GMS academy member Graham Leydon has decided to profile how he thinks each and every one of the 48 group-stage clashes will unfold at a South American showpiece which is now under 24 hours away, continuing with Group B.
On paper, this is seen as the second-weakest group and perhaps the one most likely to produce an upset. France seem to be rounding the corner at just the right time, however, and there's a lot of young talent available for the French squad to work with. Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann all had dominant seasons at their respective clubs, and their 2-0 win over Netherlands earlier this year was just the type of confidence booster they needed pre-World Cup.
They have the talent within the team, but even still they will find tough to top the group. in my opinion they will top the group thanks to convincing 3-0 and 3-1 wins against Honduras and Ecuador, plus a 1-1 draw that will just edge them past Switzerland on goal difference.
The Swiss team and their combination of talent and work rate are somehow flying under the radar, and they have an excellent record against France which will prove useful enough. They should qualify with seven points too, but end up finishing second in the group, winning games 2-0 against Honduras and 2-1 against Ecuador and finishing with a 1-1 draw against France. Xherdan Shaqiri, Eren Derdiyok, Gokhan Inler, Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichsteiner will all score a goal each.
Andy Najar had a great second half to the season with Anderlecht, and the winger looks like he could have a very bright future both at club level and with Honduras. However he's simply too young to carry his squad past heavyweights such as France and Switzerland, as Honduras lack true veteran players to take the pressure off his shoulders.
While they will be expected to finish bottom, Najar could be one of the bright lights of the Honduran team, which could just sneak them into third. While they will be out their depth against Switzerland and France, with 2-0 and 3-0 losses respectively, they will manage a 2-1 win against Ecuador.
Ecuador could surprise people, as they proved against Uruguay during the qualifiers. But big tournaments often require star power, something the squad lacks. As a result they will finish bottom of their group after suffering a 3-1 loss to France, 2-1 loss to Switzerland and 2-1 defeat to Honduras. Felipe Caicedo will score one, Antonio Valencia will score one and Jaime Ayovi will also find the net.
Final table prediction:
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
France 3 2 1 0 7 2 +5 7
Switzerland 3 2 1 0 5 2 +3 7
Honduras 3 1 0 2 2 6 -4 3
Ecuador 3 0 0 3 3 7 -4 0
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