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Group E recap: France and Switzerland advance, Ecuador and Honduras go home

Dirty Tackle

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 25: France fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between Ecuador and France at Maracana on June 25, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

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Bucking the trend of teams from the Americas outdoing those from Europe in this World Cup, both France and Switzerland will move on to the knockout stage at the expense of outmatched Ecuador and Honduras. After winning its first two matches, a 0-0 draw with Ecuador sealed the group's top spot for France and Switzerland took second place on the final day with a 3-0 win over Honduras thanks to a hat trick from Xherdan Shaqiri. Not a bad way to bag the first three World Cup goals of your career.

Still Alive

France — What a difference four years makes. This France team is exciting, plays entertaining football and doesn't hold sit-in protests on the team bus. Against Honduras and Switzerland, the French proved they can pile on the goals and will likely have another opportunity to do so against Nigeria in the round of 16. The unity and talent are both present within this squad to make a deep run in the tournament put 2010's embarrassment firmly in the past.

Switzerland — No one was quite sure how Switzerland managed to be the seeded team in this group and many picked the team to go out early. But the Swiss survived and finished even with France on points. The Swiss will face Argentina in the round of 16, who hasn't been terribly impressive aside from Lionel Messi scoring in every match Argentina's played thus far. Could Switzerland stop Messi and actually live up to that 6th in the world ranking FIFA has somehow bestowed upon it?

Man of the Group: Karim Benzema, France. He has three goals already — one short of Messi and Neymar — but he could easily be leading the tournament if it weren't for an assortment of misfortune. Benzema endured a 15-match scoring drought last year that had his many critics questioning whether he could get the job done, but after a strong campaign for Real Madrid, he's proving that he can provide the goals.

Best Goal: Mathieu Valbuena against Switzerland. OK, so maybe it wasn't the best goal of all time, but it was celebrated with the best piggyback ride the World Cup might ever see.

Best Match: France 5-2 Switzerland. Les Bleus opened up a 5-0 lead before the Swiss finally nabbed a couple of consolation goals, so it wasn't the most competitive match, but it did show what France can do.

Deserved Better: Ecuador. Even after going a man down in the 50th minute against France when Antonio Valencia was sent off, it still charged at the opposition and threatened to score, but just didn't quite have enough to get through. Four points and three goals was good enough for Greece in Group C, but the football gods weren't having two teams reach the knockout stage with such meager offerings. Striker Enner Valencia was able to raise his international profile though and a move to the Premier League seems increasingly likely.

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