Los Catrachos come into today's matchup ranked 33rd in FIFA's rankings, and many aren't giving them much of a chance to move beyond the group stage in Brazil. This is the third time ever that Honduras has qualified for the World Cup, and they have gone winless in their previous six matches. This marks the second straight World Cup that Honduras has qualified for the tournament. In 2010 Honduras was matched in a group with Spain, Chile, and Switzerland, who also were drawn into Group E this year.
While his team may have never had any experience in advancing beyond the group stage in the World Cup, Honduras' manager Luis Fernando Suarez does. Back in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Suarez was able to help lead Ecuador advance to the knockout stage. Suarez has his work cut out for him if he wants to lead Honduras to the same fate, as Los Catrachos possess a solid defense, but their offensive deficiencies could hold them back. Up top for Honduras figures to be strikers Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengston. To any MLS fans Bengston's name might sound familiar as he currently is a member of the New England Revolution.
The most familiar name in this match to Buckeye fans will be Roger Espinoza. A couple weeks ago we took a look at Espinoza's short time in Columbus to where he is now as a member of Wigan Athletic and the Honduran National Team. The role Espinoza will play will be key to Honduras' hopes these next few weeks. Espinoza will be counted on to keep order in the midfield on the defense end and let Honduras keep possession. The more that Los Catrachos are able to keep the ball from the dangerous French attack, the better the chance they'll have in earning a result in Porto Alegre.
France took a blow shortly before the World Cup when it was announced that Franck Ribery wouldn't be avaliable during the competition due to a back injury. Honduras won't be able to breathe easy though, as France still has numerous playmakers that could help Les Bleus make a deep run in Brazil. Didier Deschamps squad will be trying to put the failings of the 2010 World Cup, when Raymond Domench was at the helm, behind them. In qualifying for the World Cup the only loss that France suffered was to Spain, but the French were still forced to head to a playoff to earn their spot in Brazil. After falling behind in the first leg 2-0 to Ukraine, Les Bleus were able to squeak out a 3-0 win in Paris to clinch their spot.
One of the French players that many have tabbed as a player to watch during the World Cup is 21-year old Paul Pogba. The midfielder who plays his club football at Juventus has already put together a hefty highlight reel, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see it grow during the World Cup. Pogba will likely team with Yohan Cabaye in the midfield to try and set the table for forwards Karim Benzema, Loic Remy, and Olivier Giroud. If one of their World Cup tune-ups is any indication, the teams in Group E better be on top of their game defensively, as France put in eight goals against Jamaica.
The dream scenario for Honduras would be for them to somehow find a way to an early lead and put some doubt in Les Bleus. Los Catrachos can't afford to get into a high-scoring game against France, as they just won't have enough firepower to be able to keep up. A draw for Honduras in this matchup would be huge, while for France it would start the questions on if they might be in store for another 2010.