First Team To Advance: France
Second Team To Advance: Switzerland
Teams Heading Home: Ecuador, Honduras
Many people are disregarding this group as a boring group with fairly poor talent, but I’m actually really excited for it. Though Honduras isn’t likely to make any noise and France seems to have a bit of a free pass into the second round, I think the race for second is absolutely fantastic. Switzerland have a team full of young and exciting players, while Ecuador have the one and only Antonio Valencia (and a number of other Valencia’s too). The Swiss are a remarkably rounded team, with a back line commanded by Fabian Schar, a solid midfield under the eye of Gokhan Inler, and a pacey group of forwards lead by Xherdan Shaqiri. Meanwhile, Ecuador are pretty much as far from balanced as you can be, as they have a poor group of strikers and defenders but their midfield performs quite admirably. The shining star of Ecuador’s midfield has to be Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia, who plays like a stale loaf of bread for Manchester United, while he looks like Pele when playing for Ecuador, easily gliding past players on the wing and sending in beautiful crosses, which are usually put woefully into the stands by Ecuador’s strikers. In the end, I expect Switzerland to win over Ecuador, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the games will be exciting. My prediction for the leading goal scorer is France’s Antoine Griezmann, who wasn’t even set to start for France until Franc Ribery injured himself, while I predict Gokhan Inler will lead the group in assists.