The start to the 2014 World Cup has been pretty decent, hasn’t it? It’s been a while since the watching world were treated to a classic tournament, but this one—without wanting to get too ahead of schedule—could be the best we’ve had for many a year.
The tournament is in full swing now after three days of pulsating action, and on the brink of Day 4, some more thrilling football looks inevitable.
The foursome of teams making up Group E will get their campaigns underway, while we’ll also be able to run the rule over a side that look ready to mount a major challenge for the title.
To ensure you’re fully covered for the games ahead, here’s a preview and prediction for of the upcoming clashes, plus all the information you need on where to catch the Day 4 fixtures via an online stream.
|Match||Date||Time||Live Stream Info|
|Switzerland vs. Ecuador||15. Jun||5 p.m. BST, 12 p.m. ET||ITV Player (UK), Watch ABC (US)|
|France vs. Honduras||15. Jun||8 p.m. BST, 3 p.m. ET||BBC iPlayer (UK), Watch ABC (US)|
|Argentina vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina||15. Jun||11 p.m. BST, 6 p.m. ET||BBC iPlayer (UK), WatchESPN (US)|
BBC, ITV, ESPN, ABC
Switzerland vs. Ecuador
Eyebrows were raised in unison when the Swiss were named as one of the top seeds for this tournament. Admittedly, they aren’t one of the most illustrious names in world football, and a quick glance at their squad doesn’t reveal any astonishingly bright talents.
But if you delve a little deeper into their recent exploits, it’s no surprise that this team have been named amongst the top bracket.
Their experienced manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld, can call upon an extremely capable team rife with energetic, vibrant and diligent young players.
In many respects, they’re like a less fashionable Belgium.
They will face Ecuador in their Group E opener, and La Tri are a side based upon comparable principles to those of the Swiss. They too are pretty cohesive, but they struggle away from home and lack a player with genuine ingenuity in the final third.
The Swiss have more of a creative spark, and in the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Valentin Stocker and Josip Drmic, players who can prize open this stringent Ecuador team.
That should see Hitzfeld’s men to a narrow win to get their World Cup up and running.
Prediction: Switzerland 2-1 Ecuador
France vs. Honduras
It’s dangerous to make a reasoned prediction when it comes to France. In 2002, they were expected to be brilliant but went out without scoring a goal. In 2006, little was expected but they made it to the final.
And in 2010? Well, the less said the better, really.
This time around, the French faithful will be quietly optimistic about their chances in the World Cup. They’ve drawn a group they should emerge from and Didier Deschamps has a plethora of exciting players at his disposal.
If they click, they can be a real force.
So, in many respects, a first game against Honduras—arguably the weakest team in the competition—might be ideal for Les Bleus. If they can accrue some early momentum, this squad could unite and flourish. However, with the French World Cup squads, it’s always an enormous if.
Honduras are a robust and physically competent team—perhaps a little too physical on occasion, as noted here by commentator John Bradley:
The kit men of France, Ecuador and Switzerland will be ordering extra shin pads in the morning for when they face Honduras in the World Cup— John Bradley (@JBcommentator) June 7, 2014
With that said, they don’t have the guile to trouble the French defence or the studiousness at the back to keep out effervescent offensive talents like Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena.
Deschamps and his team will get off to a comfortable start.
Prediction: France 2-0 Honduras
Argentina vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Watching Argentina’s stunning triumvirate of attacking talent is one of the hotly anticipated facets of this World Cup. Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have absolutely everything as a front three, and if they fire as a trio, the Albiceleste are going to be extremely difficult to beat.
In midfield, too, they have plenty of pedigree.
Angel Di Maria flourished as a dynamic central midfielder for Real Madrid last season, and he’ll occupy a similar role for the national side. Underpinning all of those attacking riches will be Javier Mascherano, who’ll provide an unshakable defensive shield with his energetic forays.
Alejandro Sabella’s team will play their first game of the 2014 World Cup against Bosnia and Herzegovina, a team who are playing in their first World Cup ever.
Despite being major tournament novices, Safet Susic’s enterprising side look the likeliest of all the Group F sides to test Argentina. They have some fine players within their ranks, and the link-up play between Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko should make for engrossing viewing.
However, concerns linger over the back four, which has never really looked settled despite Bosnia and Herzegovina’s strong qualifying performance.
With an attack as skilled as Argentina’s, they’ll be punished because of that. Expect a great contest between two attacking teams, but ultimately the Albiceleste will run out as easy winners.
Prediction: Argentina 3-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina