Italy and Costa Rica is the lid lifter game today, a battle for control of Group D, but the middle clash--in Salvador--between France and Switzerland for control of Group E is quite intriguing.
France is going for increasing redemption after their 2010 disaster, which saw them melt down with on- and off-field issues in South Africa. (In fairness, it does seem like the French alternate fantastic and dreadful runs in the World Cup…1998, champions…2002, no goals scored…2006, finalists…2010, screwups.) Their 3-0 knockdown of Honduras in their opener was impressive and marked two-goal (and nearly three) scorer Karim Benzema as one to watch.
Switzerland is going into this with motivation of its own. They are coming off a thrilling stoppage time 2-1 win over Ecuador in which Haris Steferovic scored the winning tally with seconds on the clock. Often overlooked when compared with surrounding world powers Germany, France, and Italy, the Swiss want this one badly. They actually finished ahead of France in their group in 2006 in Germany, but fell flat against Ukraine in a knockout phase shootout. They know a tie does them little good for passing France as their neighbors have the edge on goal differential.
The better conditioned, less injured team should have the edge down the stretch in this one. The problem is I have no clue who that should be. But both teams should put a lot of great soccer on display nonetheless.