Most Impressive World Cup Group E Team
On paper, a pretty boring group, but so far, Group E has provided some of the best matches of the tournament. Quality of sides ranging from France to Honduras, the group ended the way many thought it would, with France finishing top and Switzerland in second.
For me, the most impressive team in Group E has to be the side who topped the group, France. Many questioned manager Didier Deschamps decision to leave one of the star men in Samir Nasri out of the squad, and when Franck Ribery pulled out of the tournament with injury, things were looking bleak for the French, despite being in one of the easiest groups of the tournament. World Cup meltdowns in both 2002 and 2010 lingered on the mind, but Les Bleus have moved quickly to make those distant memories, and set about making new history in the World Cup.
Starting off the tournament with a comfortable 3-0 win over Honduras, France began a lot stronger than most of the other top sides in the tournament. Karim Benzema led the way with two goals either side of a Valladares own goal, and a solid team performance all round, made a hell of a lot easier when Stoke City midfielder Wilson Palacios saw red in the first half. Deschamps appears to have got his tactics right, flirting with two strikers in the warm up games, but reverting back to just the one when the tournament started, playing a 4-3-3. Having favoured Liverpool centre back Sakho over Laurent Koscielny, and a midfield of Pogba, Matuidi and Cabaye, France looked solid in possession of the ball and stomping out any potential chances Honduras had. Then going forward, having Valbuena and Griezmann either side of the main man Benzema, France were exciting to watch and look a happy camp for once. Into their second game, France came up against arguably the best team in the group bar themselves, and they dispatched them with ease. 5-2 was the final score, showing some frailties at the back, but with both goals coming at 5-0, it wasn’t a surprise to see them switch off and look towards the knockout stages. Deschamps had a revamp, playing Benzema left wing and Giroud as the lone striker, with Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko coming in for Paul Pogba. These proved to be inspired changes, with both Giroud and Sissoko getting on the scoresheet. Benzema accompanied them with his third of the tournament, and Valbuena and Matuidi wrapped up the game. A comfortable game for the French almost certainly saw them progress into the next round, with a point against Ecuador enough to see them top the group, and that’s exactly what they did. Deschamps rang the changes to rest some legs, and France played out a fairly boring 0-0 draw with the South Americans to see them progress to face Nigeria in the next round.
Overall, going into the tournament France were one of the sides almost everyone tipped to flop at the tournament without their two key players, and how wrong they were. The loss of two big names appears to have brought the group together, a group without any ego’s for the first time in a while for the French. As a side they look entertaining, and although they may concede goals, they’re more than capable of outscoring their opponents, with one of the best attacks at the tournament so far. This side could provide some shocks in the knockout stages. If all goes to plan they will face Germany in the quarter finals, and that will be the first real test for this French side.