It is Match Day Nine at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Here is a preview of the three matches.
After their stunner against Costa Rica last week, Uruguay bounced back to beat England, 2-1 in a pulsating match at the Arena Corinthians. Luis Suarez starred with two goals and dashed England's hopes.
Today, the biggest match-up will be France vs Switzerland while Italy will face Costa Rica who will look to produce another shock victory in group D.
France vs Switzerland
No Ribery, no problem! Against Honduras, France looked effortless and for the first time after six years, I sense some unity in this French squad. There are no factions and the players are only here for one purpose - play good football and impress the world.
Didier Deschamps will be happy to see his side notch a victory but their match against Switzerland is going to be a tough one, It’s the battle of tactics and Deschamps knows Switzerland’s Ottmar Hitzfeld has the upper hand thanks to his experience.
Switzerland had to fight till the last minute to beat Ecuador 2-1 and we might see some changes in the first eleven for this match. Josip Drmic looks likely to replaced with Haris Seferovic as the lone centre-forward.
Xerdan Shaqiri will be the creative spark while Valon Behrami and Gokhan Inler will be key in combating France’s talented midfield. Hitzfield will also rely on his subs, as showcased against Ecuador, and it will be interesting to see if he plays his cards well.
It will be an interesting match but based on form and talent, the Les Bleus has what it takes to beat the Swiss. Scoreline 2-1 to France.
Italy vs Costa Rica
Italy got off to a good start when they beat England 2-1 in Arena Amazonia. Before the tournament, many would have predicted Italy to whip Costa Rica but after seeing Costa Rica shocked Uruguay, they will have second thoughts about that.
Cesare Prandelli is an enterprising coach and his brand of football with Italy has been a joy to watch. Andrea Pirlo is the orchestrator of the side and he will be the main to watch for this game.
Mario Balotelli is the main man up front and he looks set to be assisted by the likes of Antonio Candreva and Marco Veratti. Gianluigi Buffon is set to return in goal and this will be a boost for the Italian side.
Costa Rica under Jorge Luis Pinto are organised and well-balanced as a team. I’m sure Pinto will retain his first eleven and one man, Joel Campbell will be the one to watch.
Young, mercurial and talented, Campbell will be tasked to unlock Spain’s defence and he will be hoping to see his teammates like Bryan Ruiz and Cristian Bolanos doing the same too.
Another shock victory for Costa Rica? I don’t think so. Italy to win 2-0.
Honduras vs Ecuador
Both sides lost their first game and they will look to kickstart their world campaign by getting their first win tomorrow. Can either side do it?
Honduras will be without Wilson Palacios who was sent off against France. Roger Espinoza, Andy Najar and Luis Garrido will be tasked to provide chances for Carlos Costly and Jerry Bengtson.
Honduras is a physical side and they will surely try to thwart the pacy Ecuador. Reinaldo Rueda will retain his first eleven for this match hopes to see Antonio Valencia and Felipe Caicedo come good in this match.
Watchout for Ecuador’s winger Jefferson Montero whose mazy runs caused lots of problems for Switzerland in the last game. Maynor Figueroa will surely have a tough time against him and he will need to be on his toes when facing Montero.
Flair will triumph physical strength in this match. Ecuador to beat Honduras 2-1.