The final set of FIFA World Cup 2014 group games is upon us—where on earth did the time go?
Here, we analyse Honduras vs. Switzerland, a game in which only the latter are playing for something, but the former won't relent all the same.
With two losses on the bounce, Honduras are out of the World Cup, but if their pre-tournament friendly against England is anything to go by, they don't need it to be competitive to play at 100 percent ferocity.
Wilson Palacios is expected to return to the XI, and Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengtson will resume up front. The pair have mustered just a goal between them, but they're mobile enough to create chances against a creaking Switzerland defensive line.
The 4-4-2 Luis Fernando Suarez plays is direct and physical, so how Ottmar Hitzfield prepares for that in midfield will be paramount to his side's success.
The Hondurans will play with the freedom of a side who are already out of the running, and that's dangerous.
Switzerland are not in the position they thought they'd be in: third in Group E behind Ecuador after two games, fresh off a real drubbing from France.
The striking situation has been impossible to crack for Hitzfeld, and which direction he goes—Haris Seferovic or Josip Drmic—is tough to call ahead of the match.
Valon Behrami played horrendously against France and could be dropped for Blerim Dzemaili—especially since the stand-in scored a cracking 40-yard free-kick against Les Bleus last week.
With no real idea of how of how strong France's XI is set to be, Gokhan Inler and Co. have to go all-out to win, repairing their goal difference in the process.
2 Tactical Clashes
1. Use the Width
Switzerland's two full-backs, Ricardo Rodriguez and Stephan Lichtsteiner, will bomb forward from the offset and look to impact in the final third.
France knew that and changed their XI for their meeting last week, shifting Karim Benzema to the left wing to take advantage of the space left behind by Lichtsteiner.
That, in accompaniment with Behrami's shocking performance, allowed the French to play one ball out to their striker and let him run, manipulating the space.
Honduras, we fear, will not take advantage. In their flatter, deep-set 4-4-2, the wide midfielders won't be high enough to burst into the space. If they want a result, they'll need to change the approach.
2. Playing into Their Hands
Switzerland struggle in the final third when Lichtsteiner and Rodriguez don't get forward, and teams have proven during this World Cup that defending high against them is more effective than defending deep.
Honduras will do exactly that: defend deep. It will allow the Swiss to move the ball laboriously through the thirds and get their full-backs on the ball near the byline. They'll fire in crosses, create confusion and the strikers will come to life.
Granit Xhaka and Drmic are not refined technicians capable of picking a lock, but give them 50/50s in the box and a yard of space and they'll convert.
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.