James M. Toppa Sr. Memorial Fantasy Football League

2018 World Cup Preview! (Part 2)

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We’re back!! I hope you’re well rested. As promised we’ve got Groups E, F, G, & H. We’ve got some more powerhouses (Brazil & Germany), America’s team and some dark horses with an outside shot to win the whole thing. Plus Tunisia! Let’s jump into it.

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Okay, so we’ve established that Group D is the Group of Death, so this one can’t be right? Right. Groups of Death are like Highlander, there can only be one. Plus Serbia is trash, so they’re not gonna make it competitive.

Yeah, when’s the last time you thought about the country of Serbia? Hmmmm, weren’t the bad guys in “Taken” Serbian? What about “Taken 2”? “John Wick”? If not one of those, then the answer is “never.”

Who is the favorite in this Group? Brasília!!!

Joga Bonito? You’re damn right!

Put on some samba, put a tiny umbrella in your beer and watch that beautiful game.

Do you remember, when Brazil got destroyed 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals of the last World Cup? It’s okay if you don’t remember, because neither does most of this team, most of them weren’t on that side. This is a new team, and their loaded. The only question is Neymar, who’s coming off foot surgery. Neymar got a $262 million contract from PSG this summer, and then went out and proved that he was kinda totally worth it. If he’s fully fit, they can win the whole thing.

Update: I think he might be okay…

Okay, since America is not playing in the World Cup, is there a team I should root for in this group?  Well, Costa Rica is a beautiful place to visit and the people are really nice there. They’re in the USA’s group, CONCACAF, so that’s another reason. They’re also incredibly well coached, play solid defense and have one of the top goalkeepers in the world. But Brazil is waaaaaaaay more fun to watch, so let’s root for them.

Are any uniforms in this group fire? Yes, Brazil’s yellow jerseys and blue shorts are, and always will be, the best uniforms in soccer.

Even in the 90s when they had huge collars and everyone was wearing a XXXL for some reason, they were still the best.

Who gets out of this Group? Definitley not the bad guys from Taken. Brazil and Switzerland, who’s surprisingly ranked 6th in the world.

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

Who is the favorite in this Group? Defending World Cup Champions, Germany.

Germany is so boring, is there anything interesting about them? Oh ho ho. I’ve got a very tasty little nugget about Germany. How about the fact that their coach is a disgusting weirdo!!!

GROOOSSSSSSSS!!!! Tasty nugget indeed! Oh man, I think eating boogers, sniffing your armpits and then scratching your balls and smelling it is the horrible human trifecta. I’m not even sure my dog does all three of those things. How do you possibly listen to your coach after he picks his butt and eats it?!? So yeah, come for the impressive football, stay for the nasty human on the sidelines.

Doesn’t Sweden have that Zlatan guy? Yes they do, but sadly he’s old and hurt. But let’s run through some Zlatan quotes just because it’s fun.

  • “I can’t help but laugh at how perfect I am.”
  • On if he got his ex-fiancé an engagement gift: “What do you mean, ‘present?’ She got Zlatan.”
  • When moving to the French League: “It’s true I don’t know much about the players here, but they definitely know who I am.”
  • When scoring twice to qualify his team for the Euro 2016: “There was the thought that this would send me into retirement. I sent their entire country into retirement.”
  • Zlatan: “Only God knows who will go through.”  Reporter: “It’s hard to ask him.”  Zlatan: “You’re talking to him.”
  • His response when asked to name the world’s most beautiful woman:  “I haven’t met her yet. But when I do, I’ll date her.”
  • “If I had played in England I would have destroyed it, like I have everywhere else.”

Okay, since America is not playing in the World Cup, is there a team I should root for in this group? Here’s something fun: One could argue the most popular sports team in the United States is… the Mexican National Soccer Team (“El Tri”). Mexico plays more friendlies in the U.S. than in Mexico and those games are sellouts. El Tri sold out games at Levi’s Stadium and JerryWorld. On weeknights! Liga MX (the Mexican professional soccer league) consistently outdoes the Premier League in TV ratings. Maybe we should rethink that wall. Mexico, America’s Team! Plus their best player is called “Chicharito.” I got no clue what it means, but it’s fun to say.

Counterpoint: Mexico and the U.S. are fierce soccer rivals and we should (sports) hate them every time we play them. Rooting for them is like being one of those people who roots for the other teams from your division in the playoffs, even though you shit on them all season. Nope, as much as I want a Taco Truck on every corner, I can’t root for this team.

Are any uniforms in this group fire? All that said, I’m kinda feeling Mexico’s kits. Viva Mexico!

Who gets out of this Group? Mexico and Germany. They play this Sunday. That’s gonna be an awesome game.

Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

Who is the favorite in this Group? *Dark Horse Alert* Belgium. Belgium has been a “Dark Horse” to win the World Cup since 2006. That said, they have enough talent on their team to win the whole thing. They won’t, but you’re gonna hear a lot of “Watch out for Belgium!” and then they will lose in the quarterfinals.

I don’t know anything about Belgium except they have waffles. That’s okay! And I like where your head is at. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and waffles are delicious. What you need to know is, their best player is a ginger:

That’s Kevin de Bruyne, or KDB if you want to sound super, duper cool at the bar. He’s an amazing attacking midfielder, and if Mo Salah hadn’t scored like 600 goals this year, would’ve been voted the best player in the Premier League this year. He also kinda looks like Prince Harry, so you can make Royal Wedding jokes too if you want.

For $1000, if I gave you 5 tries, could you locate Tunisia on a map? Not a chance.

Okay, since America is not playing in the World Cup, is there a team I should root for in this group? England, if nothing for the schadenfreude.

If you are pining for the 90s-era Red Sox than England is the team for you. Overblown expectations? Check. A team that’s juuuust good enough to make you think those expectations might not be overblown? Check. A press corps that both loves and loathes this team? A press corps that attacks their best player so often and in such a way, that after a while it can only be described as racist? Check. And a team that always manages to lose, in many times tragic fashion? Check.

England is a hot mess. Always has been. Always will be.

The ironic thing is this year’s team is one of their best teams. And their expectations are lower than ever. It’s like everyone in the country has already prepared for not make it out of the group stage. But this team is loaded with a ton of young talent from the best clubs (Man City, United, Tottenham and Liverpool) and got rid of all the old guys (Rooney, Frank Lampard, Stevie G) who were good enough that you had to play them for the national team, but not good enough to win any games. Sound familiar? England, America’s team!

This team feels like it’s got a chance. They were one of the first teams in the world to qualify for the World Cup because they destroyed everyone in their qualifying group. They’re young with a bunch of depth. This definitely means they’ll win all three games in the group stage, not concede a goal and then lose 2-0 to Senegal in the Round of 16.

Are any uniforms in this group fire? England’s red, away uniforms are pretty solid. Their white-on-white, home kits are classy, yet boring. Like everything else in England. Heeyyoo!

Apparently, there’s controversy (which you have to say like a British person: con-TRAV-ersy) where people in England like the teams’ warm up shirts better than their actual uniforms:

This take is wrong because this jersey looks like you spilled Kool-Aid down the front of your shirt. Proving once again that people in England have terrible taste.

Who gets out of this Group? Belgium and England, but I’m not sure in what order. They play on the last day of the Group Stage, Thursday June 28th, which will probably decide who is the higher seed.

Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

Who is the favorite in this Group? *Dark Horse Alert* Colombia. Last World Cup, James Rodriguez has the goal of the tournament for Colombia:

He basically put that team on his back and brought them to the quarterfinals. Then they lost in the quarterfinals to Brazil, and he cried:

This time, the team around him is better, plus he’s been playing his club games at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. This is your “could make a lot of noise” team of the 2018 World Cup.

I think I remember that guy crying, but other than that, I know nothing about these teams.That’s okay. If you like goals, this is a group to watch. Poland has Robert Lewandowski, who scored 42 goals for Bayern Munich, the best team in Germany. Sadio Mane plays for Senegal and he scored 23 goals and had 9 assists for Liverpool. Colombia has James, as well as a number of other stars. And Japan has vending machines where you can buy porn.

Okay, since America is not playing in the World Cup, is there a team I should root for in this group? I kinda fell in love with Colombia last World Cup, especially after watching that GOLAZO! from James. I’d like to see them make another deep run. It’d be cool to see someone else win besides the same-old, same-olds. Let’s start rooting for Colombia and then if they win, you and I can say you were a fan before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon.

Are any uniforms in this group fire? Poland has gone Color Rush with that white-on-white home and all red away unis. There’s just so much white and red in this tournament that this Poland kit doesn’t give me the same Color Rush boner that other unis do. I’m actually feeling Japan’s “wait, are those fucking polka dots” jerseys.

I wouldn’t say they’re fire, but I’m into it.

Who gets out of this Group? Colombia and Poland. Poland might actually be good? I don’t recognize any other players on their roster (so many W’s, K’s and Z’s!!), but maybe Lewandowski is good enough to score a bunch of goals and keep them alive.

Group Z: Chile, Netherlands, Italy, United States of America

Just kidding, none of these teams made it. But this group would be fun as heck to watch. FIFA is the most corrupt sports organization in the world, and they could pull some strings to let these teams in? Instead, we get to enjoy Saudi Arabia, Iran, Tunisia and Panama tear it up? At least when the NCAA is corrupt as fuck, it lets its most popular teams play in March Madness when they don’t deserve to be there. Almost makes you look past the cheating, bribes, and rape cover ups.

Why did you make me go through all of that with every single group? You asked!!

Fine. Can I make money on the World Cup? What like selling shirts? Oh, you mean gambling! Not really. The odds aren’t really good enough. One of the favorites is going to win. Brazil is 4/1, Germany is 5/1 and France and Spain are both 6/1. But there’s not really a clear cut favorite out of those four. So, it’s kind of a crap shoot with four teams with low odds. Argentina is a medium shot at 10/1, so that isn’t a bad bet. They have Messi and made it to the Final 4 years ago. If you really want a long shot, Colombia at 40/1 isn’t exactly setting your money on fire; It’s more like giving it to a total stranger, telling him to buy something for you and then just watching him walk away, never to be seen again.

What should I drink during the World Cup? Well, the games start at 8am on most days, so coffee. But that’s not fun! (I do love coffee though). Budweiser is the official beer of the World Cup, so go heavy on the Bud Heavies. Be sure to mix in some Bud Light Limes or Oranges if you feel like you’ve wronged someone in your life and want to do penance for it. But let’s switch it up a bit. Here’s what you should drink based on who you’re watching:

  • Mexico: Tecate. Only suckers and gringos drink Corona.
  • Brazil: Caipirinha. It’s basically a mojito but instead of rum they use cachaça (which is very similar) and instead of soda they use more cachaça.
  • Germany: Spaten or Hofbrau. But you have to drink it out of a 2-Liter boot.
  • Spain: A pitcher of sangria. Don’t forget to eat the fruit afterwards. The doctor recommends 4 servings of fruit per day, but they don’t stipulate that it can’t be soaked in booze beforehand.
  • Argentina: A bottle of Malbec and a 14oz steak.
  • France: Kronenbourg 1664. Fun Fact: Kronenbourg has a giant “1664” on the label, to commemorate when the brewery was founded. My uncle told me, in England, you can just say “Gimme a pint of numbers,” and they’ll give you a Kronenbourg. I thought this was the coolest thing in the world when I heard it. I realize now, this is like going into a bar and ordering a “Silver Bullet.” But to be fair, if I told my uncle that’s how we order Coors Light, he’d probably think that was pretty dope.
  • Colombia: Just tons and tons of cocaine.
  • England: London Pride, the UK’s best-selling beer. Plus, it’s Pride Month, so you get points there too.
  • Costa Rica: Imperial Beer. I can’t say this beer will taste good on your couch, but on a beach, ICE-COLD, it’s goddamn delicious.
  • Iceland: Reyka vodka, tons of ice and a scoop of dirt. Get it? Ice and land.

Okay, okay.  Just tell me who wins the whole thing? I don’t really know. It’s a toss up between Germany, France, Brazil and Spain. But also Argentina, Colombia, and Belgium have realistic shots. And Portugal has Ronaldo. But I’m gonna say, fuck it, Brazil’s gonna win. They beat Germany in the Final (Revenge Game!) 2-1.

 

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