Group F: Switzerland vs. Ecuador
- June 15, 12 p.m. ET
- CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup
What’s at stake
The Swiss are on a roll. They arrive in Brazil having lost only once in their last 18 matches. And under the leadership of seasoned manager Ottmar Hitzfeld, they arrive with confidence.
The tragic death of Ecuadorian striker Cristian Benitez during qualifying continues to weigh heavily on “La Tri”, as the team is known. They come to Brazil - their first World Cup since 2006 - to honour his name through strong group-stage performances, starting with this one.
- Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri. Small, fast, and blessed with a deadly left-foot, this Bayern Munich midfielder is a force to be reckoned with. His right-footed goal against Peru in a warm-up shows he’s a versatile scorer.
- Ecuador: Antonio Valencia. Captain of his national team and a Man U winger, Valencia is a talented playmaker. A recent throat-grabbing incident in a warm-up against England highlights his intensity.
What to watch for
This is likely to be a low-scoring encounter.
With nine clean sheets in 15 qualifying matches, the Swiss have a very strong defence. Yet they had the lowest goals-per-game average - at 1.7 - of any European team that qualified for Brazil directly (i.e., without getting in via playoffs).
Similar to their Swiss counterparts, Ecuador had the lowest goals-per-game average - at 1.25 - of any South American team that qualified directly.
Both teams will have to go for goal as often as possible in Brazil.
They said it
- “We've had good preparations so far and we will continue in this rhythm in the upcoming days." — Ottmar Hitzfeld, Swiss coach, speaking to FIFA.com.
- “We experience the bad moments in life with great intensity, but we also overcome them in the same way.” — Reinaldo Rueda, manager of Ecuador told FIFA.com
The big number
0 — These two teams have never before. Ever. So there’s a first for everything.
Obligatory fun fact
The Swiss came out blazing in 2010, beating the eventual champions Spain 1:0. But the gears of this finely tuned team came apart quickly. They didn’t score another goal in South Africa and went home to the Alps after three games.