James M. Toppa Sr. Memorial Fantasy Football League


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2018 World Cup Preview! (Part 2)

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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2018 World Cup Preview!

Hell yes! I will do that! Thanks for suggesting that, totally real, and not at all made up person I have exchanged actual text messages from.

Soccer! Soccer! Soccer! That’s right it’s your favorite globalist-cuck’s favorite sport. The game with a set time limit and 7 rules that somehow more “wussy” than the game where you can call timeouts if the crowd gets too loud. A game where there’s not enough scoring, but a 1-0 baseball game is a “pitcher’s duel.”

The World Cup is such a wonderful time. It’s nice that in such a divided time in our country, we can put our differences behind us, all come together as a nation and root for… Brazil? Fuck!

Since the USA is not in the World Cup, you may not have been paying attention, so here’s a little preview of what’s going down for the next month. And, remember, worst case scenario: there are professional sports on TV starting at 8am everyday for the next 3 weeks.

How about we go Q & A with this preview:

What is the World Cup?  Really?! This is where we’re starting? Ground zero huh? Okay the World Cup is a soccer tournament between 32 teams from around the world.

Is it like March Madness for soccer? Well almost. It’s not a knockout tournament right away. The 32 teams are divided into 8 groups of 4, with each team playing each other team in the group. The two best teams in each group move on. Then it’s a single elimination, knockout tournament.

But unlike March Madness, there are games on EVERYDAY starting this Thursday until mid-July.

Why is it called the World Cup? Because it involves the whole World, dummy.

In my defense, the World Series doesn’t involve the whole World. This is a fair point, and I won’t hold it against you.

So you get, like, a huge cup, right? Like the Stanley Cup? See this is why I’m not holding the “World Series” thing against you, because the World Cup trophy is not cup shaped. Which is dumb, because all trophies should be able to be drunk from. Especially if you use the word “Cup” in your tournament title.

I think the old version used to be a cup:

But then they stuck a globe in it to make it really on the nose. Get it? It’s the World… in a Cup!

Who’s singing the halftime show? Oh you thought you’d get me with this one right? There’s no halftime show, but there is an official anthem:

Banger! Sounds like the song of the summer to me. And you were not mistaken. That was one, Willard Carroll Smith Jr. bringing back Big Willie Style on the world’s stage for the 2018. The whole world is watchin’, so let’s get this poppin’! Are you fired up?!

No. Tell me more about these groups. Will do!

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

Is this the Group of Death? No, unless you watch any matches from this Group, then you will feel like you are dead. This group is garbo.

Does this group have someone who bites people? What an oddly specific question. The answer is yes:

That’s Luis Suarez after he bit an Italian player on the shoulder during the last World Cup. Or as he puts it “I lost my balance … hit my face against the player, leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth.” Almost convincing!

Suarez was suspended because you could see the teeth marks in the guy’s shoulder. But the best part is, aside from the fact that Suarez has the biggest teeth on the planet, is that he has been suspended for biting other players TWO OTHER TIMES! He should be rolled onto the pitch with a face guard like Hannibal Lecter.

Who is the favorite in this Group? Uruguay. How excited are you to hear a bunch of Americans say “Oooroogwhy” for two weeks? You don’t roll your R’s every time you order a burrito from Chipotle, so please cool it on trying to sound authentic. Uruguay is lead by a two headed attack of Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Suarez scored 32 goals for Barcelona last year, and Cavani scored 38 for PSG. They’re also fun because Suarez is a nutball and Cavani is every ounce of a primadonna as he looks:

Let the meltdowns and infighting commence!

Wait, if Russia stinks, how are they seeded in this Group? Well, they’re the host country, so you get an automatic placement in one of the groups. That’s right, get ready for Fox to spend 4 weeks telling us Russia is a nice place to visit and trying to pretend they didn’t meddle in our election.

Okay, since America is not playing in the World Cup, is there a team I should root for in this group? Can I interest you in a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky, fast-as-fuck, goal-scoring Egyptian?

Rooting for Mo Salah and Egypt is the right thing to do.

Are any uniforms in this group fire? Have you been jonesing for some Color Rush since football ended? Well Saudi Arabia is here to give you your fix:

Fucking Clean! Both Home and Away Color Rush! I love it. Saudi Arabia’s team isn’t good, but like I always say: If you’re gonna be trash, may as well look good doing it. I also love that Nike was like, “What’s that NFL on FOX? You think you’re too good for Color Rush now that you have Thursday Night Football? Well, we’re going to put every single team we have in Color Rush for the World Cup. Enjoy Color Rush June!”

Who gets out of this group? Uruguay and Russia have the best odds. Uruguay will walk, but I like Egypt better than Russia. It’s totally possible that Mo Salah has 3 goals and an assist in the group stage and Egypt goes 2-0-1. If I were a betting man, Egypt’s odds to win the group at 7/1 would seem pretty tasty to me (as well as their 7/4 odds to simply get out of the group). That said, this is Russia we’re talking about, and they’re the host team. I wouldn’t put it past Putin to poison 45 members of the referees’ families and have a team of hackers fuck with the instant replay feed.

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Is this the Group of Death? Nah, Morocco and Iran are trash.

Who is the favorite in this Group? Spain. I feel like I’m not hearing enough about Spain. I hear about Brazil, Germany, France and Argentina, but there’s not too much about Spain. I think since they used to be the best team in the world for about 4 years but then crashed out of the last World Cup in such spectacular fashion (and lost in the quarterfinals of the last Euros), everybody’s writing them off. But they are still stacked with Barcelona and Real Madrid players, including their best defenders, and have the best goalkeeper in the world. (That’s not hyperbole. This isn’t Lebron vs. MJ. David De Gea is the GGOAT. Get it??) Spain can easily make it to the quarterfinals and if De Gea is standing on his head, they could win the whole thing.

Who is this Ronaldo guy? Is he even that good? Yes. Very much yes. He’s 33 and seems to be losing a step, which of course means he only scored 48 goals for club and country this year. Ronaldo used to dominate games, now his teams hang around and hang around, then he scores a goal in the 80th minute. Guaranteed this will happen twice in the World Cup and they win games they have no business winning.

And what’s with his obsession with his abs? I have no idea. I imagine if I had abs like that I’d show them off all the time too. Maybe I wouldn’t though. I am pretty #humble, afterall.

Did you say he has frosted tips but with curly hair? Yes. Apparently he’s cut it off for the World Cup. But this look was so bad, it needs to be mentioned.

Look, I don’t care how good looking you are, how much money you make, or how hot your wife is, this look should never happen. (Quickly moves on before anyone reminds me that Tom Brady once had this haircut)

Are any uniforms in this group fire? You could talk me into Spain but I’m not sold. Between Portugal, Morocco and Iran, there is a lot of red & green in this group.

Okay, since America is not playing in the World Cup, is there a team I should root for in this group? I don’t know, if you have Portuguese roots, then sure, go ahead and root for Portugal. But they play really shitty football (see “hang around” comment above). Otherwise, leave work early on Friday and enjoy the Spain-Portugal match because it’s gonna be a good one, and then forget about this group.

Who gets out of this group? Spain and Portugal. Not close. Thanks for coming Iran and Morocco.

Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

Is this Group of Death? Nope. But this group is actually better than it looks though. France has enough firepower to possibly win the whole thing. Peru and Denmark are ranked 11 & 12 in the world, so it’s gonna be a fight between the two of them to see who comes out of this group. And Australia… is where kangaroos live.

Peru and Denmark? Yeah. Just proving we have so much further to go as a soccer country when we can’t qualify but a country  known for inventing a pastry and a country being famous for having llamas can. Denmark has a player, Christian Eriksson, who also plays for Tottenham, and has never seen a 35-yard shot he doesn’t like. Threat of a golazo from 40 yards out is always fun.

Who is the favorite in this Group? France. And they’re definitely good enough to win the whole thing. They’re absolutely stacked upfront with some of the best strikers in the world (Griezmann, Mbappe and Dembele) and a pretty solid midfield as well. This team’s gonna score a lot of goals.

Does anyone in this group have an interesting goal celebration? I’m so glad you asked. Antoine Griezmann’s answers the question of what would it look like if you combined Smashmouth with the dance from “It”.

I have no idea what this dance means or how he came up with it. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen and I love every minute of it. I need someone from the NBA to steal this and do it every time they dunk on someone.

Are any uniforms in this group fire? Yes, the French kits are clean!

I didn’t think heathered jerseys would work, but it does. Give me more heathered jerseys. I must have them.

Okay, since America is not playing in the World Cup, is there a team I should root for in this group? I think France has the potential to be a lot of fun to watch. Goals are fun right?

Who gets out of this group? France obviously. Then it’s a toss up between Denmark and Peru. I happened to go to a Gold Cup match at Gillette two summers ago (no big deal) and saw Peru beat Brazil. They looked feisty. Based off of the one game I saw Peru play two years ago and having seen Denmark play exactly zero times, I think Peru will be the other team to qualify.

Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

Please tell me this is the Group of Death? It is! Argentina qualified for the World Cup on the very last day of qualification, so they’re one of the lower ranked, top-tier teams. Iceland made it to the quarterfinals of at the 2016 Euros. Croatia is ranked 20th in the world and has two of the best midfielders in the world (Modric and Rakitic). And Nigeria… has the best uniforms in the tournament.

Who is the favorite in this Group? Argentina. Any team that has this guy is gonna be the favorite:

That’s that Messi guy. I heard he’s good or something? If by “something” you mean that best in the world and possibly ever? Then yes, he’s “good or something.” Saying Messi is good at soccer is like saying Tom Brady is “good at playing quarterback” it’s true, but also not true enough. My favorite thing about Messi is he walks around the field all nonchalantly for long periods of time, but then when the ball comes close to him, he goes from 0-60 instantly, has a perfect touch on the ball and finds the perfect place to go with it.

Okay, since America is not playing in the World Cup, is there a team I should root for in this group? Can I interest you in a Skol clap? You know, the clap that starts really slow and you shout “HUUUU!!!” everytime you clap, then you clap faster and faster? You know the thing they do at Vikings games and then other teams stole it because it’s cool.

Well you know where it comes from? Actual motherfucking Vikings! Here is what looks like the entire country of Iceland doing with the Iceland National Team:

Once again the midwest has ruined another thing that’s cool. And you think it’s a joke that they’re actual Vikings, its not. Here are some of the names of Iceland players: Hannes Halldorsson, Runar Runarsson, Holmar Eyjolfsson, Hordur Magnusson, Birkir Bjarnason, and Bjorn Sigurdarson. How can you not root for something that silly and ridiculous? I feel like the Iceland national team is going to come into my house and steal my tv, my refrigerator, and my fiancé, and I’ll kinda have to be okay with all of it.

Also, you should root for Messi to win a World Cup because he’s probably the best to ever do it and his country gives him shit because they haven’t won. He doesn’t deserve that.

Are any uniforms in this group fire? Yes, all the teams in this group have great unis. Let’s start with Argentina, who’s classic blue and white stripes have been some of the best kits of all time. And their away all black uniforms are pretty fresh too.

By the way, on the right is Angel Di Maria, who, as Boom Boom points out, is one of those rare great soccer players who also happens to be an extreme uggo. I hope I am neither of those things, as I already know I’m not a great soccer player, but Boom Boom has yet to confirm whether or not I’m an uggo.

Next, we have Iceland who has a strong look.

Then there’s Croatia, who if I told you that their jerseys looked like a picnic table, you’d tell me those shits looked terrible. But you’d be wrong. For some reason the check pattern works.

Any of these kits would be the best uniform in any other group, but no uniform can win compared to Nigeria’s.

This shit is Fiyaaaaaaaahhhh!

Squiggly lime-green stripes, with other squiggly blue lines on the sleeves shouldn’t work. But fuck me, they do!! And then they go Color Rush for the away kit. Let’s go Nigeria!

The Seattle Seahawks should adopt this as their new uniform.

Who gets out of this Group? Argentina and probably Croatia. But it’s boring to go chalk, so let’s say Nigeria. Everyone else is gonna be intimidated by those unis and Nigeria will get a couple wins.

 

This is fun, but can we take a break? Yeah, I’m getting tired too. Let’s pick this up tomorrow. Groups E, F, G, & H tomorrow.


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2017 Premier League Power Ranks

It’s opening day!! I can tell by the look on your face and your silence, that you’re confused. The Barclays Premier League kicks off its season today with a match between Leicester City and Arsenal. That’s right. We’re talking English from here on out. Matches, managers, football, training, howler,… mate, and… um… meat pies.

“But Rhys,” I hear you say, “soccer is stupid.” To that, I say: Is it? Is it, really?

“Oh yeah, well what about all that flopping?” you say. You’re right. That doesn’t happen in any other sports.

By the way, when you Google “flopping gif” like 40 images show up before a single soccer flop. Also, the first 6 images are of Lebron James.

“But I think soccer is boring.” First of all, it’s sports. Anything with competition, drama and storylines is exciting. I watched professional cornhole on ESPN2 and was fucking riveted. Second, maybe YOU’RE boring. Ever think about that. Third, golf.

“But there’s ties!! I hate ties! It’s un-American!” Wanna know who liked ties? Thomas Jefferson. It’s true. The greatest American  in the history of our country enjoyed ties. Historic fact. I guess you’ll think twice now about hating ties, huh?

Also, what else are you doing? Premier League comes on at 7am on Saturday and 8am on Sunday. Football doesn’t start till noon on either day. Why not wake up, grab a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich (and a beer) and watch a little soccer first thing in the morning?

But the issue remains, who do you root for? These easiest way to get into a game is to have a favorite team and then you’ll have a rooting interest. Well, the real easiest way to have rooting interest is gambling, but I’m not here to talk about that. If you want to have a favorite team in the Premier League, the best thing to do is to just pick one. I made the mistake of trying to just watch a ton of games and have my favorite team develop organically. But that never happened. What ended up happening was I met Boom Boom, she liked soccer, there was a Liverpool bar down the street from her old apartment, and that’s where we chose to watch soccer in the morning (because I stayed the night, if you know what I mean!!). So, just pick a team and jump in.

Do you need some help picking a team? Well, I’m here to help. Here is a all 20 teams Power Ranked by whether you should root for them.

20. Arsenal

You don’t want to be an Arsenal fan. Being an Arsenal fan is like being a Cowboys fan. Arsenal fans think their team is way more important than it is, and think it is way better than it is. I mean you don’t wanna be like this guy do you?

Awwww poor baby!!

Last year was the first time in 20 years they didn’t finish in the top-4, while that’s impressive, they didn’t win a single Premier League or Champions League title for 15 years. Their coach, Arsène Wenger, is basically Marvin Lewis. He’s pretty good at his job and every year will give you a team that could possibly win it all, but of course, he never does and fans call for him to be fired because he can’t win it all.

However, Arsenal’s best player is this guy:

“Sexy Lexi” Alexis Sanchez. A couple things you need to know about him. He scored 24 goals and 10 assists last year, good for 3rd best in the league. He likes to roll up his shorts and expose his legs. I have no idea why he does this. Does this help him stay cool to expose 3 more inches of skin? Does this help him run faster or kick harder? Does he think this is cool? I must know! Lastly, his Instagram is an amazing follow. It’s basically filled with two types of photos: 1. Like the one above, exposing his legs or 2. Him with dogs:

❤️🐶🐶🍂🍁❤️

A post shared by Alexis Sanchez (@alexis_officia1) on

Also, Mesut Ozil is probably one of the best passers in the world. But still, fuck Arsenal.

19. Watford

Watford finished just 4 points clear of relegation. They had the 3rd worst goal differential in the league last year. They lost their last 6 games to close out the season and 7 of their last 10. Don’t root for this team, they’re not going to be around for long*.

*Quick note: The 3 teams to finish in the bottom of the league (Last, Laster & Lastest Place), get kicked down to a lower division. They then get replaced by 3 new teams from that lower division. This is the best way to fight tanking. You’d think twice about trusting the Process if it meant having to play in the G-League, wouldn’t you?

18. Manchester United

Cheering for Manchester United is like never watching a baseball game in your life and choosing to root for the Yankees. They’re the most valuable soccer club in the world. They’ve won the Premier League a record 20 times. They had a coach from 1986-2006, who was so good, the queen fucking KNIGHTED him! Last year they went out and signed one of the best players in all of Europe, Paul Pogba, for a then-record $123 million. This year, they went out and got maybe the best striker (or “goal scorer”) in the Premier League, Romelu Lokaku, for $88 million. Rooting for this team is like rooting for the dealer in blackjack.

Also, their current coach, Jose Mourinho, is a gigantic prick.

17. Burnley FC

Burnley lost 20 games last year and gave up the 4th-most goals in the league. I can’t name one player on their team, even after Googling “Who plays for Burnley FC?” The only cool thing about them is that their stadium is called Turf Moor. It sounds like a place in Game of Thrones.

16. Stoke City

Ah yes. Sexy, sexy Stoke. This team has got some lookers:

Here’s Charlie Adam who reminds me of every guy in a pick-up game who’s 10 years too old, so he just fouls the shit out of you the whole time. He also looks like he goes down to the pub IMMEDIATELY after the game, downs like 13 pints and then gets into a fight, all while still wearing his uniform. Then there’s this guy:

Peter Crouch, who looks to be roughly 13 feet tall and 62 pounds. Don’t forget about Joe Allen, also known as Welsh Messi:

Look at those flowing locks! He is… okay at soccer.

15. West Bromwich-Albion

The only thing I know about West Brom is they have a little bird on their Badge. They’re the type of soccer team that is somewhere between okay and not very good, but will always manage to beat your team when you think you’re supposed to win. They finished last year 12-17-9, and lost 4 of their last 5. Micho, meet your Premier League Bills.

Albion is apparently the oldest word for the island of Britain, itself. That fact, like everything about this team, is “meh.”

14. Manchester City

Rooting for Manchester City is like rooting for the Empire in Star Wars. Sure, it’s super cool in Rebel One when Darth Vader starts chopping dudes in half and using the force to throw them into the ceiling. But, you don’t want to, like, actively root for evil. So you can watch Man City, and even appreciate how goddamn good they are, but you shouldn’t to like it. Historically, Manchester City has gone up and down between the Premier League and the Championship. But in 2008, the team was bought by a Sheikh from Abu Dhabi. Fresh with that oil money, they proceeded to buy a bunch of really, really good players and have been good ever since, winning the Premier League twice within that period. They’ve made their already-good team even better by buying some key defensemen, and are favored to win the whole thing this year (+180).

Plus one of their best players is a ginger!

13. Brighton

Brighton is right on the ocean, so it’s basically the South Beach of the Premier League. Except the water is always 50 degrees and the sun never comes out. So, not at all like that. Sorry, you get no Lebron nor naked ladies. Just Fish & Chips and bad teeth.

12. Huddersfield Town

How can you not enjoy rooting for a team named “Huddersfield”? How silly and English does a town called Huddersfield sound? I hope their team nickname is the Huddersfield Udders. And their mascot is a big cow. That’d be amazing. Apparently, they’re the Terriers. And I tell you what, as a fellow Terrier, nothing puts fear in the hearts of the other team than playing the Terriers.

Huddersfield won the Championship League last year (their celebration is pictured above) in order to get promoted. There’s a chance they’ll be good enough to stick around, buuuuuut they also have the highest odds to get relegated this season. Don’t waste your time investing in a team that is probably gonna be gone next year.

11. Leicester City

Leicester City was so much more fun during their title run 2 years ago. They played incredible defense and scored exciting fast break goals. Plus, they were 5000-1 odds to win. They had no right winning all the games they won. Then last year, they lost who turned out to be their best player, N’golo Kante, a tiny French-Africa midfielder who lead the league in tackles and was in the top-10 for passes and touches. Kante went to Chelsea last year, and again was in the top-5 in tackles and passes, and helped them win the league. Leicester looks like they’re about to also lose another of their best players, Riayd Mahrez, to somewhere in Italy. He’ll take anyplace at this point. So, soon, it’ll just be this guy:

Jamie Vardy, scored 24 goals in their championship season, including a goal in a record-setting 8 games in a row, but only managed to score 13 last year. When Vardy was 20, he got in a fight at a pub and got arrested. He then was forced to wear an ankle bracelet for the entire season, even during games!

10. Swansea City

Swansea City is the only team that is from Wales. Which means saying EPL (English Premier League), is technically wrong. I thought that they ended up changing it to the BPL for British Premier League, but in fact the “B” stands for Barclays. Just another big corporation ruining everything.

Anyway, since they’re from Wales and so is my dad, I thought maybe this was a team I should root for. Turns out they stink. This would be like deciding to be an NFL fan and choosing Jacksonville as your new favorite team.

9. Everton

Everton is stuck in the higher end of the middle of the pack. They aren’t quite good enough (or rich enough) to compete with the Top 6 teams and make a run at finishing in the top 4, but they’re much better than many of the teams in the Premier League. They’re kinda like one of those NBA teams that always makes the playoffs but you know is never gonna go anywhere, like Atlanta or Portland.

They also sold they’re best player, Romelu Lokaku to Manchester United. They replaced him with Manchester United’s once-best player, Wayne Rooney. Rooney was considered one of the better players in the world, at one point, but that was a long, long, long time ago. This is like the Thunder replacing Russel Westbrook with Vince Carter. You’ve probably heard of Wayne Rooney, like 8 years ago when you happened to be watching a World Cup game on a random Saturday. Besides being the best player on a just-okay England team for the last, like, 10 years, Rooney is also famous for getting 2 hair transplants, and is STILL going bald.

8. Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace is a team in South London that is not that great. Think of them as the Premier League version of the Mets. But the reason you may want to care about them, is their coach:

Big Sam!!

Sam Allardyce’s American equivalent might be Rex Ryan. He’s jolly, funny, gregarious, likes feet. Okay, not that last part.

Big Sam is really good at taking a bad team and turning it around. He’s not quite good enough to then take that team to the top. But if your team sucks, and you just sacked your manager (or “fired your coach”), then bring in Big Sam to right the ship. That’s exactly what Palace did and managed to avoid relegation.

7. Bournemouth

This team has a great story. In 2008, they were $6 million in debt and were relegated to League Two, which is equivalent to Single A Baseball. The hero of our story is current coach, Eddie Howe. Howe is basically the Brad Stevens of the Premier League. Howe took over the team at age 31 and managed the team to a second place finish and promotion to League One. We can “yadda yadda” the part where Howe leaves and comes back, but upon coming back in 2012, he pulled the team out of the basement and got them promoted into the Championship League (the League below the Premier League). They then spent most of the 2014-2015 season at the top of the Championship table and got promoted to the Premier League in 2016.

They’ve finished about mid-table the last two years. Sadly, they don’t really have the money to go and get any superstars, so they’re not great. But they’re always competitive. Fun Fact: Their team nickname is the Cherries.

6. Newcastle United

This team has a built in beer of choice. So if you want to get up at 7:30 in the morning and just start pounding Newcastle Brown Ales and watch your team lose, that’s already what actual Newcastle United fans are doing, so you’ll fit right in.

5. Chelsea

I hate to say it, but Chelsea are basically the Patriots. They’ve won 3 of the last 8 Championships. They won the League last year by 7 points. They ended their season on a 6-game winning streak, and at one point during the season they won 13 straight. They’re absolutely loaded. They have the type of team where if one of their All Star players isn’t getting it done, they can take him off and replace him with a different All Star player. And like the Patriots, they have a great offense, and a much better than you think defense, especially when it counts.

Their coach, however, is pretty much the polar opposite of Bill Belichick:

Antonio Conte is not exactly pulling off the cut-off hoodie look. He’s the ultimate caricature of an Italian soccer coach. He couldn’t look more Italian if he was drinking chianti, smoking a cigarette and hitting on your girlfriend.

You can root for Chelsea if you like. But you have to promise me you will still hate Diego Costa. Costa is Chelsea’s center forward, and is very good. He’s also very good at being the biggest dickhead on the field.

Costa will flop, punch you in the face, yell racist things, and will somehow get YOU kicked out for all of it. Soccer folks call him an “Instigator.” I call him a “Little Bitch.”

4. West Ham United

West Ham plays in East London, which isn’t a particularly nice part of London. West Ham and their fans has a reputation for being tough and gritty. Their team name is the “Hammers” for God’s sake. They have a whole section in their Wikipedia page dedicated to hooliganism. There’ve been movies made about West Ham hooligans. Now many teams have a history of hooliganism, but West Ham feels like they kinda relish in it. Think Philly.

Before West Ham games, they play a song and the fans sing along. Many teams do this (Liverpool famously does “You’ll Never Walk Alone”). But the song West Ham sings is called “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” and then they shoot bubbles all over the stadium. It’s weird and a bit silly. It feels like the complete opposite of the tough guy persona they give off. But I’m not going to be the one who tells them that.

West Ham has moved from their old stadium, Upton Park, to London Stadium, the 2012 Olympic Stadium. Their games are a little weird to watch because there’s like 30 feet of space surrounding the pitch (or “field”) where the track used to be. It also means the fans can’t get right up in opposing players faces and scream racial epithets as easily. Such a bummer.

3. Southampton

If you get really excited by watching a team filled with young, homegrown talent over-perform, year after year, only to see those young talented players be sold to bigger clubs and be replaced by other young, homegrown talent, than this is the team for you! I present to you the Premier League Tampa Bay Rays. Southampton has one of the best Academy programs, maybe in the world. Academies are like a farm system, except they sign the kids so young, that they actually go to school there too. It’s like soccer school. I think. That’s what I imagine it to be, maybe there’s not much math happening though.

You could actually field a pretty good team with the players who have left Southampton to go to other teams, including ex-managers.

2. Liverpool

Do you love goals? I bet you do! Liverpool was 4th in the league last year in goals scored. They also gave up more goals than any other team in the Top 4. If you love seeing your team score 3 quick goals in the first 20 minutes of a game, then sweating through your shirt as you watch them give up 2 goals in the last 10 minutes, you will LOVE this team. This team is essentially the New Orleans Saints or Houston Rockets of the Premier League. The best defense is a great offense. Right? Kinda?

This team is super fun to watch. Their coach, Jürgen Klopp, employs a strategy called gegenpressing, which translates loosely to, “pressure the fuck out of the ball with all of your players, all of the time, even when their hearts are about to explode from running so much, keep pressuring the ball because then you will steal it it’s easier to score because you’re really close to their goal.” Again, loose translation. He calls it “Heavy Metal Football.” Potato-Potahdoe.

He also gets SUPER excited during games. And then after games, he goes around a hugs every single one of his players. It’s awesome. He’s a big ridiculous Teddy Bear. He’s like Pete Carroll without the exaggerated gum chewing and Trutherism.

1. Tottenham Hotspur

Now if you love goals from JUST your team, this is the team for you. No one scored more goals than Tottenham last year. But they also gave up the fewest to their opposition. They made a run at the end of the season last year, but came up short (also Chelsea just didn’t lose last year) and finished in second place. They basically brought everybody back and are gonna try and make another run at the whole thing.

This team is really fun. They’re super young and super good. They have an awesome cast of characters: The coach, Mauricio Pochettino, is like a more intense, less cuddly version of Jürgen Klopp, meaning he runs his team into the ground, gets good results but never smiles. They have, arguably, the best player who is under-23 in the world, in Dele Alli (psst, know who else is on that list??). Defender Eric Dier has one of the best nicknames in the Premier League, the Dierwolf. Harry Kane is great at scoring goals, but is also the most English-looking person in all of England. Midfielder Erik Lemela has a faux-hawk and you get to spend the whole game wondering if he’s actually wearing eyeliner or just looks like it. And last but very, very much not least, they have a Korean guy who dabs after he scores goals!

The thing you need to know in order to be a true Tottenham fan is that the team’s nickname is “Spurs.” There is never a “the” associated with “Spurs” however. If you were talking about the San Antonio Spurs, for example, you’d say, “The Spurs played the Warriors last night and Draymond Green punched Kawai Lenard in the dick.” But not with Tottenham. For them, you have to say, “Last night, Spurs played Chelsea, and Diego Costa punched Eric Dier in the dick.” Get it?

There you have it. Call out of work early, because kickoff is at 2:30pm and then we got a whole weekend’s worth of football, yeah I said it, football to watch.

Thanks for the digression, back to the NFL/Fantasy next week.


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Spotify Summer Rewind

Welcome to the Backyard Blog. These are blogs that I write during the summer, in my backyard, on the weekend, in my spare time. They might be every week. They might not. They might be good, or they might not. It’s almost like OTA’s for blogging.

Spotify has just reminded me it’s summertime with its new “Your Summer Rewind” playlist. Apparently, it’s a collection of songs that I’ve played repeatedly during the summer in the past. Nobody is better at embarrassing you than Spotify. “We’ve noticed you listen to a lot Lady Antebellum, perhaps try this…” But seeing how good this playlist is feels like the perfect topic for the Backyard Blog of the year.

Benz Friendz (Whatchatola) – Future, Andre 3000

I’m pretty sure this album came out in the summer, and this was far and away the best track on it. In case you weren’t yet aware, Andre 3000 is really good at rapping. I definitely said “until then, I’ll ride my fuckin’ bike… or walk” like 34 times a day that summer.

Changes – Faul & Wad Ad, Pnau

I find this song to be super good background music. I mean if someone were to stop and listen to it, they’d probably turn to me and be like, “Really? You like this?” But in the background during some day drinking? Solid. Also, it’s really good to run to.
And who doesn’t like little kids singing the hook? Right? Like The Wall? This is basically the same thing.

Ante Up (Robbin Hoodz Theory) – M.O.P.

Can’t imagine what I was getting up to where this was one of the songs of my summer. Was I just running around flipping over lifeguard chairs and punching aquarium attendants in the mouth for three months? Possibly.
Also, for some reason, this is the clean version from the You Got Served soundtrack. There is an emerging pattern of my incredible whiteness from this playlist.

Beat The Devil’s Tattoo – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Ever get into a band, then realize like 9 years later, they’re still putting out albums? This was my moment with B.M.R.C. I feel like this was a song in a movie, and I was like, “Oh shit! That’s them dudes I €liked in college.”
This song is good. I have nothing else.

Scenario – Remix – A Tribe Called Quest

What? This song is perfect.

Young Blood – The Naked And Famous

This song is one of my “Well, I live in Brooklyn now and hang out with a bunch of hipsters, so what can I add to this playlist that’s not 90s Hip Hop and will make me seem cool?” songs.

Alright Hear This – Beastie Boys

Goddamit! This song is so good! This is an underrated Beastie Boys song. You won’t find this on their greatest hits, but it’s fucking great.

I don’t need no magic potion,
Let me talk about backfield in motion.
My girl’s got cheeks for weeks, (and I’m happy)
You know I’m asleep like my old grandpappy

Ramble On – Led Zeppelin

This is a very good great summer song. Play it in your car with the windows down and the radio up. You will be happy.

My Silver Lining – First Aid Kit

Spotify recommended this record to me one time, and I listened to it a bunch of times because it’s super catchy. It’s got this old school country/bluegrass vibe to it that I like. It’s good. Whatever. Shut up.
The cool thing is that I completely forgot what this band was and couldn’t find them (apparently the search results for “old school country/bluegrass vibe” and “women” didn’t show the results I was looking for), but now I found them again.

Doses & Mimosas – Cherub

Who doesn’t like the idea of Doses & Mimosas? Sounds like a wonderful time. Best boozy brunch ever. I’ll pass on the champagne and cocaine though, thanks.

This song got backlash for being douchey, and it is, but it’s also catchy as fuck. Sometimes you just gotta lean into the douchebag anthems.

Breakn’ A Sweat – Skrillex, The Doors, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek

And we’ve reached the embarrassing part of the playlist. This song sucks. I’ll admit it. Skrillex is really good to work out to though. Apparently there was a summer where I was working out enough for songs like this to make it on my Summer Jamz playlist. I can’t even remember when that was. Does Skrillex make songs that are good to eat doughnuts too? That’s my workout playlist at this point.

When the Sh– Goes Down – Cypress Hill

Ni**as in Paris – Jay Z, Kanye West

This will never not be a good song. It will also never not make me want to wyle out. The only problem with this song is I can’t be in the club, go up to the DJ, and be like, “Yo, lemme hear that N-words in Paris!” I immediately have to leave for being the lamest dude there. Which is a bummer because I really wanted to hear that song.

Don’t Sweat The Technique – Eric B & Rakim

Member these guys?! You know who else is a very good rapper? Rakim. The bassline in this song is so good. You can’t help but bob your head.

Do It Again – Röyksopp & Robyn

Thanks for this one Spotify! Look, we all have that moment in the night, when we’re getting ready to go out, maybe we’ve had a couple glasses of wine, and we’re doing our hair and we just wanna kick off our shoes and dance around the apartment in our barefeet. Right? Everyone’s had that experience right?

Honestly though, Robyn is mad good. If you don’t like her, you have no joy in your life.

Callin’ Out – Lyrics Born, Joyo Velarde

This is another one that just makes me bob my head, clap along, and maybe do a little two step, which I’ve heard is a simple dance that people with rhythm can do. BABAY!

Shutterbugg – Big Boi, Cutty

PSA: Big Boi’s solo albums are FUCKING GREAT.

Headlines – Drake

Put this song on and watch everyone around you slowly start to rap along.

Kanye – Remix – sirenXX, Chainsmokers

This is another one that fits into the “what’s a hipster song I can add to this playlist” genre. I like it. It’s light. It’s fun. It’s catchy. Makes you wanna bop side to side. (Yeah, I said bop. What of it?!)

I was really worried that this song is by the Chainsmokers, because apparently they are a super lame band that everyone makes fun of. Thankfully, they just remixed this song, and it’s actually by someone name sirenXX. Instead, I can continue not knowing who the Chainsmokers are, and making fun of them when people cooler than me bring them up.

My Type – Saint Motel

That jazz band intro fires me up. This song isn’t THAT good, but once those horns come in, I’m gone! This is such a wedding song. If I were hammered, I dance the shit out of this song. And Boom Boom would be like, “How do you know all the words to this song?” and I’m like “YOU’RE JUST MY TYPE!!!!”

Trip Like I Do – The Crystal Method

The Crystal Method was my fucking shit in middle school. Thanks again, Spotify, for bringing me back to a time where I was nerding it up playing Magic the Gathering and listening to EPIC TECHNO. By the way, when did “Techno Music” become “Electronica”? Cuz their the same shit, right?
Man, there was a summer where was fucking ripped. Right? Why else would shit like this be on the “songs I listened to a lot during the summer” list? I probably made a SUPER SICK playlist for running, started it every morning, but then took a really long shit instead.

Break On Through (To The Other Side) – The Doors

I believe every good summer playlist needs a little sprinkling of Classic Rock. I can only speak for white people, but not everybody likes hip hop, not everybody likes country, but everybody likes Classic Rock.

Some Kind Of Wonderful – Reflection Eternal

I wholeheartedly believe I will be listening to Talib Kweli in 50 years when I’m in a retirement home. Nurse Robot! Put on that Black Star joint!

The Devil Is A Lie – Rick Ross, Jay Z

This is another album that dropped one summer, and I listened to this one, basically, on repeat.

  1. Jay Z’s verse is 2 Fire Emojis.
  2. But “Sippin Bordeaux out in Bordeaux” is better.
  3. When all the drums drop out but the bass drum, it’s epic.
  4. I lived in Harlem when this song came out, and dudes would just park in front of my building, open their doors and blast this song. And you know what? I couldn’t blame them.

Muerte En Hawaii – Calle 13

You want a good summer song? Take a ukulele and throw some Spanish rap on top. Boom. Close your eyes. Are you in a hammock sipping a coconut drink? Thought so.

Da Rockwilder – Method Man, Redman

It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, this song will always be a banger

Joker And The Thief – Wolfmother

This may not the best song for your Summertime BBQ playlist, but it makes me want to run through a goddamn wall.

Trap Queen – Fetty Wap

I honestly have no idea about this song. I was probably like “What’s up with this Fetty Wap character?” then listened to it 14 times trying to figure out if it’s good or not. I’m still unsure.

Stand Together – Beastie Boys

The beginning of this song is one of my favorite beginnings to a Beastie Boys song ever.

The Walker – Fitz and The Tantrums

What do you want from me? We’ve already established that I’m really, really white. But just in case you forgot, this song is here. Let’s just hope I don’t get sunburned this summer.