Switzerland take on Honduras as the curtain comes down on Group E in Manaus, with the Swiss needing a favour from France to progress.
Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side fell to a 5-2 defeat to the French on Friday but now needs its European counterpart to do it a big favour by beating Ecuador in Rio de Janeiro.
If it does, the Swiss will then need a draw or better against the group’s minnows, Honduras, to make the last 16 for just the fifth time in their history.
Venue: Arena da Amazonia, Manaus
Date: Wednesday 25 June
Time: 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET
TV Info: BBC Three (U.K.)/ESPN (U.S.)
‘Little’ Switzerland Needing Big Performance
Switzerland’s story in Brazil epitomises just how quickly ecstasy can turn to agony at the World Cup.
After their last-gasp 2-1 victory over Ecuador in Group E’s opener, the Swiss would have been dreaming big, but they were brought back to earth at the hands of France just five days later.
Honduras now stand in their way of a place in the last 16, and midfielder Blerim Dzemaili says that they can’t afford to rest on their laurels in Wednesday’s match— per the Agence France-Presse (via FIFA.com):
Everyone can nurture big dreams, but first we have to do a little homework and that is to beat Honduras. We have seen that the big teams just relying on individuals are quickly eliminated, which little Switzerland can’t afford. We have to give our all together, like we did against France, but we also had some bad luck after they scored their early goals.
While working hard on the opposition is always recommended, the Swiss must first address their leaky defence, which looked completely out of sorts against France.
As WhoScored.com revealed, Switzerland haven’t picked the ball out of their net five times in a World Cup in almost 50 years:
Switzerland: Last conceded 5 goals in a World Cup finals match in July 1966 (a 5-0 loss to West Germany) #sui— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 20, 2014
Though Honduras don’t exactly have the personnel to put five past Switzerland, Hitzfeld will be wary of the threat they have going forward and will be desperate to put things right in Manaus.
Honduras, meanwhile, are looking to cause a shock by recording their first-ever World Cup victory.
The Hondurans’ playing style has been, let’s say, interesting during the World Cup so far, with their aggression not winning too many fans of the beautiful game.
However, with that aggression comes a desire to get forward whenever they’re in possession, making for some entertaining fixtures—as The Telegraph’s Paul Hayward remarked upon during their loss to Ecuador:
When Honduras v Ecuador is this much fun you know the World Cup has won.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) June 20, 2014
Luis Fernando Suarez’s side will undoubtedly provide more end-to-end fun in its last group match, but it’ll likely come up short against the Swiss.
Add Switzerland’s superior personnel to the fact that Honduras also need more than just a win to advance, and nothing but a Swiss victory looks like coming in Manaus.
Key Stats and Prediction
Switzerland have scored two goals or more in five of their last six matches in World Cups, while Honduras have conceded at least two goals in their last three—per WhoScored.com.
Switzerland had lost just one of their last 19 games prior to their defeat against France, winning their last three on the spin.
Wednesday’s meeting is the second time that these sides have met in their respective histories.
Their first meeting came at World Cup 2010, where Honduras held Switzerland to a 0-0 draw to stop them from progressing through the group stage.
However, Switzerland are much better prepared to find a victory against Honduras this time around and should be able to ease to three points in Manaus.
Prediction: Honduras 1-3 Switzerland