All those fans of non-seeded sides watching the World Cup immediately decided, after the first eight balls were drawn, to cross their fingers and pray hard for Group E. Why? Group E features the weakest of the seeded teams, Switzerland. And with Ecuador drawn next, the group started to look better and better. Honduras certainly didn't make the final sides -- waiting in Pot 4 -- root for Group E any less. And then, finally, it was France that got the joy of slipping into what looks like the World Cup's easiest group.
Group E kicks off June 15, with Switzerland facing Ecuador in Brasilia, and France and Honduras playing in Porto Alegre.
They may have come from Pot 4, but it's likely that France will be the ones emerging on top of Group E. They finished second in their qualifying group but, to be fair, they were drawn with Spain. Les Bleus then artfully arranged a thrilling ending to the UEFA playoffs, allowing Ukraine to take the first leg 2-0 only to come back and beat them 3-0 in the second leg. If France had been drawn in any other group, they may have had a repeat of the 2010 World Cup, or at least, may not have emerged on top. But with rather weak competition in this group, Les Bleus are likely to redeem themselves and move on to the knockout stages.
Going through: Switzerland
Switzerland as the seed gives everyone a fighting chance in Group E. The side aren't weak, as such, but they're also not one of the top eight teams in the world -- only through FIFA's interesting ranking system could Switzerland manage to wiggle themselves into a seeded spot. In the previous Group E, not the trickiest in UEFA qualifying, the Swiss managed seven wins and three draws. Will they make it through? Yes. Switzerland features a nice balance of youth and experience. The Napoli trio of Gökhan İnler, Blerim Džemaili and Valon Behrami will provide midfield steel, while Bundesliga players Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri add a bit of youthful zest.
Ecuador has a chance at getting through thanks to their fairly weak competition. They qualified directly from South America, beating out Uruguay, who required a playoff to get through. Their strength comes from their wings, from Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero, and if they can use their wide play to get past defenders, Ecuador might be a surprise from Group E. But they're also shaky at defending and, understandably, still reeling from the all-too-early death of one of their best, 27-year-old Christian 'Chucho' Benitez.
Dead Last: Honduras
Honduras might be the worst team in the group, at least on paper, but this may also represent a real chance for them to advance. Although they ended up as the third best side in CONCACAF qualifying, they beat both the United States and Mexico and have some very talented players. They've got a handful of veterans with European club experience and some youngsters that are trending in the right direction. North American fans should be very familiar with the likes of Anderlecht's Andy Najar (late of DC United), Wigan's Roger Espinoza (late of Sporting Kansas City), Oscar Boniek Garcia (of the Houston Dynamo) and Carlo Costly (late of the Dynamo). They'll be mostly organized by the likes of Premier League veterans Wilson Palacios (Stoke City) and Maynor Figueroa (Hull City).
Best Player: Franck Ribéry
No question here that Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribéry is the best player in this group. The Frenchman was essential to Bayern's treble-winning season and remains a critical component of Pep Guardiola's side. At 30, the injuries are starting to crop up a bit more, but he's still one of the best in the business. Ribéry is great with the ball at his feet, able to pressure opponents and beat defenders, and isn't too bad at providing an assist. If he stays healthy, he'll be key to France taking honors from Group E.
Emerging Star: Xhedran Shaqiri
The young Swiss star is already at the top club team in the world, and he's going to get plenty of time to get ready for the World Cup thanks to injuries in Bayern Munich's front line. That's a scary thought; Shaqiri is already a lethal winger, and getting more time at the top level will make him even more dangerous. Have fun, fullbacks!
Honorable mention: Paul Pogba. Well, we couldn't have both the best player and the emerging star from the same country, could we now? But you'll have to keep an eye on the player who just snatched up Europe's Golden Boy award. He's currently lighting up the pitch at Juventus and is sure to make an impression in Brazil.
There's no real marquee matchup in Group E. No bitter rivals, no tactical geniuses to stand off against one another. With this being one of the weaker groups in the tournament, perhaps the must-watch match will be those scheduled for the final day, as it might go down to the wire to determine who stays in Brazil.