Despite a forgettable performance against France, Switzerland’s hopes of advancing to the Round of 16 remain alive when they face Honduras on Thursday in Manaus in Group E action.
The Swiss trail second-place Ecuador due to goal differential, as both countries have three points. Though they have yet to earn a point, Honduras can still advance with a France victory and a high-scoring victory over Switzerland.
Both Switzerland and Honduras will look to put their previous losses behind them. In their last matches, France thumped Switzerland, 5-2, while Ecuador edged Honduras, 2-1.
Ottmar Hitzfield’s squad will be without defender Steve von Bergen due to a cheekbone injury. Philippe Senderos is expected to fill in.
Should Switzerland fail to advance, there is speculation that they will be on the search for a new head coach. Hitzfeld, who previously coached Bayern Munich, has not put much consideration into such a scenario.
"Actually I haven't thought about that yet, that it could be my last game," said Hitzfeld. "But I believe it won't be my last."
Honduras, meanwhile, welcome the return of Wilson Palacios, who is back from suspension. The former Tottenham midfielder is among the most valuable players for head coach Luis Fernando Suarez’s side.
While Suarez will need goals against the Swiss, the attack can’t afford to be too aggressive. Victor Bernardez, Jerry Bengtson, Luis Garrido and Boniek Garcia all face a suspension should they progress after picking up yellow cards in the previous two matches.
The match could be interesting considering what’s on the line. It’s probably a win-or-go-home situation for Switzerland, and certainly for Honduras.
The circumstances may seem eerily similar to four years ago. The last time Honduras and Switzerland met was in the final group match of the 2010 World Cup. The match ended without a goal, and both countries were eliminated with European nation (Spain) and a South American nation (Chile) advancing instead.
D: Lichtsteiner, Senderos, Djourou, Rodriguez
M: Behrami, Inler; Shaqiri, Xhaka, Mehmedi
D: Beckeles, Bernardez, Figueroa, Izaguirre
M: Boniek, Garrido, Palacios, Espinoza
F: Bengtson, Costly
TV Channel: ESPN2
Time: 4:00 PM ET
Prediction: Switzerland over Honduras, 2-1