by Malcolm Curtis|The Local Switzerland|December 6, 2013
Swiss football fans are already visualizing their team in the final 16 of next years’s World Cup after landing in a favourable group in Friday’s draw for the competition next summer in Brazil.
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That may be premature but analysts say Switzerland has a good opportunity to advance from Group E against Ecuador, France and Honduras after avoiding a group with the world’s top teams.
The Swiss will first kick off against Ecuador on June 15th.
The Nati is then set to play France on June 20th and Honduras on June 25th.
Switzerland’s coach Ottmar Hitzfeld spoke prior to the draw of Switzerland being hugely fortunate to find themselves among the top seeds, Joe Wright, an editor with the website goal.com told The Local.
“Following events in Brazil on Friday, he can indeed count himself a little lucky,” Wright said.
“It could have been better for Switzerland, but it certainly could have been worse,” he said
“Undoubtedly the biggest test comes from France, who recaptured some of the spirit of their victorious 1998 campaign to reach the finals ahead of Ukraine,” Wright said.
“The two sides were pitted in Group G in the 2006 tournament in Germany, where Switzerland finished top of the group following a 0-0 draw against les Bleus — a game which they felt they should have won, in truth — and memories of their Stuttgart encounter will provide plenty of optimism for the Nati.”
Ultimately, the clash with Ecuador could well prove pivotal to Switzerland’s hopes of progression, Wright said.
“The South American nation will face little difficulty coping with the Brazilian climate, and impressive qualifying wins over Chile and Colombia proved they can match the very best on their day.”
Wright believes a place in the round of 16 is well within Switzerland’s reach.
“Hitzfeld made it clear he wishes to leave a legacy with Switzerland when he steps down after the tournament,” he said.
“The group stage draw has, on paper at least, made it possible.”
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