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Honduras

Matchday 14: Messi, Argentina in round of 16

Five Aside
Read

Despite losses, Honduras holding on

Honduras
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Honduras' prediction: Group stage

Honduras
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Honduras' World Cup predictions

A look inside Honduras' preparation for a third World Cup.

After four years of waiting, the time has come. Another World Cup is here, and our bloggers across all 32 competing countries have each predicted the fate that awaits their team. The country's Outlook gives a general view of its situation ahead of the tournament, while Pitfalls takes a look at any potential problems. Each blogger will also predict the top scorer and breakout star and suggest how far that nation can go.

OUTLOOK

Honduran morale has lifted tenfold and headlines in the press are positive again following their 0-0 draw in the final friendly against England, returning to pretty much how it was before the previous two friendlies. Consecutive losses to Turkey (2-0) and Israel (4-2) had left Hondurans questioning their players' attitudes, their leaky defence and the team's ability to play at the highest level.

Now Hondurans are wearing their shirts with pride again, happy to see their team play as a unit against a football superpower and hopeful the players can still cause a shock. Key midfielders Boniek Garcia and Luis Garrido seem to have gotten over their knocks, and confidence is high going into the tournament.

PITFALLS

Apart from the game against England, the defence has looked weak. It was regarded as quite strong throughout the qualifying rounds, remaining compact and difficult to play against. There were many plaudits for the partnership of the towering Muma Bernardez and the agile Maynor Figueroa, who complement each other well but can switch off at times, as they did against Israel and Brazil recently. Right-back Brayan Beckeles has looked shaky, earning a red card against England for two reckless challenges. Backup defenders Juan Pablo Montes and Osman Chavez have also seemed unreliable.

In defensive midfield, Honduras are well stocked with players such as Wilson Palacios, Luis Garrido, Jorge Claros and Edder Delgado. However, an overreliance on holding midfielders sacrifices Honduras' creativity in the final third of the pitch. Coach Luis Suarez has remained faithful to a rather dated 4-4-2 lineup, and it could be argued, due to the types of players he has, that he should revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation, using two defensive midfielders and allowing Roger Espinoza, Garcia, Andy Najar, Mario Martinez or Marvin Chavez to assist the lone man up front. But Suarez is unlikely to change his system so close to the World Cup.

STAR SCORER

If Honduras' creative players can thread the ball through to Carlo Costly, he will cause problems either by scoring himself or creating opportunities for Jerry Bengtson, who scored nine goals in 12 qualifying matches for the Catrachos. Costly, while being strong and bulky, is deceptively skillful and very fast. He has a calm composure in front of goal, and the team feels more confident when he is on the pitch. Costly will not score a ton of goals, but when Honduras do attack, be sure that he will have something to do with it.

Striker Carlo Costly is sure to have a hand in any scoring chance for Honduras.
Striker Carlo Costly is sure to have a hand in any scoring chance for Honduras.

WILD CARD

One player everyone has a lot of hopes for -- not just for this World Cup but for many years to come -- is Najar. He is a deft little winger -- tricky, skillful and hard to mark. He can move into the box, cut defences apart with a pass or a snapping shot and play right-wing, midfield or right-back.

The 21-year-old moved to the U.S. when he was 13, started as an amateur and rose through the DC United ranks, where in 2010 he was named MLS Rookie of the Year. In 2013, he moved to Anderlecht and has made quite a name for himself, gaining Champions League experience and catching the eye of Europe's elite. He was also a part of the young Catrachos squad that did well at the 2012 Olympics in London and scored the all-important winner in July 2013 when Honduras beat bitter rival Costa Rica in the qualifying rounds.

PREDICTION: Group stage

They are the underdog of Group E, but Honduras will be content with that. When they are expected to lose, they can surpass their own expectations and get some quite amazing results. The hot climate is on their side, especially against the Swiss and French, where Honduras can sit back, wait until their European opponents are exhausted and then go on the attack, as they did in the qualifiers when they defeated the U.S. in San Pedro Sula. If Honduras get knocked out in the first round, nobody will be surprised, but the fans would love their team to put out a couple of brave performances, score a couple of goals and maybe cause a shock, which they are capable of doing. If they do, they could sneak into second place.