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After an undefeated run at the European qualifiers, Switzerland would love to extend their streak against Ecuador in their group opening match. The Swiss are the favourites to move on to the Round of 16 along with France but Ecuador have proven to be quite a challenging side against strong teams.


It is all smiles for the 2001 Champions League-winning manager Ottmat Hitzfeld as he got all hands on deck ahead of Sunday’s fixture and will be relying a lot on his defence, which is led by Juventus right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner. He will also be looking at his star midfielder Granit Xhaka to offer plenty of solutions at the centre and the wings and to also contribute to the defensive style of play thanks to his impressive pace, strength and passing skills.

The Ecuadorians, on the other hand, have not had the chance to taste victory in their warm-up matches but really made up for it with a draw against England and 2010 finalists Netherlands – although lost 3-1 to Mexico. Manager Reinaldo Rueda will be counting a lot on Manchester United right-winger and star player Antonio Valencia as well as the extremely talented Jefferson Montero who will be expected to start on the left.

Group E top seeds Switzerland will be confident of getting their 2014 World Cup tournament off to a winning start when they face Ecuador in Brasilia on Sunday.

The Swiss stormed into the top 10 of the FIFA rankings courtesy of their unbeaten qualification campaign under the guidance of experienced tactician Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Unpredictable France may be the group's main attraction, but Switzerland have been far more consistent than Les Bleus over the past 18 months and may fancy their chances of snatching top spot.

To do so, though, they will likely have to pick up maximum points against an Ecuador side that has pace and power in attack, but gaping holes at the other end to address heading into their third World Cup.

These strengths and weaknesses were evident when they held England to a 2-2 draw in their pre-tournament match in Miami a fortnight ago, during which Antonio Valencia was sent off for tussling with Raheem Sterling.

The Manchester United winger will be available this weekend, though, and will provide counter-attacking speed on the right, while the highly-rated Jefferson Montero will do the same on the other flank.

Former Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo will try to get on the end of any crosses that they can provide, but will have a tough task netting against a Swiss back line that conceded only six goals in qualifying.

In front of a sturdy back four, the familiarity of Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili and Gokhan Inler, who are all teammates at Napoli, make them equally solid. The flair comes from out wide in the form of experienced wide man Tranquillo Barnetta and reported Liverpool target, Xherdan Shaqiri of Bayern Munich.

Ecuador finished above Luis Suarez's Uruguay in qualifying, though, and will have their own ambitions of reaching the last 16 in favourable conditions, despite a poor record outside of their own borders.

The Swiss are three times quarter-finalists at the World Cup, but not since they hosted in 1954.

Recent form

Switzerland: WWDLWW

Ecuador: DLDWDD

Possible starting lineups

Switzerland: Benaglio; Lichtsteiner, Djourou, Schar, Rodriguez; Inler, Behrami, Inler; Barnetta, Shaqiri, Drmic

Ecuador: Dominguez; Ayovi, Guagua, Erazo, Paredes; Montero, Noboa, Castillo, Valencia; Caicedo, Valencia

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