Our Switzerland expert Ben Lyttleton takes on Ecuador authority Rupert Fryer ahead of one of the more intriguing games of the group stages in Brasilia.
Ben Lyttleton on Switzerland: There are no injuries in the Swiss camp which means that Ottmar Hitzfeld¹s biggest decision is who to play in the number ten role behind striker Josip Drmic. His options are either Granit Xhaka, who looked short of form in the pre-tournament friendlies, or Admir Mehmedi, who has the form but not the pedigree. Another option might be to move Xherdan Shaqiri in from the right wing, but his partnership with attacking full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner is a rich source of creativity for Switzerland.
Rupert Fryer on Ecuador: The biggest concern for coach Reinaldo Rueda has been the fitness of central midfielder Christian Noboa, who picked up a knock against England but looks like he will make it. With Segundo Castillo having already pulled out of the tournament through injury, Rueda will be keen to retain at least half of a midfield two that is so important to his solid 4-4-2. Enner Valencia will get the nod to partner big man Felipe Caicedo, with Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero charged with providing them ammunition from wide.
Ben Lyttleton on Switzerland: Switzerland beat Brazil in a friendly last year and their results in the last few weeks have been solid if unspectacular: a 1-0 win over Jamaica and 2-0 over Peru. The most important factor is that they avoided picking up any injuries. The mood in the camp is good and there is quiet confidence that they can justify their surprise status as seeds.
Rupert Fryer on Ecuador: Ecuador arrive at in Brazil with just one victory in their last seven outings, but there were positives to take from their 2-2 draw with England and from May’s tie against Netherlands in Amsterdam. Creation in central positions is still a problem, as in the link between midfield and attack following the tragic and untimely loss of Christian ‘Chucho’ Benítez. Ten goals in their last five friendlies has been an encouraging surprise but Rueda knows his side must stay compact and disciplined in order to protect a weak back-line.
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY
Switzerland’s Ottmar Hitzfeld: "Maybe we can write history. We want to be successful in Brazil; for me that would be the quarter-finals; [that] would be history for Switzerland. That is my aim."
Ecuador’s Reinaldo Rueda: "This tournament means so much to everyone… after two intense years qualifying we have demonstrated the ability of the Ecuadorian people and that generational change has been made.”
Ben Lyttleton on Switzerland: Gokhan Inler. The Swiss captain is a natural introvert and was a surprise pick to replace the outgoing Alex Frei as skipper three years ago. But while previous Swiss sides have divided into cliques, Inler's skill, as the son of a Turk, has been to integrate the players in this multicultural squad. He is also the heartbeat of the team, crucial in setting the tempo in midfield, just as he does for Italian Cup winners Napoli.
Rupert Fryer on Ecuador: On the occasions Jefferson Montero finds an end product, he's a match-winner. There are few in Brazil this month that can match the dribbling ability of the Morelia winger when one-on-one with a full-back. He can go left, he can go right, and often straight through his opposition's legs. A hugely exciting, though frustrating, talent, he has the potential to light up the group stage.
Ben Lyttleton on Switzerland: Look at the anytime scorers Josip Drmic is 3.95 and Gokan Inler 9.00. Nine months ago, Switzerland could boast an impressive creative trio but lacked a top-class forward. That might have changed with the emergence of Drmic, whose 17 goals for relegated Nuremberg last season, his first in the Bundesliga, earned him a move to Bayer Leverkusen. Inler is also a threat with his shots from outside the area.
Rupert Fryer on Ecuador: Ecuador scored the fewest goals of the Conmebol qualifiers with just 1.25 per game. And while Switzerland have at least acknowledged the existence of a goal net at the opponent’s end of the field in the time since South Africa 2010, a draw with under 2.5 is good value at 3.50. Montero has a habit of doing brilliant things that don’t quite work out, so 18.00 for him to hit the post or bar looks a fun, solid bet.
Ben Lyttleton: Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1 at 11.50
Rupert Fryer: 1-1 at 6.50
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