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Friday, June 25, 2010


Even HONDURAS have a chance albeit slim

Switzerland and Honduras go into Friday’s final Group H fixture with the same objective: both need a win to stand a chance of progressing. The central Americans are bottom of the section with no points so far, but can still make the Round of 16 if they beat the Swiss, Spain lose to Chile, and the requisite number of goals are scored and conceded to nose the Hondurans in front of the Spanish on goal difference.
Switzerland know even more precisely what they need. A victory over the Hondurans by two clear goals would see them into the last sixteen, regardless of the outcome between the European champions and the South Americans. A draw might yet be enough for the Swiss, should Spain lose for the second time at the finals. However, relying on that outcome may be foolhardy.

Switzerland player to watch: Diego Benaglio.

Honduras are desperate to restore some pride in their final game, so the Swiss can expect more ambition from their opponents in the early stages at least. Wolfsburg goalkeeper Benaglio has been hugely impressive against attack-minded Spain and Chile so far and, if he can keep another clean sheet, Switzerland have a great opportunity to reach the second stage.

Honduras player to watch: David Suazo.
This 30-year-old Inter Milan striker has spent over a decade playing in Italy but, since leaving Cagliari in 2007, he has struggled for goals and he spent 2010 on loan at Genoa. Injury problems have hindered his preparations for the tournament and he missed the opener against Chile with a leg problem, but he returned against Spain and, with 84 minutes under his belt in that game, Honduras will be desperate for Suazo to recover some form and give the country something to celebrate.

Key Battle: Gokhan Inler v Wilson Palacios
The players fill the same midfield role for their respective teams, snuffing out dangerous moves in the holding position, and then launching attacks of their own with intelligent passing from deep. Both have made the breakthrough in leading European leagues, Palacios in England with Tottenham Hotspur, and Inler in Italy with Udinese. Both wear the number eight for their countries, each is the tireless provider for his team, and both are aged 25. With most pundits anticipating an open game and plenty of open space, the contribution made by the pair will be even more significant than normal, both in guarding the area in front of the back four and setting team-mates free for attacks down the flanks.

Switzerland are perhaps better at grinding out results than going on the attack, but Honduras have done little so far in South Africa. Goals may prove vital in the final reckoning, so a substantial Swiss win is on the cards.

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