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.