World Cup 2014: Team news and a look ahead to Switzerland v Ecuador
Last Updated: 15/06/14 10:36am
Switzerland will hope their good form in qualifying continues when they face Ecuador in Brasilia on Sunday.
The opening match in Group E, this could be an intriguing battle in the futuristic surroundings of Brasilia, the host nation’s capital city.
The European side eased to their third World Cup finals in a row with an unbeaten qualifying campaign, winning seven and drawing three.
Their opponents’ passage through was less smooth, La Tri finishing fourth to edge out Uruguay for the final automatic qualification spot. Playing on their own continent may give Ecuador the edge, but the majority of their points when qualifying were earned when playing at altitude in Quito.
Neither side is bursting with star names, but in each case a solid collective is enhanced by some good individual talent.
- This will be the first ever international meeting between Switzerland and Ecuador.
- Switzerland have only conceded one goal in their last seven World Cup games combined.
- Ecuador have never drawn a game at a World Cup, winning three and losing four so far.
- Despite finishing fourth, Ecuador had more shots than any other team in South American qualification (201).
Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri may have been a bit-part player for Bayern Munich last season, but the 22-year-old will be expected to be at the heart of his country’s attacks against Ecuador and beyond.
Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia captains his country, and while he had a mixed time during his club’s disastrous Premier League title defence he will provide one of Ecuador’s main threats from the wing – rather than right-back, where he found himself at times last season.
Ecuador will be without defensive midfielder Segundo Castillo, who was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury, but Valencia is available following his one-match ban for his red card against England.
The match could also see former Manchester City team-mates Gelson Fernandes and Felipe Caicedo face each other.
Fernandes grabbed the winner when the Swiss beat Spain in their meeting early on in South Africa four years ago, while Caicedo’s seven goals in qualifying were crucial for Ecuador. The burly 25-year-old became his country’s main striker following the tragic death of former Birmingham City forward Christian Benitez in July 2013.
Switzerland are unbeaten since a friendly defeat to South Korea last November, while Ecuador lost two of their three recent warm-ups, but shored things up with a 2-2 draw against England in Miami.
Paul Merson’s prediction
Switzerland beat Brazil last summer – and it’s worth noting that they're in the world top 10, plus Basel have done well in Europe recently.
I watched Ecuador against England the other night and I didn’t think they were that good if I’m being honest; they were a bit wide open. They do have a go, though, and that’s why I’m guessing there will be goals.
Paul predicts: 2-1