With the FIFA World Cup 2014 firmly underway, we bring you the next in an in-depth series of match previews that centre on tactics, team selections and predicted XIs.
Sunday's opener is Switzerland vs. Ecuador, a game which pits Ottmar Hitzfeld's well-thought out, careful footballing philosophy against the mad habits of Reinaldo Rueda.
How Switzerland Will Shape Up
Switzerland will employ a standard 4-2-3-1 formation, move the ball out of defence with varying quickness and utilise Gokhan Inler as a deep-lying playmaker.
They pressed high during qualifying and won the ball back close to the opposing goal, but Hitzfeld has suggested his side may temper their dogged defending in the heat of Brazil.
They will feed Xherdan Shaqiri the ball to feet or look to hit Valentin Stocker in the channels with a quick release; Josip Drmic is a poacher, of sorts, and will hoover up any chances that fall his way.
They're well-organised defensively, but there's a question mark over one of the central defensive spots. Steve Von Bergen will partner either Fabian Schaer or Johan Djourou.
How Ecuador Will Shape Up
Ecuador proved throughout qualifying and during the World Cup warm-up fixtures that they only know one way of playing: 100 mph, direct and to the point.
They play the ball out to the wings early and ask Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero to carry it forward, sparking quick counters or long dribbles that allow them to bypass the central midfield zone.
They're poor in ball retention and prefer to avoid that area of the pitch altogether if possible.
Losing Christian Benitez was tragic, and they've struggled to recover in a goalscoring (and mental) sense since his passing. Felipe Caicedo will likely get the nod, but Enner Valencia is perhaps the biggest goal threat.
Three Tactical Clashes
1. Suitable Conditions
Both sides are going to press, with Ecuador's gung-ho approach on home continent soil likely to edge out Switzerland's fostered, high-energy, strategic closing down.
Hitzfeld will likely relent and cool his side off a little given the atmospheric conditions, and that may well play into their favour as Ecuador struggle to create clear-cut chances whilst on the ball in space.
If the Swiss allow them possession with no qualms, can Rueda's men actually fashion anything? They'll sit deep, stop the runners and test the waters.
2. Clamping Inler
If Ecuador flood forward and play the part of consistent aggressor, Switzerland have a dream scenario when matching up one versus one in the wide areas.
Stocker and Shaqiri will rip their respective counterparts to shreds with ease, and one ball from Inler is enough to set them off, fashioning goalscoring chances every five minutes.
Ecuador's 4-4-1-1 lends itself perfectly to committing a man to marking Inler, and they'd be wise to do so—else they'll get burnt.
3. Striking Quality?
Less a tactical factor and more an acceptance of skill, neither side has a truly reliable goalscorer to boast.
Ecuador, post-Benitez, have shared the goals around, and Switzerland's top scorer during qualifying was centre-back Schaer with four. Drmic has emerged late, so that record's not fair on him, but he'll need to pull up some serious trees to reverse the fortunes of his side.
It could be a 0-0 stinker.
Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.
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