A look at the teams competing in Group E at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil:




FIFA world ranking: 26.

Last World Cup: 2006.

Best World Cup finish: Round of 16 (2006).

How qualified: CONMEBOL round-robin, fourth place.

It's a fact: Ecuador retired the No. 11 jersey of Christian "Chucho" Benitez and dedicated its World Cup effort to the charismatic striker, who died from cardiac arrest while playing for Qatari club El Jaish last summer.

The skinny: Ecuador has qualified for three of the last four World Cups, which led an excited Coach Reinaldo Rueda to say he wants to go to the final this summer. In that case he'd better buy a ticket because for all its accomplishments Ecuador is facing too many obstacles to success in Brazil. Benitez was its leading scorer, defender Jayro Campos is out with an injury and now midfielder Segundo Castillo appears to be out as well after injuring his right knee last Saturday in a loss to Mexico. That leaves Ecuador depending largely on Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia.


FIFA world ranking: 17.

Last World Cup: 2010.

Best World Cup finish: Champion (1998).

How qualified: Beat Ukraine in UEFA playoff.

It's a fact: France's Lucien Laurent scored the first goal in World Cup history 19 minutes into a 4-1 win over Mexico in the 1930 tournament's opening game in Uruguay.

The skinny: If the French can't reach the semifinals, they'd rather not hang around. At least that's been their World Cup history: five times they've made the Final Four, but on the other 11 occasions since World War II they've gone out in the group stage or failed to qualify for the tournament. C'est la vie. This could be the year that pattern ends, though. Because while the team should cruise through group play even without midfielder Franck Ribery, who will miss the tournament because of a bad back, France isn't likely to go much further.


FIFA world ranking: 33.

Last World Cup: 2010.