If you're a casual follower of international soccer, you might have been really stunned to see Switzerland get a top seed for the World Cup draw back in December. The Swiss haven't done much of anything in recent major tournaments and didn't have a very hard qualifying group, but they scheduled a bunch of friendlies against really good teams and managed to beat them. They somehow scheduled effectively enough to get into the top 8 of the FIFA rankings, so here they are, favorites to win their group.
They're expected to beat Ecuador, but the South Americans are no pushovers. This should be a competitive match.
Ecuador would not be out of place in the 1990s. They play a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders, two true wingers and two strikers. They defend with eight men behind the ball, then try to counter quickly and cross to their strikers. They might be the most tactically simple team in the whole tournament, but they made the tournament for a reason. It works, and it plays to their players' strengths.
The Swiss are a bit more complex, though not outrageous in anyway. Expect them to play the world's formation de jour, 4-2-3-1, with a couple of solid two-way midfielders behind a playmaker. They can play multiple styles, but since they're better in midfield than Ecuador and are going to be wary of getting into a track meet, expect them to try to keep the ball on the ground and win a possession battle.
Know the Basics
Know the Basics
Switzerland's best-known player is probably Xherdan Shaqiri, a tricky winger from Bayern Munich. Because he doesn't play much for Bayern in their big games, it's possible that you last saw him embarrassing the hell out of Manchester United in the Champions League when he played for Basel. The same goes for his former Basel teammate Granit Xhaka, who now plays for Borussia Mönchengladbach. They're joined by young forward Josip Drmic, who's finally fixing the broken striker position for the Swiss.
The big stars for Ecuador are the wingers, and everything's going to go through them. There's a good chance you're already aware of Manchester United right winger Antonio Valencia, but the man on the other flank is just as dangerous. Jefferson Montero of Monarcas Morelia has a bit more of a nose for goal than Tony V, but he can put in a cross as well, and he's a very talented dribbler.