Even though clubs can't officially be eliminated from the 2014 World Cup this early in the proceedings, there are still losses that can set them back enough that there's no hope for recovery.
For instance, defending World Cup champion Spain still has two matches left in Group B, but losing 5-1 against Netherlands in the opening match put the club behind the curve with a lot of work to do.
As we approach Day 4 of this year's World Cup, the one thing that can be said for certain is trying to put logic to anything is going to leave you pulling your hair out. We're going to give it our best shot with predictions and a full schedule for all of Sunday's action.
|Group||Match||Start Time (ET)||Network|
|Group E||Switzerland vs. Ecuador||12 p.m.||ABC|
|Group E||France vs. Honduras||3 p.m.||ABC|
|Group F||Argentina vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina||6 p.m.||ESPN|
2014 World Cup Day 4 Predictions
Switzerland vs. Ecuador
If you look at the betting line for this match, OddsShark.com lists Switzerland as a slight favorite over Ecuador. This should end up as the closest contest of Day 4 with no real separation between the two squads.
The one advantage on either side, as ITV.com noted in a preview piece, is Switzerland's stout defense and Ecuador's inability to strike quickly:
A well-drilled backline was the most impressive on the road to Brazil, keeping clean sheets in 70 per cent of their matches - more than any other team to make the tournament. Unfortunately for those who drew Ecuador in the sweepstakes, the bad news keeps coming: they scored goals at the second-lowest rate of the 32 finalists, at just 1.25 - this is unlikely to be their day.
Switzerland doesn't exactly light up the stat sheets with a flurry of offense, but it does boast a solid scoring left back in Ricardo Rodriguez. The 21-year-old had five goals and nine assists for VfL Wolfsburg during the 2012-13 Bundesliga season.
In a battle between two clubs that don't put the ball in the net very much, Switzerland is immensely talented and ready to make a run. It will need to prove that youth isn't a problem, but the raw ability is there.
Prediction: Switzerland 2, Ecuador 0
France vs. Honduras
Even though this is the most lopsided match of the day, it will still be fun to watch because France boasts so much offensive firepower to exploit Honduras.
French manager Didier Deschamps has left his mark on this squad already by leaving Franck Ribery off the roster, but he's certainly not without star power. The midfield trio of Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi is going to cause all sorts of problems in this World Cup.
Phil Thomas of The Sun (subscription required) is starting the lovefest for Pogba before the World Cup, listing him as one of 14 players who are poised to become mainstream superstars in this event, which is scary considering how insanely good the 21-year-old already looks:
He was a star in the United youth set-up and Ferguson promoted him to the senior squad in 2011-12. But he managed only seven substitute appearances in his Old Trafford career — and when Juventus came calling early in 2012, he jumped at the chance.
It was a very different story in Turin, as Juve threw him straight into the first team.
He forced his way into the French squad within a couple of months and goes to Brazil with 10 caps, having won back-to-back Serie A titles.
Even though France will need a lot of things to go right in Brazil to win the whole thing, Honduras doesn't present much of a problem because it's not a squad that is capable of keeping up with speed and scorers.
Prediction: France 3, Honduras 1
Argentina vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina
This is going to be the match of the day. Argentina is a favorite to win the World Cup, boasts the best player in the world (Lionel Messi) and plays a very fun, uptempo style that's pleasing to the viewing eye.
Brilliant as Messi is and will be in this event, Adrian Melville of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) makes a compelling case for Angel di Maria as Argentina's key to victory:
Di Maria led all players in Europe's top five leagues with 17 assists for Real Madrid in the 2013-14 season. In addition to being able to operate from both sides of the field for both club and country, Di Maria has also shown that he can create his own scoring chances a little more frequently when playing with Argentina.
Which squad has the best chance to pull off an upset?
On the other side, Bosnia and Herzegovina is going to try to match Argentina's uptempo offensive style. This squad was on fire during qualifying, scoring 30 goals in the first round of qualifying and trailing only Germany, Netherlands and Belgium in points.
Edin Dzeko has the talent and distance on his shot to create scoring opportunities from anywhere in the opponent's territory. He's got to be at the top of his game to give Bosnia and Herzegovina a shot to win.
Ultimately, Bosnia and Herzegovina's lack of attention on the defensive side will cost it in this matchup with a more potent offensive club. It's going to be thrilling to watch.
Prediction: Argentina 4, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2
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