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World Cup Day 4: Preview

Three more matches today, including the long-awaited debut of Argentina.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Here’s today’s preview/match thread/discussion post on Brazil 2014. Enjoy the matches!
12 noon ET:  Switzerland vs. Ecuador, Group E.
Villarreal connections:  Jefferson Montero and Luis Antonio Valencia are ex-Submariners with mixed success in their brief periods in yellow. Sure wish there had been no purchase option on the current Manchester United talisman in midfield; at least we could have pocketed Wigan’s markup. And I’ve always had a soft spot for Jeff, whose inconsistency and attractiveness on the open market made him dispensable. I’ve got an Ecuador jersey in the closet in the hopes that things go well…but I also have a now-retired Alex Frei Rennes jersey (which made it into Time magazine!).
Transfer targets:  Felipe Caicedo is rumored to be heading back to Spain, perhaps to Espanyol. I’m not sure we can offer him a starting role like the pericos, and the ex-Levante and Manchester City striker is as inconsistent as they come, but I’d love him as an alternative. Wages may be an issue though, but you’d think the same at Espanyol.
Switzerland…I’m a fan, but I’m not sure what pieces fit for Villarreal.
Quick preview:  Group E is up for grabs. The pundits seem to think that Honduras is the weakest side in the tournament, but in the conditions, who knows. The Swiss rarely concede, Ecuador should be in good form on its home continent (despite the lack of altitude), and France looks to be settling down after years of maddening inconsistency. Seems like inconsistency is the key word in this group…
Prediction:  1-1. Expect a lot of draws in Group E.

3 pm ET:  France vs. Honduras, Group E.
Villarreal connections:  Jérémy Perbet is French – maybe Euro 2016 after another couple of productive seasons in La Liga? But he’d have to stay in Spain to do that. I mentioned Rio Mavuba, the captain of pre-petrodollars Ligue 1 champions LOSC Lille, to Allen, and he drew a blank. Mavuba was a splashy Sr. Roig signing, played a small handful of matches in yellow, was loaned to Lille, and we recouped the transfer fee. So much for that.
Honduras…I’ve got nothing.
Transfer targets:  I’d like to see Villarreal look to Ligue 1 more. The high-profile Mavuba flop aside (and it was no skin off our back), there are a number of bargain talents playing in the lesser lights of the league. My adopted French team of Saint-Etienne has done a remarkable job of contributing depth players to Les Bleus.
Honduras could be a fertile market with our newfound presence in Central and South America, but many of the mainstays in La Selecta are already in Europe. We’ll have to keep an eye on the next generation.
Quick preview:  See above on Group E – anything could happen. The French are the favorites on paper perhaps, and Honduras is the whipping boy, but I can’t say that with any certainty.
Prediction:  1-1. Expect a lot of draws in Group E.

6 pm ET:  Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Group F.
Villarreal connections:  Take a bow, Mateo Musacchio. Oh that’s right, Sabella didn’t select him due to the fierce competition at his disposal at center back. If Argentina falls short, you’d expect its defense to be at fault. Our stalwart certainly could have helped.
Bosnia-Herzegovina…I’ve got nothing. But with the successes of Bojan Jokic and Aleksandar Pantic in their first seasons in yellow, and the relatively deflated Balkan transfer market, we’ll be making hay in that part of Europe in the future.
Transfer targets:  Augusto Fernández of Celta Vigo has been bandied about in Villarreal circles as a high-profile transfer target this summer. Jonathan Pereira may be used as a makeweight for the newly-minted Argentine international midfielder. Let’s hope for a solid but not too useful tournament to keep the fee down.
Bosnia-Herzegovina…we’d like Edin Dzeko, please. He absolutely killed us with Wolfsburg in the Europa League round of 32. We’d have to ship out half the team to afford his wages though.
Quick preview:  Group F – Argentina and three also-rans. If the albiceleste can’t take nine points from this group, they’re not deserving of the crown. But we’ve seen Argentina run through the group stage and fall short at the first true hurdle….France or Switzerland maybe?
Bosnia-Herzegovina will be looking to keep its goal difference in order and to take out its pent-up aggression on Iran and Nigeria to close out the group. And maybe a moment of offensive brilliance from a few flashy contributors alongside Dzeko.
Prediction:  Argentina 3-0.