Group E: France answers critics
Scott Regehr makes his Group E picks
The last time we saw Les Bleus at a World Cup, they were a distracted lot. They only made the 2010 tournament after scoring on a Thierry Henry hand ball in qualifying. Then, in South Africa, the players mutinied against their taro card-consulting manager Raymond Domenech.
No surprise then that France went out in the first round.
Four years later, French karma looks vastly improved. France became the first team to ever come back from a two goal deficit in a World Cup qualification playoff when they beat Ukraine. Without one of the world's top wingers, the injured Frank Ribery, more of the burden will be placed on striker Karim Benzema. Two goals in the opener against Honduras, suggest Benzema is up to the task.
Shaqiri key to Swiss success
France's stiffest competition in Group E should be Switzerland.
The Swiss are one of the most diverse team's at the tournament. More than half of the players on the Swiss team have dual nationality. The best of them may be XherdanShaqiri, a supremely skilled midfielder who was born in Kosovo. Shaqiri was pulling the strings throughout his team's dramatic comeback win in the opener versus Ecuador.
It'll be an uphill battle for the other countries in Group E. Generally hills work well for Ecuador, who flourished playing qualifiers at high altitude in Quito. However, playing mostly away from their capital, "La Tri Color" have floundered of late. Just two wins in 14 matches before dropping their opener in Brazil.
Honduras have been just as unconvincing and a 3-nil loss in their heated encounter against France to start their World Cup suggest it will be a short tournament.
Regehr's pick: Expect France and Switzerland to prevail in Group E.