thinks the game was invented in 1992. And yes, there will more than likely be some tedious BuzzFeed listicles about the best player simulations, eccentric jerseys and players that look like cats. 

All that aside, there should be some great entertainment on the field.  

For the entirety of the tournament, Ewan Watt will be providing grizzled, foul-tempered Scottish punditry for The Daily Caller on everything you need to know about the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This will range from a comprehensive background on each team, short posts on the games, and some history, ranging from failed drug tests to a team’s struggle to understand the rules to why an Arab prince halted the game and got a referee’s decision overturned.

In the build up, we’ll be releasing guides to the different groups, so buckle in, study up and become the master you’ve always said you were anyway.

Click Here For Everything You Need To Know About Group A

Click Here For Everything You Need To Know About Group B

Click Here For Everything You Need To Know About Group C

Click Here For Everything You Need To Know About Group D

Click Here For Everything You Need To Know About Group G

Click Here For Everything You Need To Know About Group H


Overview: Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has enjoyed an illustrious career in club management. He joined Ernst Happel in becoming the second coach to win a European Cup with two different teams (three others have done it since), and is hoping for an impressive send-off before he retires after Brazil. With more quality at his disposal, especial in defense, the Swiss can look forward to, at the very least, an improvement from 2010.

Despite defeating eventual champions Spain four years ago in their opening match, Switzerland ultimately fell flat and was knocked out at the group stages in South Africa. This time around, Hitzfeld will be looking to avoid the same kind of complacency, particularly given the presence of Bayern’s Xherdan Shaqiri. Having qualified for Brazil undefeated, the Swiss have good reason to be optimistic in Brazil, even if their lack of scoring prowess continues to be a concern.

Given how goal-shy they can be, a lot of Switzerland’s progress at Brazil will depend on whether players like Haris Seferovic of Real Sociedad can step up on the world stage. Although he is just 22, the highly regarded Seferovic has perhaps fallen short of expectations for La Nati, although it’s hard to see where else the Swiss will find goals. Bottom line: The longer Hitzfeld’s  retirement is delayed, the longer Switzerland is in the World Cup.

Best World Cup Performance: Quarter-final (1954)

FIFA Ranking: 6th

Best Players: Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich), Valon Behrami (Napoli), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Philippe Senderos (Valencia), Fabian Schär (FC Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus) and Haris Seferovic (Real Sociedad).

Most famous World Cup moment: Some might point to Switzerland’s shock defeat of Spain in their opening match of the 2010 World Cup, especially given that their opponents went on to win the tournament. But unlike the 1994 campaign, the joy was short lived. After a 28-year hiatus from the tournament, the Swiss returned to the World Cup under England’s current coach, Roy Hodgson.

Their opener against the hosts is widely remembered for this stunning free kick from specialist Georges Bregy. A tie against the United States was followed by a routing of Gheorge Hagi’s Romania (who reached the semi-finals), which included a fantastic piece of play by Ciriaco Sforza to set up Adrian Knup for Switzerland’s third goal.

… Most infamous: As World Cup hosts in 1954, the Swiss faced-off against neighbors Austria knowing that victory would take them through to the semi-finals. After just 19 minutes, the Swiss were three goals ahead and cruising, only to find themselves 4-3 down before half-time. In the sweltering heat, the game would finish 7-5 to Austria and become the highest scoring game ever played at a World Cup. The Swiss would also earn the ignominious honor of being the first team to surrender a three-goal lead at the tournament.

Sound like an expert: “Their performance four years ago ended in great disappointment after such a positive start. As he looks set to call it quits, will Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side be able to make amends?”


Overview: On paper, Ecuador look like a fairly impressive team. They did well in qualifying, even finishing above Copa America champions and World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay. Much of this was down to their near perfect results at home.

Granted, Ecuador plays against some of the greatest sides in the world in qualifying, but it helps to play games in Quito — which is 9,350 feet above sea level. Away from home, their performances in qualifying left a lot to be desired.

And yet Ecuador has still racked up some exciting showings on the road. A little over a year ago, they defeated Ronaldo and Co. in Guimaraes 3-2, further raising expectations and highlighting the questions around Paolo Bento’s side. A year later, a 4-3 victory over Australia and ties against the (albeit under-strength) Netherlands and England showed that Ecuador can more than compete with their fellow World Cup participants.

But getting through qualifying is still likely to be an uphill challenge for Ecuador, particularly when you consider how goal-shy they are. In qualifying, they scored just 20 goals. Bottom-side Paraguay netted 17. This problem is exacerbated following the tragic passing of former Birmingham City strike Christian Benítez, who was Ecuador’s third-leading goal scorer of all time. They still possess some quality, so not all is doom and gloom for Ecuador. But matching their 2006 performance seems a little too optimistic.

Best World Cup Performance: Second Round (2006)

FIFA Ranking: 26th

Best Players: Jefferson Montero (Monarcas Morelia), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona Sporting Club) and Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem).

Most famous World Cup moment: After a thoroughly disappointing World Cup campaign in 2002 (although they did earn the shock defeat of Croatia), Ecuador returned to the tournament in Germany hoping to make a much better impression. While most pundits expected Poland to join Germany in the knock-out stages of the 2006 World Cup, Ecuador put in two accomplished displays to defeat the Poles and Costa Rica 2-0 and 3-0 respectively, earning their place in the next stage. Agustín Delgado’s finish against Costa Rica, and Ecuador’s second, was the pick of the bunch.

… Most infamous: Perhaps not infamous per se, but most Ecuador fans will remember England’s Ashley Cole and his incredible block. A mistake by England defender John Terry provided Ecuador’s Carlos Tenorio with a chance on goal with the game scoreless. Just as Tenorio looked set to put his team on the way to the World Cup quarter-final, Cole appeared out of nowhere and made one of the best blocks of the tournament. With David Beckham putting England ahead on the stroke of the hour, Tenorio’s profligacy in front of goal would cost his side dearly and Ecuador’s dreams of progressing through were ended.

Sound like an expert: “It’s a massive ask to get through this group, but having impressed of late, Ecuador should certainly not be written off in Brazil.”France

Overview: Ever since they lost to Italy in the 2006 World Cup final, the French national team has been a perennial disappointment at the big tournaments. Finishing bottom of their groups in Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010, and scraping through unconvincingly to the knockout stages of Euro 2012, the French overcame a two-goal deficit against Ukraine to qualify for Brazil via the playoffs. It’s been ugly.

Some might say the French lack a talismanic leader on the field in the form of Marcel Desailly, Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps. If anything, the French side has become synonymous with indiscipline. With Deschamp at the helm, Les Bleus will be hoping his leadership role on the pitch will translate to the sidelines. But the jury is still out.

Despite a few impressive performances (including a 2-0 friendly victory of the Netherlands), the French are still far too inconsistent. Losing Bayern Munich winger Frank Ribéry to injury was also a huge blow.

After the team was knocked out of the 2002 World Cup as defending champions, some petitioned to send a rowboat to Korea so the squad could make its way home. The French public’s love-hate relationship with the team is likely to continue through Brazil. If they witness another qualifying-round disaster in Brazil, the people back home might ask Les Bleus to swim. With the players at their disposal – even without Ribéry – it shouldn’t come to that. But we’ve been here before.

Best World Cup Performance: Winners (1998)

FIFA Ranking: 17th

Best Players: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Karim Benzema, Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid), Yohan Cabaye (Paris Saint-Germain), Paul Pogba (Juventus) and Eliaquim Mangala (Porto).

Most famous World Cup moment: Zinedine Zidane, the greatest soccer player of his generation, scored twice in a 3-0 victory over tournament favorites Brazil in the 1998 final, giving the hosts their first – and only – World Cup. That was impressive.

But then the French decided to project his face onto the Arc de Triomphe, a memorial to those who fought and died in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. If the Arc was created to memorialize the great French victories of a Corsican in Europe, it briefly represented the triumph of a Kabyle from La Castellane over the world.

… Most infamous: Meme creators obviously had a great time when “Zizou” took offense to Marco Materazzi’s remark about the Frenchman’s sister. But France’s pathetic 2010 World Cup performance even outdoes Zidane’s infamous head butt. As every Irishman continues to recall, the French were lucky to be on the plane to South Africa at all thanks to “Hand of God Part Deux” from Thierry Henry.

Despite having made the final four years before, the French were unceremoniously dumped out in the group stages. In truth, given their shocking performances, as well as the disgraceful behavior of both their mutinous players and childish coach, they need not have bothered turning up at all. When the team touched down in Paris (fittingly in economy class), French president Nicolas Sarkozy summoned Henry to the Elysée Palace for an explanation. The government, led by the prime minister, also conducted an investigation. One could argue that the reputation of French international football has yet to recover.

Sound like an expert: “The great French teams have always had fantastic leaders on the field. I’m not sure this side does. Though, even after losing Ribéry, they should really be able to improve a great deal from four years ago.”


Overview: In what will be their third participation at a World Cup, Hondurans will be well aware that their country has yet to win a single game at the tournament — even though they have often put in some fairly impressive performances. In Brazil, given the extremely limited options in their squad, one expects to see an all too familiar outcome from Honduras.

With Luis F. Suarez as coach, Honduras might have some signs for optimism. Eight years ago, Suarez shocked most of the pundits when he took Ecuador through to the knockout round in Germany, defeating both Costa Rica and the much-more-fancied Poland in the group stages. (Interestingly, Reinaldo Rueda, who coached Honduras in 2010, will be coaching Ecuador in Brazil.)

Although Jerry Bengtson and Carlo Costly scored enough in qualifying, it’s questionable whether these two have the quality required to help Honduras overcome Switzerland, France and Ecuador. At the back, there are concerns as well. In qualifying, Honduras looked fairly suspect in defense as bottom side Jamaica conceded just one more goal than them. There’s certainly an opportunity to shock the critics, but it’s hard to see how Honduras can become more than a footnote in Brazil.

Best World Cup Performance: Group Stages (1982 and 2010)

FIFA Ranking: 33rd

Best Players: Wilson Palacios (Stoke City), Jerry Bengtson (New England Revolution), Carlo Costly (Real C.D. España), Maynor Figueroa (Hull City) and Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic).

Most famous World Cup moment: Facing hosts Spain in their first-ever World Cup match in 1982 should have been a daunting task for the Hondurans. Before the home crowd in Valencia, however, Honduras’ Héctor Zelaya picked the ball up in the eighth minute and played a neat one-two with Prudencio Norales before shrugging off Spain’s Joaquin Alonso to put the visitors ahead with a fine finish. The Spaniards would hit back through a second-half Roberto Lopez-Ufarte penalty, but the Hondurans had more than impressed in their World Cup debut.

… Most infamous: In their final group game against Yugoslavia in the 1982 World Cup, Honduras believed that with Spain expected to defeat Northern Ireland, all they would need to guarantee qualifying to the knock-out stages was a tie. In what was a fairly defensive affair against the Yugoslavs, Honduras was made to rue some missed opportunities, with Armanda Betancourt the guilty culprit.

But with the game dying out, a reckless lunge in the penalty area by Jaime Villegas gifted the Yugoslavs a penalty with seconds to go, which Vladimir Petrovic duly converted. Ecuador’s misery would be compounded after Gilberto Yearwood was red-carded for an off-the-ball altercation with Edhem Sljivo and probably advising the referee what he could do with his whistle. With Northern Ireland defeating Spain, the night would only get worse.

Sound like an expert: “Most will be expecting Honduras to finish bottom in this group. They might put in a few spirited performances, but it would be a risky wager to back them through to the second round.”