Sun, Jun 15, 2014 - Page 19 News List

WORLD CUP: Lichtsteiner could have his wings clipped by Ecuador

Reuters, BRASILIA

Stephan Lichtsteiner, whose marauding runs down right flank for Switzerland have earned him the nickname Forrest Gump, may find his style cramped by Ecuador’s pacey wingers in today’s World Cup match.

The Swiss rightback, who is one of his team’s most potent attacking weapons, could find himself bogged down with less-favoured defensive duties to help his side cope with the threat posed by Ecuador winger Jefferson Montero in today’s Group E match.

Lichtsteiner, who has won three successive Serie A titles with Juventus, usually plays on the right of a five-man midfield for his club, giving him more freedom for his probing runs.

However, Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld prefers him as a right-back in a 4-4-2, which against teams such as Ecuador who attack down the flanks, invariably limits his freedom to charge forward.

Today’s match will also be played at 1pm local time and, with temperatures likely to be in the mid to upper 20s Celsius, Lichtsteiner may also have to dose his energies.

“When it’s 30oC and you have to run 80m back, it’s a different story,” he said after scoring in a 2-0 friendly win over Peru on June 3.

Montero’s speed and trickery can make him unplayable on his day, although he is prone to inconsistency and frustrating tendency to go it alone.

The first-ever meeting between the two sides could be instrumental in deciding who finishes second in the group where France are seen as likely winners and Honduras are considered rank outsiders.

The Swiss side are considered one of the best the country has produced, with nearly all the players based with top Serie A or Bundesliga clubs, and have risen to an unprecedented sixth in the world rankings.

Boosted by second-generation Kosovan immigrants, they are feistier, more confident and more inventive than their predecessors, although they still find goals hard to come by and tend to win by narrow margins even against lesser opponents.

Ecuador, taking part in their third World Cup, are strong going forward, with Antonio Valencia’s darting runs providing an added threat down the right flank, but have a soft center.

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