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World Cup

  • June 15, 2014
  • • 17:00
  • • Estádio Nacional de Brasília, Brasília, Distrito Federal
  • Referee: R. Irmatov
  • • Attendance: 68351

Switzerland-Ecuador Preview: Can Hitzfeld's men repeat their stunning start of 2010?

Switzerland-Ecuador Preview: Can Hitzfeld's men repeat their stunning start of 2010?


The Nati beat Spain in the opening fixture four years ago and will have to be on their mettle against Antonio Valencia and Co. on Sunday

Switzerland started the 2010 World Cup with a surprise win over Spain and they will be looking to get this summer’s tournament off to a similar start.

National team coach Ottmar Hitzfeld doesn’t have any noteworthy injury problems ahead of the match versus Ecuador and has a fit squad to pick his starting XI from.

His main selection headache will be who to pick alongside centre-back Steve von Bergen, with Philippe Senderos, Fabian Schar and Johan Djourou all hoping to get the nod. Schar featured in the friendly against Peru, but Hitzelfd might turn to the more experienced Senderos on Sunday.

Higher up the pitch, Napoli midfielder Bleri Dzemaili might have to settle for a spot on the bench as Gokhan Inler and Valon Behrami are set to start in midfield.

New Bayer Leverkusen signing Josip Drmic seems to be sitting in pole position to start as striker, ahead of Real Sociedad attacker Haris Seferovic.

Ecuador boss Reinaldo Rueda has no such luxuries as he will have to make do without midfielder Segundo Castillo due to injury, with the 32-year-old pulling out of the World Cup earlier this week.

To make matters even worse, Christian Noboa is in danger of missing the match versus Switzerland as well after picking up a knock in the friendly against England, even though Rueda remains hopeful the midfielder will make it in time.

Ecuador’s injury worries in midfield mean that either Edison Mendez, who scored the winner in his country’s first-ever World Cup win in 2002, or promising youngster Carlos Gruez will start against the Swiss.

Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero are expected to start on the wings in Ecuador’s 4-4-2 formation, with Enner Valencia likely to partner star striker Felipe Caicedo.

Players to watch

X. Shaqiri

Position: Midfielder

Games: 4

  • 3
  • 0
  • 0
Shaqiri might have endured a difficult season at Bayern Munich as injuries and the stiff competition for places kept his contribution to the Bavarians’ successful Bundesliga campaign limited, but the winger remains one of the most exciting youngsters around in the game. The 22-year-old made a brief appearance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and he will be determined to shine at the biggest stage again and guide his country to a good result in their opening game.

A. Valencia

Position: Midfielder

Games: 3

  • 0
  • 1
  • 1
Valencia has developed into a valuable first-team member at Manchester United over the past few seasons and remains a key player for Ecuador, too. He made the headlines for all the wrong reasons when he got sent off in the recent friendly against England, but his dismissal will only have further motivated him to show what he can do in Sunday’s match at the Estadio Mane Garrincha.

Editor's Prediction

Ecuador have shown in recent friendlies against Netherlands and England that they are a force to be reckoned with, but Switzerland should be capable of bagging the full three points in Sunday’s encounter nonetheless. The individual quality of experienced players such as Gokhan Inler and Stephan Lichtsteiner as well as promising youngsters Ricardo Rodriguez and Xherdan Shaqiri should prove to be too much for Reinaldo Rueda’s men and the Swiss will be confident of starting their World Cup campaign on a high once again.

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