After being completely annihilated against France in their second group stage match, Switzerland have it all to do against Honduras in their final match of the round. There will be no better time than now to play the Central American side however, as Honduras sitting bottom of the group and just having scored the one goal, while allowing five. Despite the French blitz, Switzerland have scored two goals in each of their matches, and with Ecuador coming up against, you just have to think that the Swiss will stop South America going five-for-five in knockout stage qualification.
Honduras are not to be taken lightly however. They may be at the bottom of the table, but they still have everything to play for as they have not been officially knocked out of the tournament. A surprise showing from them in a shock high-scoring win against Switzerland could see them through. While the odds of such a happenstance are slim, could you really and truly rule it out given the nature of this tournament? Here is our preview and prediction.
Projected Starting XI’s
Switzerland (4-3-3): Benaglio; Rodriguez, Schar, Djourou, Lichtsteiner; Inler, Behrami; Xhaka; Stocker, Drmic, Shaqiri
Honduras (4-4-2): Valladares; Izaguierre, Figueroa, Bernardez, Beckeles; Espinoza, Claros, Garrido, Garcia; Bengtson, Costly
Key’s for Switzerland:
- They MUST be better at the back. To say that they were abysmal in the center of defense against France is putting it quite mildly. Djouou and Senderos were ruthlessly exposed almost at every turn, and not only must Switzerland improve there, but now is the time to finally give Fabian Schar a spot in the XI which he deserves. He is absolutely deadly in the air on both sides of the ball, and that trait alone makes him vital against Honduras.
- Creating high quality scoring chances for their strikers is an absolute must. Their midfielders have done a wonderful job pushing forward and getting involved, but their strikers have been lacking proper service consistently. Josip Drmic has not kick-started his tournament yet, but such is his quality that he could well have a break out match if he is given the chance to.
- They must avoid getting caught in a war of attrition. Honduras are very physical but also strong and are able to run, run and run some more. For all their quality that they do in fact have, Switzerland does struggle when it comes to fitness and the ability to deal with the conditions in Brazil on the whole – they must avoid that effecting them.
Key’s for Honduras:
- Exploit the poor nature of the Switzerland back-line in the air. Carlos Costly and Jerry Bengtson are big, strong target men that could have a field day in the air if Switzerland does not deal with them properly. The question that will be asked however, is if Honduras will be able to provide them quality service in dangerous areas to even take advantage of it.
- They will be excited and energized by still having a chance to progress, and while you always want to channel that in a positive manner, sometimes it does in fact get the better of you and causes silly changes to lead to bookings or being sent off. As long as they keep their cool, they can still tap into the physical side of their game.
- Costly v Djourou – Djourou was incredibly poor against France not only in his marking, but in his challenges in the air as well. Such is the power and aerial ability that costly has that if Djourou does not deal with him well enough, Switzerland could be in for a rough afternoon at the back.
- Shaqiri v Honduran defense – Shaqiri, as expected, has been the creative force behind Switzerland this tournament. Despite his diminutive stature, he is incredibly strong and quite physical, but that will not put Honduras off from trying to get the better of him in that regard. If he wins the physical battle and finds enough space to create, it’s curtains for Honduras.
There is no doubt that Honduras are likely to give a good account of themselves, but this is one of those matches where I think that quality on the ball will win the day. Switzerland will be looking to set the record straight for sure, so I see them taking the result they need to advance, knowing Ecuador have a tough match ahead against France. 2-1 Switzerland is my guess.