2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. EDT
Arena Amazonia – Manaus, Brazil
Switzerland -250, Honduras +600, Tie +333
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over -144, Under +115)
Switzerland looks to move forward to the knockout stage of the World Cup when it takes on winless Honduras on Wednesday in the Brazilian rainforest in Manaus.
The Swiss began the tournament with a narrow 2-1 victory over Ecuador in extra time, but was steamrolled 5-2 by France in its follow-up game. Honduras also got pounded 3-0 by Les Blues, but played much better in a 2-1 defeat to Ecuador, with their tally ending a 32-year, goal-less drought in World Cup play. With France virtually assured to move on to the Round of 16 with six points and a +6 goal differential, Switzerland needs at least a draw plus an Ecuador loss to France to keep playing in the 2014 World Cup. This match takes place exactly four years to the day these teams last met in the World Cup when the clubs played to a 0-0 tie that eliminated both teams from the tournament.
Honduras will once again be a huge underdog, but key midfielder Wilson Palacios will be able return after picking up two yellow cards in the first half versus France, which kept him out of the Ecuador match. Honduras actually got on the board first in the 31st minute of that game when Carlo Costly scored the country's first World Cup goal since 1982, ending a drought of five straight goal-less games. Even though Enner Valencia tallied at both the 34-minute mark, and 65 minutes in for the game-winner, Honduras still held the edge in many statistics. They outshot Ecuador 16-8 in total shots, including 9-5 in shots on goal. Ball possession was nearly even though (49% Honduras, 51% Ecuador), but Honduras had three times fewer corner kicks (four) than Ecuador did (12). Honduras also picked up a couple of yellow cards in the first half with Victor Bernardez and Jerry Bengtson. Honduras continues to be led on defense by Maynor Figueroa, who played an outstanding match four years ago in the scoreless draw with Switzerland. But Honduras needs to win by a wide margin to have any shot of moving to the next round, so expect them to attack much more than usual.
Switzerland has to be extremely concerned with their defense, especially with the loss of Steve von Bergen for the rest of the tournament after he fractured his cheekbone. He is arguably their best defensive player. His substitute Philippe Senderos had a brutal showing versus France, and was a big reason why Les Blues netted five goals. Despite that result, Switzerland could pack it in for a low-scoring tie on Wednesday and hope France rolls past Ecuador. The Swiss really need Xherdan Shaqiri to provide some offense for this club, which does have a little momentum with goals in the 81st minute (Blerim Dzemaili) and 87th minute (Granit Xhaka) against France. They wound up with a ton of shots (17), but put only eight of those on goal. In their Cup opener, they attempted 18 shots with 12 of those on target. But the Swiss did hold the edge in possession over France (57% to 43%) and had more corners (5-3), but less fouls (12-16) and no cards. Switzerland are the more experienced and quicker team in this matchup, and should be confident they can bounce back from the debacle versus France.