Not long to go now in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup now, and this evening sees Group E reach its conclusion. France have been one of the most impressive teams in this competition over the two matches that they have played so far and they are already more or less through to its knockout stages. They play Ecuador, who are in second place in the group as kick-off approaches. If France win or draw their match, it all comes down to Switzerland and how they get on in their game against Honduras, who can only qualify for the next round of the competition if they win and Ecuador lose to France by… quite a few. Switzerland’s two late goals France may come in useful in the event of things coming down to goal difference – they kick off two goals worse off than Ecuador but level on points. We’ll be back here shortly before nine for what promises to be a tense and nervous evening of foot. In the meantime, here are tonight’s teams:

Ecuador: Dominguez, Guagua, Erazo, Paredes, Noboa, Montero, W Ayovi, E Valencia, Minda, Arroyo (c), A Valencia.

France: Lloris (c), Sakho, Benzema, Griezmann, Matuidi, Sagna, Digne, Sissoko, Pogba, Koscielny, Schneiderlin

Honduras: Valladares (c), Figueroa, Bernardez, J Garcia, W Palacios, Bengtson, Costly, B Garcia, Espinoza, Claros, Beckeles.

Switzerland: Benaglio, Lichtsteiner, Inler (c), Xhaka, Behrami, Rodriguez, Mehmedi, Drmic, Djourou, Schaer, Shaqiri

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Mark June 25, 201411:12 pm

I have a funny feeling about Argentina v Switzerland. And its not indigestion.

Ian June 25, 201410:58 pm

Well, I think Ecuador’s chance died once and for all with the sending off of Valencia, although it didn’t help that one of their players was dressed like Ena Sharples for most of the match.

They were never going to claw two goals back.

Mark June 25, 201410:58 pm

John Hartson thinks Honduras weren’t awarded a penalty because the ref would have to send Djourou off and he’d miss the next game. That’s got to be bollocks, hasn’t it?

Mark June 25, 201410:55 pm

“Hopp Schwizz” says a banner. “Boo” says an entire crowd as Sepp Blatter, Swiss himself, is shown on the big screen. Three-nil. And Shaqiri and Drmic are the stars. Forgot Muller’s hat-trick but Shaqiri didn’t include a penalty and, as it was three consecutive goals, was the 1st REAL hat-trick. My excuses and I’m sticking to them.

Ted June 25, 201410:53 pm


Ian June 25, 201410:51 pm

Tesco Value Neville was just talking about cramp and used the phrase “in my day.”

Tesco Value Neville retired, I think, two years ago.

Ian June 25, 201410:50 pm

Mark June 25, 201410:48 pm

Bower says that you’d expect hat-tricks from “your Mullers, your Neymars and your Messis.” But not “your Ronaldos.” Shaqiri has been subbed and jokes with Swiss bench-warmers as if qualification is inevitable. You’d be foolish…cough…to assume that…

Ian June 25, 201410:45 pm

Benzema curls the ball goalwards and Alexandre Dominguez, the Ecuadorian goalkeeper (and by a country mile the man of the match) palms the ball away.

Ian June 25, 201410:44 pm

Ecuador support singing ‘Si se puede’ – “Yes, we can.”

Not long left to prove it.

Ian June 25, 201410:43 pm

I think they were probably Ecuador’s last chances gone, there. Arroya gets a little space on the left and, while the angle wasn’t terribly kind for him, he slices his shot horribly wide. A couple of minutes later, Ibarra cuts in from the right but his shot is too close to Hugo “Slow” Lloris, who beats the shot away comfortably.

Mark June 25, 201410:40 pm

Swiss keeper Benaglio has made two good saves in the last couple of minutes but Bengston should have buried the second chance. A terrific second half, even if there’s no drama left in this group…he says as Ecuador nearly score against France. Ulp!

Ian June 25, 201410:36 pm

I have no idea why I do this, but I *always* think that Karim Benzema’s first name is Phillipe. Even now, I’m Googling it to double-check that I’ve got it right.

Ian June 25, 201410:33 pm

Anyway, Ecuador need to win 2-0 to qualify now, and I can’t see where that’s coming from.

Ian June 25, 201410:32 pm

He says, at least one minute before Pogba heads across the face of goal from a good position, the first time anything much of interest has happened since I mentioned how much the second half started.

Mark June 25, 201410:32 pm

Swiss break. Drmic to Shaqiri. Hat-trick Shaqiri. 3-0. Who needs vowels? Kilbane ends three consecutive sentences with “it really is.” But it really was a great goal. Argentina would be susceptible to that sort of break. But Messi against Djourou is a prospect to chill Swiss blood.

Ian June 25, 201410:30 pm

It’s tense, fo sho, but since I mentioned how much of an improvement the second half had been over the first, it’s reverted to being dog dirt again.

Ted June 25, 201410:26 pm

Mark June 25, 201410:24 pm

“Djourou. FFS” tweets Swiss Ramble. Correctly. The referee’s assistant must be on corners and throw-ins only, not to give that penalty, as replays show him gawping right at the incident.

Ted June 25, 201410:22 pm

I’m pretty sure that’s my favourite Gary Lineker fact.

Ted June 25, 201410:22 pm

Incidentally, Gary Lineker had a diarrhoea incident at the World Cup, for England vs Republic of Ireland at Italia 90.

Mark June 25, 201410:21 pm

Ooops. Djourou pushes Jerry Palacios in the back in the box and its no penalty, for reasons unknown. Palacios is the spit of John Barnes as he looks despairingly at the ref.

Ted June 25, 201410:21 pm

Alexander Dominguez, the Ecuador goalkeeper, is keeping his side in with a chance of progressing. Diarrhoea update: none as yet.

Ian June 25, 201410:20 pm

There’s been more good football in the first fifteen minutes of this half than there was in the whole of the first.

Ted June 25, 201410:19 pm

Sakho off for France, replaced by Rafael Varane, who is apparently suffering from an upset stomach. Now, you know me… any likelihood of an explosive incidence of diarrhoea at an international sporting event is bound to pique my interest.

Mark June 25, 201410:18 pm

Of course, Shaqiri will be subbed soon, just like every other player in sight of a hat-trick in this competition.

Mark June 25, 201410:17 pm

Shaqiri to Drmic. Both short of a vowel, to English eyes, but combining well. Drmic should have two by now and Shaqiri’s just come close to a third.

Ted June 25, 201410:15 pm

It speaks volumes for quite how disinterested France have been in this game that Ecuador are down to ten men, one of them is wearing a bag of onions on their head, and they STILL look the more likely to score. It’s a magnificently FRENCH performance.

Ted June 25, 201410:14 pm

perhaps his gammon hat is restricting the blood flow to his brain, thus causing him to make poor judgements

Ian June 25, 201410:12 pm

I’m blaming that hat for that miss. Noboa played through on goal – though admittedly from a badly weighted pass – and he shoots tamely wide. That could prove to be rather expensive, that miss.

Mark June 25, 201410:12 pm

“Very good going forward but at the back they could certainly be exposed,” says Kilbane of Switzerland, although it could describe just about any team left in the competition.

Ted June 25, 201410:12 pm

Ecuador nearly obliged me: Ecuador break away, three on two, but Noboa fires wide and fails to become the first supermarket gammon ever to score a World Cup goal.

Mark June 25, 201410:11 pm

Blimey, Bengston has one cleared off the line by Rodriguez after the best move of the match. Game not quite over yet?

Ted June 25, 201410:11 pm

meanwhile, I’m dreaming of goals and reading this list

Ted June 25, 201410:09 pm

Antonio Valencia sent off for Ecuador for what is best described as an accidental studs-up challenge. That’s the second daft red card in two days, after the Italy one yesterday. Luis Suarez, meanwhile, is free to give the whole world rabies should he wish to.

Mark June 25, 201410:08 pm

Jerry Bengston misses a sitter by trying to head a ball he could have side-footed in from six yards. The sort of ball only John Terry would try and head.

Ian June 25, 201410:08 pm

Valencia sent off. I think that’s probably about it for Ecuador now, isn’t it?

(Stayed tuned and watch me be wrong again, kids)

Ted June 25, 201410:07 pm

Those were the golden days of football, when FIFA allowed the intercontinental cup to be played on the moon.

Mark June 25, 201410:07 pm

Switzerland’s Lichtsteiner spent most of the first half being fouled by Roger Espinoza “of Wigan Athletic.” Chavez replaced Espinozaofwigan at the interval. Time of his first foul on Lichtsteiner: 36 mins 4 seconds.

Ian June 25, 201410:06 pm

Hey, Mark, are Honduras attempting to kick the shit out of Switzerland?

Ted June 25, 201410:05 pm

France have decided to put out their cigarettes and play football this half. They oh so nearly make it 1-0.

Ian June 25, 201410:05 pm

I’ve just been sent this on Twitter. Now, *this* is the sort of football I understand:

Mark June 25, 201410:04 pm

BTW: Nestor “Herman Munster” Pitana – the “combover king” is the Manaus ref.

Ted June 25, 201410:03 pm

OH HANG ON, a football match just interrupted Book Chat.

Ted June 25, 201410:03 pm

I’d have them read Winnie The Pooh by A. A. Milne.

Ted June 25, 201410:02 pm

reading the complete works of Dr Seuss would be a good idea, as they contain many complex ideas.

Mark June 25, 201410:02 pm

BBC3’s review of England’s entire tournament takes four minutes, graphics, music et al. Speaks volumes, that.

Ian June 25, 201410:01 pm

In that case, I will balance that out with Das Kapital, and Green Eggs & Ham.

Ted June 25, 201410:01 pm

Actually, I would have them all read a book that I would like to read but can’t be bothered to. And then they could tell me what they were about.

Ted June 25, 20149:59 pm

And, inevitably, Mein Kampf.

Ted June 25, 20149:59 pm

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4

Ian June 25, 20149:58 pm

Okay, what books would *you* have them read?

Ted June 25, 20149:57 pm

That is it. Didier Deschamps, who has apparently made his players read Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson and Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography, could take a leaf out of my book.

Ian June 25, 20149:55 pm

Is that it?

Ted June 25, 20149:53 pm

While the BBC wiffle on about tactics, I’m going to reveal what I think is going to happen to football tactics in the future:

Basically, I think the game is evolving back towards 2-3-5.

There. Minds: blown.

Mark June 25, 20149:53 pm

It really is “so easy” and so fine for Switzerland, two-up at half-time, with Drmic twice close to making it three in the closing minutes. It will take a major breakdown or midfield civil war for Switzerland to lose this, especially as Shaqiri is “floating centrally” and causing problems “when he picks his head up.” Honduras could play for 14 years and still not score. And we are being treated to a slo-mo montage of Honduran fouls, including a couple on each other.

Ted June 25, 20149:49 pm

I am going to eat some cheese.

Ted June 25, 20149:48 pm

especially if Martin Hong and King Kong turn up

Ian June 25, 20149:48 pm

Well, that wasn’t great, was it?

But things should improve in the second half.

Ted June 25, 20149:47 pm

If he could share the chair with King Kong, my life would be utterly complete.

Ted June 25, 20149:47 pm

I have just discovered that the chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association is called Martin Hong.

Ted June 25, 20149:43 pm

This match isn’t particularly tickling my pickle, but it’s worth bearing in mind that it could be worse

Mark June 25, 20149:40 pm

Carlos Costly’s “day and probably tournament is over.” He is replaced by Jerry Palacios, the eldest of Honduran football’s royal family.

Ted June 25, 20149:37 pm

In fact, the majority of the Ecuadorian players have magnificent names. My favourites: Walter Ayovi and Jorge Guagua. Guagua is the noise I would make if my house was 3000 feet above sea level.

Mark June 25, 20149:37 pm

Honduras looking more Wigan by the minute. Kilbane suggests Honduras should go more direct and he’s right. They can’t pass wind at the moment (about which I’m a little jealous at the moment, which I’m sure you’re glad to know). Oh…and Shaqiri is “on Liverpool’s agenda.” Well, they are in search of a squat, temperamental striker.

Ted June 25, 20149:35 pm

I like the name Noboa, though. He sounds like someone who denies the existence of woodwind instruments.

Ted June 25, 20149:33 pm

So someone might assail him with mustard and brown sugar, then press cloves into his cheeks

Mark June 25, 20149:33 pm

Shaqiri strikes again. A quick break after about 94 Honduran passes, set up incisively by Drmic. Europe 2 The Americas 0 in this group.

Ted June 25, 20149:32 pm

If you buy a large gammon, it often comes wrapped in one of those hats.

Ian June 25, 20149:32 pm

2. He looks ridiculous.

(Getting the important reasons out of the way first)

Ted June 25, 20149:31 pm

First amongst them: he might accidentally catch a fish

Ian June 25, 20149:30 pm

I don’t wish to sound like Health & Safety Freddy here, but I can’t help but think that there are several reasons why Noboa shouldn’t be on the pitch wearing that bizarre fishnet hat.

Ted June 25, 20149:28 pm

Ecuador seem genuinely interested in winning the game, understandably so, but otherwise unable to do anything about it. Half of the French team are drinking coffees.

Ian June 25, 20149:27 pm


Mark, it was 89% humidity down here in sunny Shoreham last night. It was bloody horrible.

Ted June 25, 20149:26 pm

This game is drifting past like a discarded slipper in a canal

Mark June 25, 20149:26 pm

88% humidity in Manaus. That’s quite a lot isn’t it? I suspect Jimmy Anderson could get his inswinger going in those conditions.

Ted June 25, 20149:26 pm


Ian June 25, 20149:25 pm

Reasons why I love French football, part thirty-nine. These goal nets, at Parc des Princes. I saw PSG play there with these goal nets. They drew 1-1 with Lille, I think.

Mark June 25, 20149:23 pm

If there’s going to be a 5-2 in Manaus, it will be to Switzerland, although Honduran defender Beckeles slices a good chance wide.

Ian June 25, 20149:18 pm

I have perfected the art of zoning out from commentaries at this tournament, which probably partly explains why I have no idea what is going on most of the time.

Glad to hear my text to the Maracana got through. A hearty rendition of the national anthem from the French supporters.

Ted June 25, 20149:16 pm

I don’t want, or like, to jump on any bandwagons. But good GRIEF, Phil Neville is dull. I realised he had been talking for some minutes and it was all drifting past like white noise.

Ian June 25, 20149:15 pm

I’ve just been through that France team you posted and I know all of their first names. I couldn’t say that for this year’s team.

For the record, they are: Joel, Patrick, Maxime, Yvon, Jean-Francois, Luis, Alain, Jean, Michel, Bernard, Didier.

Mark June 25, 20149:15 pm

“Der Zauberzwerg!” exclaims “Swiss Ramble” on Twitter. Presumably he’s pleased.

Mark June 25, 20149:13 pm

Shqiri’s goal would have looked better if Honduras keeper Valladares’s efforts to stop it hadn’t been so much like an ill-executed star jump in a junior school PE lesson.

Ted June 25, 20149:11 pm

I have to say, I applaud Ecuador for their kit. I’m sure FIFA laid any number of eggs upon seeing it.

Ted June 25, 20149:10 pm


Ian June 25, 20149:10 pm

Switzerland jump up to Didier Six points in the group on the live updating group table.

Ian June 25, 20149:09 pm

If I were Didier Six, I would have chosen the number 9 shirt and insisted on this being played everywhere I went:

Mark June 25, 20149:08 pm

Shaqiri is 22 years old. He’s had a hard life.

Ted June 25, 20149:08 pm

Tonight’s Ecuador team: Valencia, Valencia, Valencia, Valencia, Valencia (c), Valencia, Valencia, Valencia, Valencia, Valencia, Valencia.

Mark June 25, 20149:07 pm

And Switzerland’s Andy Read, Shaqiri, thumps them ahead from 25 yards. A cracker.

Ted June 25, 20149:06 pm

If I were Didier Six (I am, for the absolute avoidance of doubt, not Didier Six), I would have insisted on shirt number 6.

Ian June 25, 20149:06 pm

Just looked it up too. Fifteen games. Weren’t Villa completely in meltdown by about 1985?

Ted June 25, 20149:05 pm

Wikipedia say: yes. 1984/85. 15 games!

Mark June 25, 20149:05 pm

Because it was true.

Ian June 25, 20149:05 pm

Didier Six was a great, great player. Did he play very, very briefly for Aston Villa? Why do I think that was a thing?

Ian June 25, 20149:04 pm

Greatest football team of all-time, right there.

Ted June 25, 20149:03 pm

Tonight’s France team: Bats, Batisson, Bossis, Le Roux, Domergue, Fernandez, Giresse, Tigana, Platini, Lacombe, Six.

Ian June 25, 20149:02 pm

I’m “Oh Christing” Dotmund’s next big tactical innovation. If it’s stuffing the ball up a player’s shirt and then sprinting the length of the pitch AGAIN, I’ll be furious.

In other news, I prefer France in their change kit, because their blue kit is the wrong shade of blue.

Mark June 25, 20149:00 pm

Don’t remember that one. Was it on “Chinese Democracy”? Or are you thinking of “Oh Shit”? That was the Buzzcocks.

Mark June 25, 20148:58 pm

Honduras v Switzerland in the 2010 finals was so bad that ITV couldn’t (be bothered to?) find any highlights to show. Tonight will be better than that, especially if the BBC’s Steve Bower is on a mission to shoe-horn Guns ‘n’ Roses song titles into his commentary, as his opening remark “Welcome to the Jungle” suggests. If anyone goes two or three goals clear, expect “Its so easy,” to make an appearance. And I’m sure Manaus will be “Paradise City” for either team if they qualify for the last 16. Honduras are very Wigan-centric. That, in this World Cup, could mean anything.

Ian June 25, 20148:58 pm

Oh Christ.

Ted June 25, 20148:58 pm

If you’re all really lucky tonight, I might tell you all my theory about what the next big tactical innovation in world football will be

Ian June 25, 20148:58 pm

Third time in a row I’ve contrived to find a way to miss La Marseillaise, and only one of those times was FIFA’s fault.

This evening, I switched the television off by accident.


Ted June 25, 20148:57 pm


Ian June 25, 20148:56 pm


Ted June 25, 20148:55 pm


Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L’étendard sanglant est levé,
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons !
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !