Les Bleus are favourites to top Group EReuters

Group E of the 2014 World Cup consists of France, Ecuador, Honduras and Switzerland.

France is obviously the favourites to top the group, though they managed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup by the skin of their teeth.

The French were heavily criticised for their 2-0 first leg defeat to Ukraine in the play-offs. However, Les Bleus silenced their critics by making an excellent comeback in the second leg, winning 3-0, to book their place in the World Cup.

France, who had a disappointing time at the 2010 World Cup - getting eliminated in the group stages, have a much stronger side this time around, with many promising players like Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Yohan Cabaye (PSG), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) and Eliaquim Mangala (Porto).

However, Bayern Munich winger Frank Ribery's absence certainly remains a big blow for Les Bleus. Also, head coach Didier Deschamps, who was the captain when France emerged victorious in the 1998 World Cup, decided to not include in-form Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri in the 23-man squad.

Though the team lacks the likes Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry, the squad does have a promising bunch of players who are capable of performing at the highest level.

Switzerland is hoping to impress at the 2014 World CupReuters

Switzerland also has a chance of making it to the round of 16, considering the great improvement in the team of late.

The Swiss were unable to make it out of the group stages in 2010, and were widely criticised for employing defensive tactics in South Africa. However, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld seems to have completely changed his tactics this year as the team are now playing attractive football, involving neat passing and pressing.

The strength of Switzerland is their link-up play (like Arsenal) to unlock the opposition defence. Bayern's Xherdan Shaqiri and Juventus' Stephan Lichtsteiner combine well on the right side, regularly drifting away from their original positions.

Lichtsteiner and VfL Wolfsburg's Ricardo Rodriguez, who have both provided more assists than any other defender in their respective leagues last season, sum up the team's energy level and tempo.

However, the Swiss do lack quality in the central defence area, and get exposed during counter-attacks. Also, they do not have any big names to lead their attack, with Bayer Leverkusen's Josip Drmic being the only star forward.

Still, Switzerland will be hoping to impress as they look to better their record in the World Cup.

Ecuador will be relying on their wing playReuters

Ecuador, on the other hand, are a completely different side who rely mostly on wing play. While United's Antonio Valencia (the captain) provides speed and power on the right flank, Monarcas Morelia's Jefferson Montero dribbles well and makes daring runs at the opposition defence from the left.

The full-backs also join the attack as supporting wingers, and this has proved very effective for Ecuador.

Though their style of play is very effective on the counter, Ecuador's defence is exposed when they lose the ball - as we witnessed during their friendly game against England last week. After taking an early lead through Enner Valencia, Ecuador conceded two quick goals, before finally nicking the equaliser through Michael Arroyo.

Ecuador's road to Brazil was certainly not an easy one. They started off brightly, sitting second after the first 10 games. However, things began to go downhill after they failed to register wins in most of their remaining games. Finally, they managed to finish above Uruguay on goal difference.

Ecuador, who did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup, will be looking to surprise their opponents and book a place in the round of 16.

Honduras is looking to take Group E by supriseReuters

Honduras will be hoping to impress in their second successive World Cup, after managing only a draw in 2010.

Despite their defeats against Spain and Chile in South Africa, Honduras was pretty impressive at the back, conceding only three goals.

Though they are the underdogs of Group E, Honduras is known to spring the occasional surprise. They managed the beat the likes of USA, Mexico and Costa Rica, and finish third in the CONCACAF qualifiers.

Honduras employ a very physical style of play as it was evident from their recent goalless draw against England. The team, however, lacks creativity in midfield and mostly rely on set pieces and counter attacks for goals.

Key Players

France: Real striker Benzema is definitely the key player for France, having netted 24 goals in all competitions for Los Blancos last season. Though the 26-year-old was briefly dropped from Les Bleus squad due to a 15-game goal drought last autumn, he soon regained his scoring touch, and has now netted six times in his last six international appearances.

Switzerland: Bayern's Shaqiri is the star in the Swiss squad. Though the 22-year-old is still not a regular starter at Bayern, he is Switzerland's most important player, providing the creativity. Capable of playing on the right as well as in the centre, Shaqiri is a danger to most defenders.

Ecuador: Despite many believing United's Valencia is Ecuador's key player, Montero is the one who can boost his country's chances of reaching the last 16. Coach Reinaldo Rueda has also admitted that Montero, who is reportedly moving to a European club this summer, has become very consistent of late and is crucial.

Honduras: New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengtsonis is probably Honduras' most influential player, having scored nine goals for his country during the qualifiers. Though the 27-year-old has not been that impressive for his club, he has managed to find the net for his country on a regular basis.


15 June 2014: Switzerland v Ecuador, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia

15 June 2014:France v Honduras, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre

20 June 2014:Switzerland v France, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador

20 June 2014:Honduras v Ecuador, Arena da Baixada, Curitiba

25 June 2014:Honduras v Switzerland, Arena Amazonia, Manaus

25 June 2014:Ecuador v France, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro

Predictions: France to top the group and Switzerland second, followed by Ecuador and Honduras.