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World Cup Group E Preview

Four years after disgracing themselves in an almost stereotypically French display Les Bleus return to the world cup with a favorable draw and a boatload of talent both young and old. Like group A this is a group where the winner can be written, though perhaps not in ink, but pencil the French in. Who will be joining them though.

Julian Finney

The Sides

Switzerland - 10 appearances, quarter finals (1934, 1938, 1954)

Ecuador - 3 appearances, round of 16 (2006)

France - 14 appearances, champions 1998

Honduras - 3 appearances, group stage

The French are the overwhelming favorites to win this group for one simple reason, they have a laughably huge advantage when it comes to talent. They have world class performers are every level of the team and are bears in the attack. Unfortunately the same exact sentiment could have been uttered before the 2010 world cup, a tournament that saw them self combust in the most French way imaginable. Patrice Evra led a training boycott, and their world fell apart as the crashed out of their group in last place behind Mexico, Uruguay and South Africa.

This French team is different, gone are talented if combustible offensive forces like Nikolas Anelka. This should be a more cohesive and effective side, even with Frank Ribery of Bayern Munich out with injury and Man City's Samir Nasri being left at home for being (essentially) Samir Nasri. What the French do have is arguably the best midfielder in the world, 21 year old Paul Pogba.

The easiest place to start with Pogba is simply the way he looks. In a sport that has become overrun with smallish and technically overwhelming wizards like Messi, Aguero, Xavi, Neymar and Iniesta Paul Pogba is a completely different proposition. Against midfielders of that size he looks like Godzilla rampaging across a city. That is if Godzilla had a silky first touch, ran like the wind and had a thunder clap for a shot. Pogba is so good at such a young age that the sky is the limit for him, and by extension France.

Barring complete and total collapse the French are going through, and the Swiss are the side most likely to join them. The Swiss the team one of the biggest soccer fans I know described as, and I quote "A shower of shit." That might have been true at one point, it was definitely true in 2010, can't be attached to this side. In Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka the Swiss have two of the best young players in this tournament. But youth and world cup success are usually mutually exclusive concepts, experience matters a great deal in the world cup. That is unless you get drawn into one of the easiest groups in the tournament, as the Swiss undoubtedly have. Luck aside they are a team that you want to have in a tournament, solid in defense and ruthlessly effective in the counter attack. They have a real chance to reach the quarter finals for the first time in 50 years.

As for Honduras and Ecuador, well at least they made it to the World Cup. If you were to rank the 32 teams that made it to Brazil 1 through 32 both the Hondurans and the Ecuadorian's would be at or near the bottom along with Iran, Australia, Cameroon etc.  They have very little chance to get out of this group.