As we hit the second weekend of the World Cup on day 9, we’ll get the second match in group D between the previous winners, Italy and Costa Rica. On to Group E, where we’ll have the very interesting matchup between Switzerland and France, and finish the day with the Central vs South American clash of Honduras and Ecuador.
Whatever happens on the pitch at Recife, no one can secure their qualification to the next stage, although they can come very close after winning the opening match. Costa Rica stunned Uruguay with their speed and ability to get behind their lines of defense through the right wing and right back Cristian Gamboa. The free kicks of Christian Bolanos. Italy surely won’t look so confused when they’ll be forced into possession, having better tools to handle that situation, but they’ll also need to show once more they can handle speed that will come from Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell.
Italy, as always, are confident in their gameplan. Everything is about Andrea Pirlo, and it would be wise for Costa Rica to have someone closely watch the fantastic midfielder who felt no pressure from the English team last week to be pinpoint perfect on almost every passing attempt. Handling Mario Balotelli, on the ground or in the air, is going to be difficult for Costa Rica as well.
Claudio Marchisio and Antonio Candreva might emerge as the real key players or X-factors in this one. Marchisio has some fantastic off the ball movement that easily allows him to slip by defenses from the second line, while Candreva tends to give teams plenty of trouble on the right wing. Both Marco Verratti and Daniele de Rossi are here to make sure no one neglects the middle of the field defensively.
The biggest match of the day in terms of its potential and the biggest one in Group E considering the results of the first round of matches will be the European clash of Switzerland and France. Both came out as winners from their first matches, but Switzerland struggled against the counter attacking of Ecuador, while France need to show us they can dominate even against 11 men.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Switzerland go with the lineup that worked for them in the second half, which means using Admir Mehmedi on the pitch, as things went a lot more smoother with him. Maybe trying to counter attack will be a lot more comfortable with this team, although not having a striker they can really trust in Josip Drmic is undoubtedly a problem.
France didn’t have even a hint of a problem against a very poor Honduras side. Karim Benzema seems to be in peak form, and so did Mathieu Valbuena. France will be looking to get more from Antoine Griezmann who disappeared in the second half of that match. Not having to worry about someone breaking their legs surely will make things a bit easier.
The day ends with Honduras playing Ecuador, in what has an excellent potential to end in another 0-0 draw. Honduras can’t score and can hardly create anything for their forwards. Wilson Palacios not playing is a hit to their physicality in the middle of the field, which might mean we’ll see a bit more initiative from Ecuador, showing no intention of doing anything but attacking through Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero on the wings.
There’s more talent on Ecuador, but their defense is poor when they don’t defend with numbers. In quite the contrast of styles and with two teams that are often short on ideas when it comes to scoring goals, let’s hope that that we won’t be treated to a poor match.