The last time Los Catrachos took the pitch on Friday, they ended one streak,and today they'll need to stop another if they have any hope of advancing to the knockout round. Carlo Costly's goal in the 31st minute against Ecuador gave Honduras their first World Cup goal since 1982. The jubulation was short-lived though as Ecuador tied up the match just three minutes later from the foot of Enner Valencia.
For a brief second it had looked like Honduras had responded just before half after Jerry Bengtson rebounded a Carlo Costly shot that he rang off the post, but Bengtson was called for a handball. The replay revealed that while Bengtson might have not handled the ball, he was offsides so in the end the goal being erased was the right call. Had Honduras had scored there it would have doubled their total of goals scored in their World Cup history. This is the third World Cup that Honduras has played in, and the only time prior that they have scored was in their first two matches of the 1982 World Cup.
The effort that Los Catrachos gave in Curitiba was respectable but they didn't quite have the offensive punch to keep pace with Ecuador, who took the lead on Enner Valencia's second goal of the match in the 65th minute. Former Ohio State Buckeye Roger Espinoza had a couple of great opportunities to score in the last quarter-hour of the match, but he didn't quite have the skill to equalize that match and earn Honduras at least a point.
The good news for Honduras today is that they'll have the services of Wilson Palacios. After earning himself two yellow cards in the first half in their first match of the World Cup against France, Palacios was banned for the match against Ecuador. The midfielder who plays his club football at Stoke City in the English Premier League will be a much needed addition to a Honduras squad has their hopes of advancing hanging by a very thin thread. While Palacios has only scored one goal while playing club football since 2007, he has notched six goals in 95 caps for Honduras. Los Catrachos will need even bit of avaliable scoring punch they have as not only will they have to beat Switzerland today, but will also need France to defeat Ecuador.
Should Honduras find a way to earn victory against Switzerland, they do have France trying to help them along at the same time. Ecuador sits four goals ahead of Honduras in terms of goal differential, but France has defeated their opponents by three goals in each of their first two matches. While it is a long shot that Honduras will have enough to move on to the knockout stage, at least they haven't been fully eliminated from moving on yet.
The second of those three goal wins by France in Brazil came at the expense of a Switzerland team that will come into Manaus searching for answers. After pulling out a miraculous stoppage time goal against Ecuador in their first match, France put the result to bed pretty early when the teams met in Salvador on Friday. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for the French in the 17th minute, and that lead double just a minute later. A turnover by Valon Behrami to Karim Benzema allowed him to find Blaise Matuidi to put France up 2-0. Mathieu Valbuena added a goal in the 40th minute to make the score 3-0 before halftime.
Things only got worse in the second half for the Swiss, as goals by Benzema and Moussa Sissoko pushed the lead to 5-0 before a Blerim Dzemaili goal off a free kick and a Granit Xhaka tally closed the final score to 5-2. Not only did the Swiss blown out, they also lost defefend Steve von Bergen in the ninth minute to a boot to the face from Olivier Giroud. von Bergen was groggy and bloodied from the incident and was subbed out for Philippe Senderos. About the only thing that went right for Switzerland in the first half was something that should have went terribly wrong when John Djourou was called for a penalty in the box which gave France a penalty kick. Karim Benzema was saved on the attempt by Diego Benaglio.
While Honduras sits at -4 in terms of goal different, Switzerland sits at just -2, so there is no chance that the Swiss are just going to roll over for Honduras. The Swiss are level with Ecuador on points after they earned the three points when the teams met in the first matchup in Group E of the World Cup. What might be going against Ottmar Hitzfeld is the climate they'll be walking into in Manaus. With the setting of the match being in the middle of the rainforest, this isn't exactly weather that they're used to playing in. Should they push across a early goal today, it could give the Swiss the boost that they need to push on in the heat and humidity that Manaus will offer.
For as little World Cup history as Honduras has, this actually won't be the first time that they have taken the pitch against Switzerland in the competition's history. Back in 2010 these two teams were placed in a group with Spain and Chile, and they squared off on the final day of Group H play. The match ended in a scoreless draw, and if that resulted is repeated today it could possibly benefit Switzerland,but in no way will help Honduras. Should either of these teams find a way to move on to the knockout stage, their opponent will be the winner of Group F, which coming into today was headed by Argentina.