MATCHDAY PREVIEW – The action continues in Brazil with four teams victorious in their opening games vying to build on winning starts. Costa Rica were particularly impressive in their surprise success against Uruguay, racking up three goals for the first time in a FIFA World Cup™ match, and they now take on an Italy team that has scored at least once in their last 15 finals fixtures.
Elsewhere, Group E rivals Switzerland and France know each other well already. The neighbouring nations have met 36 times in the past, with Les Bleus enjoying the upper hand thanks to a record of 15 wins, nine draws and 12 defeats. France also looked more assured in their opener, making light work of Honduras, whereas the Swiss needed to dig deep to secure a late triumph against an enterprising Ecuador side. The winners of the summit meeting between the section leaders will advance if the other match ends drawn.
In that game, Honduras can expect a stiff examination from Ecuador, and will need all their defensive solidity to frustrate opponents boasting considerable attacking flair. The history books slightly favour the South Americans too, with La Tri earning three victories and seven draws from their 12 encounters.
Italy-Costa Rica (Group D), Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 13.00 (local time)
Switzerland-France (Group E), Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 16.00 (local time)
Honduras-Ecuador (Group E), Arena da Baixada, Curitiba, 19.00 (local time)
Did you know?
Trading places: Ecuador and Honduras can make do without training-camp spies as their respective coaches are already fully clued into what makes their opponents tick. Ecuador boss Reinaldo Rueda oversaw the CONCACAF hopefuls at the 2010 World Cup, no less, although his reign was not a fruitful one. As for Honduras’s Luis Fernando Suarez, he steered La Tri to the Round of 16 at Germany 2006.
French forebears: Karim Benzema’s double against Honduras made him the first France player to score two goals in a World Cup game since Zinedine Zidane lit up the Final on 12 July 1998. Benzema came close to notching a treble too, Los Catrachos‘s goalkeeper turning a shot from the Real Madrid forward into his own net. As a result, he missed out on the team’s first World Cup hat-trick since Just Fontaine fired three goals past Paraguay in 1958, en route to ending the tournament on 13 strikes. Encouraging omens for Les Bleus?
Better late than never: Switzerland’s 2-1 opening success against Ecuador was the side’s maiden victory against South American opposition at this level, their five previous tests yielding four defeats and a draw. The win was sealed courtesy of goals from a pair of substitutes, something only six other teams had managed in World Cup contests.
Wilson Palacios (Honduras)
Treading the tightrope
Johan Djourou (Switzerland), Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye and Patrice Evra (France), Luis Garrido and Oscar Garcia (Honduras), Juan Carlos Paredes (Ecuador)
Check it out
Catenaccio is dead – long live Cesare Prandelli. Since his appointment in 2010, the Italy coach has overseen a change in mentality, laying down a new philosophy for his side: “Let’s have fun, give pleasure to spectators and always move in that direction.” Find out more and all the latest from the Nazionale camp on our dedicated Italy page.
Have France finally uncovered a striker with the same goalscoring pedigree as Just Fontaine in Karim Benzema? The Madrid man has made a promising start to Brazil 2014, but he still has a long way to go to match Justo‘s 13 strikes in a single World Cup edition.
If La Tri‘s display against Switzerland gave you a taste for Ecuadorian football, you may be fascinated to learn about the country’s passionate capital derby between Liga de Quito and Deportivo Quito. Take a closer look at one of South America’s most fervent rivalries.
On this day
Basel was the host venue on 20 June 1954 as tournament favourites Hungary handed West Germany one of the most crippling defeats in their history, winning 8-3 in the third match in Group B. Ferenc Puskas was the star at the heart of the ‘Mighty Magyars’ side – who had won 6-3 at Wembley the previous year to become the first team to beat England on home soil – but it was Sandor Kocsis who took the plaudits against West Germany. Nicknamed ‘Golden Head’, he buried four goals that day, going on to rack up 11 for the tournament, including seven headed efforts. The Germans exacted revenge in the Final on 4 July, however, winning 3-2 in the legendary ‘Miracle of Bern’.
Play and win
You too can take part in the World Cup! You may not be able to slip on a shirt and take to the pitch, but for each game you can vote for the Man of the Match and help decide who deserves the award for their performance.
Italy striker Mario Balotelli tweeted his expectations should Gli Azzurri take down Costa Rica.