While some Australians might rationalise that we’re the better team, most of these people probably haven’t watched a football match since the 2006 World Cup. Names like Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda are names people in Europe might actually recognise, and they’re predicted to go further than any other team from the Asian confederation (Iran, Australia, Korea – it’s not THAT difficult). What this actually means, however, is that they’ll finish third in their group. An accomplishment? If you’ve got low standards, sure. They might have been the second team to qualify but they’ll be one of the first out. This feeling will be rectified sometime in early 2015 when they win the Asian cup.
In all seriousness: They’ve got about as much chance of going through as Yaya Toure does of getting a birthday cake. Still, I’m often wrong.
I try to stay away from appalling stereotypes, but I hope I can be forgiven for claiming that Columbia will be full of energy – what with their primary exports of cocaine and coffee and all. Fortunately for Columbia, they’ve been landed in a group they should progress from quite easily. Unfortunately for Columbia they’ve also lost their best player – Radamel Falcao – who scored a third of their goals in qualifying. With a 38 year old center back, keep an eye out for the refreshment guy who comes out in a suit carrying a suitcase instead of in shorts with a bottle of Gatorade – or a steaming hot mug of java. If anyone on any team is to have a heart attack in the middle of a game, I vote someone from Columbia.
In all seriousness: The best poised to top the group, there’s little doubt they’ll be knocked out almost immediately in the next round. I suggest they do something to the Italians coffee.
Or Cote d’Ivore, or whatever the hell you want to call them. Having spent the last few international tournaments being drawn against some of the best teams in the world, you have to think they’d be happy with the draw given to them. With 60+ year old Drogba-saurus up front, they’ll be thankful for the lightweight defenses of their opponents. The biggest problem? Yaya Toure has officially changed his birthdate on Facebook as a test to see if anyone is paying attention. Should the national team be like his club and not wish him a Happy Birthday, expect him to kick in 5 own-goals against Japan just out of spite.
In all seriousness: Calling them a ‘dark horse’ could land me with accusations of racism, so I’ll just say that they have the potential to fly further under the radar than MH370 did and surprise a few people.
After qualifying for the tournament thanks to a playoff against the powerhouse that is Romania, Greece could be forgiven for thinking they’ve got this group in the bag. Many are lauding the Greeks ability to make opponents play for 90 minutes – but these people seem to forget that that’s the duration of a football game. It’s like the question ‘how long is a piece of string?’ – but with the much more obvious answer of ’90 minutes, duh’. The majority of them are getting on in years, too – so much so that Georgios Samaras has been kept in suspended animation since the completion of the SPL season.
In all seriousness: While Ancient Greece established civilization, democracy and all those wonderful things we hold so dear, the Ancient Greeks won’t do so well in Brazil.
Australia played a friendly against Costa Rica to celebrate the start of Ange Postecoglou’s tenure as national team manager. While some might think this speaks of how good the Australians are, beating another World Cup nation, it’s more a statement about how appalling Costa Rica are. They are the Australia of their group against the international superpowers of England, Italy and Uruguay. Unlikely to cause an upset or even score a goal. Making the US national team look good isn’t the easiest task, but Costa Rica do it with aplomb.
In all seriousness: Return flights should already be booked. At least they’ll be cheap.
You know there’s a lot of media hype around your team when newspapers go so far as to rank your wives and girlfriends in order of attractiveness, and a major talking point about your success relates to how you can handle the heat. If the ground is slightly damn Steven Gerrard might just let the World Cup slip too. Allegations that the Englands hopes rest on the mini-Shrek Wayne Rooney is surely making everyone on the team who’s name ISN’T Wayne Rooney feel like shit – but to compensate for this manager Roy Hodgson has taken all players to get their names changed to Wayne Rooney so everyone feels accountable. So watch out for Wayne Rooney, particularly if he gets the chance to feed some crosses in to Wayne Rooney. With Wayne Rooney potentially injured so close to the tournament, expect an emergency call-up for Wayne Rooney. Just don’t let Wayne Rooney take any penalties.
In all seriousness: If all the Wayne Rooneys can deal with the heat, expect the Wayne Rooneys to go alright – provided they can stay away from a penalty shootout.
Much of the press surrounding Uruguay has focused on their label as a ‘one-man team’ – with that one man being Luis Suarez. Unlike the English, who require multiple Wayne Rooneys to get the job done, Uruguay can be safe in the knowledge that, should he be fit, they only need one Luis Suarez to play both striker and goalkeeper. You have to feel for Edinson Cavani, a player just as talented as Suarez and without his penchant for racism and cannibalism. Uruguay have the kind of mentality people like me can enjoy – with that mentality being “we only need to score one more goal than the other guys do”. If they win, expect a lot of 3-2 results. If they don’t, expect Suarez to make headlines by going one step further than biting and actually performing a rimjob on the field.
In all seriousness: Can be the team that stops a traditional world power getting out of the group. Can cause upsets. Hell, they finished 4th last cup – even if all people remember is Suarez shattering the dreams of a nation (Ghana) and celebrating like a madman.
If you thought Luis Suarez was hated by everyone outside Liverpool and Uruguay, spare a thought for Italy – one of the most hated teams in World Football. They cost Australia what would have undoubtedly been a trophy in 2006 with some soft diving that even Luis Suarez would roll his eyes at, and then Materazzi said something so bad to Zinedine Zidane that he headbutted him in the chest in the middle of a World Cup final. Just like Ray Ramone – Everybody hates Italy – but that doesn’t seem to bother them much as they keep on doing well in international tournaments. While they shouldn’t be worried about England or Uruguay, their 1-1 draw with New Zealand (THAT’S RIGHT, FUCKING NEW ZEALAND) at the last World Cup should remind them that Costa Rica are the team they have to watch out for. If they start losing, just wait for the ‘Yo Mama’ (or whatever that is in Italian) insults to come out again.
In all seriousness: As always, should be seen as serious contenders. That doesn’t mean we can’t all hope a mysterious illness overcomes them all before kick-off in the first game. Except Balotelli – what’s not to like about that guy?