After the performance turned in by Ron Vlaar for the Netherlands in their 5-1 demolition of defending World Champion Spain, the bar for Aston Villa players has been set very, very high. It was the kind of showing that was simultaneously thrilling and terrifying to watch; thrilling because it was wonderful to see Villa represented so well by its captain on the grandest stage, and terrifying because players that perform so brilliantly in the World Cup tend to attract the attention of other clubs. Now, it's Philippe Senderos' turn to put himself in the spotlight in a similar fashion as Switzerland get set to take on Ecuador.
Ha, just kidding. While Vlaar is one of the first names on the teamsheet for the Netherlands, Senderos is less of a sure thing for Switzerland. Villa's first summer signing started just one game during La Nati's qualifying campaign, and Ottmar Hitzfeld's team selection during his team's two warm-up friendlies doesn't offer much of a clue as to which centerback pairing will take the pitch against Ecuador. Still, the smart money seems to be betting that it will be Johan Djourou and Steve von Bergen.
That means Villa fans will have to wait just a bit longer to get a fresh look at Senderos, but take heart! Even if Philippe isn't on the pitch for the Swiss, they're still an incredibly fun team to watch. Hitzfeld sets up his side to counter, counter, counter, and they're quite good at it. Their front four of Xerdan Shaqiri, Valentin Stocker, Granit Xhaka, and Josip Drmic are very young, but they're also very, very good. Gökhan İnler, Stephan Lichsteiner, Diego Benaglio, and the aforementioned von Bergen bring experience to an otherwise precocious side, and though Switzerland's FIFA of ranking of 6 is...a bit much, this is easily a team that could make a surprise run deep into the tournament.
Switzerland are rightful favorites, but Ecuador are as tough of a trap team as you'll find in this tournament. Antonio Valencia, Felipe Caicedo and Jefferson Montero are all players to watch, with Montero and Valencia in particular the kind of wide attacking threats that could cause problems for Switzerland's attacking fullbacks. Should Senderos get the start, he'll likely be tasked with keeping the big striker Caicedo under control, a task that should not be envied in the least.
Switzerland-Ecuador is the first match of the day and the opener for Group E, kick off at 8 PM UK time. Anything but a win for Switzerland could be trouble, especially if Honduras manage to pull out a shock result against France in the day's second game. LiveSoccerTV has your television listings covered, and we'll be talking about this game and all of the others in our open World Cup thread.