Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Passion of Lovers World Cup Special

Phil's Guide to the World Cup

For my final excursion into the world of football until August (probably), I thought I'd have a look at the World Cup and the teams involved.

Group 1

France

What I know about the team: Winners in 1998 (at home, like us and have consistently, apart from one tournament, like us, been perennial under performers). Have lots of aged players who were pretty good in 1998, but tend to be a little wooden now. Have some good young players, but they don’t appear to be going to South Africa.

What I know about the country: Good wine (allegedly), good food (alledgedly), antisocial people (probably), Disneyland Paris, lots of history and nudity.

Star Player? Possibly Chamakh, he might score a goal or two.

Manager? Raymond Dominech is the most unpopular person in France since WW2; his has the footballing acumen of Phil Brown and the respect of his wife (allegedly)

Chances? Like the Germans there is a sense of reticence about writing them off. If they get through the group stage then QFinalists.

Entertainment Rating: Could be car crash TV, equally could be really dull and produce the least goals in the tournament.

Mexico

What I know about the team: Giovanni Dos Santos, ex-Spurs, is regarded as something of a Mexican Pele by people who live in Mexico. Ranked really highly in the world on the basis they play rubbish teams. Managed once by Sven, he flopped really badly there for over £100K a week.

What I know about the country: Tortillas, chili, Acapulco Gold, jalapenos, smog, tequila, Baja, Tijuana, Herb Alpert, Cheech Marin and hairy women.

Star Player? Giovanni Dos Santos

Manager? Javier Aguirre replaced Sven and the team started beating all the rubbish teams around them again.

Chances? Will flatter to deceive.

Entertainment Rating: Their mix of South American flair and Non-league ability will always be worth a watch, especially if there’s nothing on BBC2.

South Africa

What I know about the team: Bafana Bafana – the worst team in the competition and if they perform like they have at times probably the first team to be eliminated (it is more than possible).

What I know about the country: Nelson Mandela, apartheid, red bush tea, ‘Git owt off the wee blick min’, Cape Town, Durban Poison and District 9.

Star Player? Steven Pienaar of Everton but probably a different club after the WC.

Manager? Carlos Alberto Parreira, a WC winner with Brazil and the man who appears to have got the team playing like a team again. Will big up their chances, even if they need to win their last match 22-0.

Chances? Zilch

Entertainment Rating: Could possibly lead to embarrassing scenes for the hosts.

Uruguay

What I know about the team: They have Diego Forlorn in it. He used to miss lots of opportunities for Man U a few years back. Gus Poyet is also Uruguayan, but he’s the manager of Walsall or something now. Once the dirtiest team in the world (and they might not have been very clean either). This team has Diego Forlorn in it…

What I know about the country: It’s this little place stuck between Brazil and Argentina, like a sock stuffed into the mouth of a nagging kidnap victim. Montevideo and not a lot that isn’t done in the two aforementioned countries.

Star Player? Diego Forlorn

Manager? I know nothing about Oscar Tabarez at all.

Chances? Better than South Africa’s, but not much.

Entertainment Rating: Dull and laborious.


Group 2

Argentina

What I know about the team: They won two WCs, one by cheating. Not as good as they used to be and now packed with players you haven’t heard of, oh and some bloke called Lionel Messi, so if he decides to turn up we’re all doomed.

What I know about the country: that it’s a weird place logistically and politically. Buenos Ares is arguably the largest city on the planet, it appears to span most of the north of the country now with places over 100 miles from its centre being classed as within the city limits. Gauchos, pampas grass, Patagonia, the closest thing that Wales have to a representative in the competition.

Star Player? Messi – nuff said.

Manager? Diego Maradonna – the twat of God who once had the hand of god and now has assembled a team that only seem to play when no one is watching them.

Chances? Slim unless Messi takes it by the scruff of the neck.

Entertainment Rating: high – in a group they should win easily, it could be really nail-biting.

Greece

What I know about the team: lots of journeymen lower league and fringe players who are capable of upsetting all the odds – play well as a team, apart from that nothing.

What I know about the country: will probably struggle to pay for the team to go and if they win would not be able to afford to throw a party. The Acropolis, birth place of democracy, Athens, beaches, semi-naked sun burnt Brits, Aya Napa, Crete, Jason & The Argonauts, etc etc etc

Star Player? I have absolutely no idea.

Manager? Otto Rehhagel, a German (or maybe Austrian) who has a reputation for getting the best out of his players, even if he looks a bit weird.

Chances? The same as they were for Euro 2004

Entertainment Rating: Not entertaining unless you enjoy watching Burnley

Nigeria

What I know about the team: Jay Jay Okocha is probably too old now, Kanu can’t surely be going and Yakubu only performs in warm weather – so this being South Africa in the winter…

What I know about the country: Oil, dictatorships, human rights problems, massive wealth disparity, Africa, Lagos.

Star Player? They’re all stars in Lagos!

Manager? Lars Lagerback is obviously not Nigerian, he’s Swedish and has a funky name.

Chances? Should get out of this group.

Entertainment Rating: The least entertaining of the African nations statistically, so expect them to shine.

South Korea

What I know about the team: Spurs had a left back from South Korea, once: Lee Pyo Young, he might still be in the team. Bolton have a talented player, don’t know if he’s going.

What I know about the country: They bloody eat dogs!

Star Player? Ahem… They’re all stars in Seoul.

Manager? Huh Jung-Moo – get in there! What a great name.

Chances? Nothing like the last time they were here.

Entertainment Rating: Do you like Antiques Roadshow or does it make you sleep?

Group 4

Australia

What I know about the team: The best player ever in Australian history – Harry Kewel – has been injured since 1937, he’s unlikely to feature here either. They have (or had) a player called Vince Grella – what a great name!

What I know about the country: There are things that kill you everywhere, Ozzies are loathsome and hopefully won’t win anything to inflate their already hoisted petards any more. Ayers Rock isn’t called that any longer. Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Queensland – yet it isn’t the gay capital of Australia and yes, of course, kangaroos, koalas, wombats and barbecues.

Star Player? Is injured.

Manager? Pim Verbeek – yeah, that’s what I thought.

Chances? Slim

Entertainment Rating: colourful

Germany

What I know about the team: Hack-ptui.

What I know about the country: sauerkraut, sausages, lederhosen, Hitler, Fawlty Towers, Munich, Berlin, Blue Nun (which sounds so interesting, but isn’t) and lager.

Star Player? Bastian Schweinsteiger ­– babelfish his surname

Manager? Jocham Low – looks like a 1960s art photographer.

Chances? Very high. They piss everyone off at major tournaments by being spectacularly efficient.

Entertainment Rating: None whatsoever unless they’re being beaten heavily by Ghana.

Ghana

What I know about the team: Their star player might be injured.

What I know about the country: It’s in Africa and I went to school with a kid called Martin Addo, he was from Ghana. Yams.

Star Player? is injured

Manager? Milovan Rajevac – see Australia

Chances? As good as Portsmouth’s chances of survival in the EPL after the points deduction.

Entertainment Rating: bright green and crazy

Serbia

What I know about the team: I know more about American Samoa (they lost 0-37 the other week, not their worst defeat by a long shot).

What I know about the country: It is a Balkan country and was once part of Yugoslavia. Um… Sarajevo?

Star Player? Someone whose name ends in ic

Manager? I certainly hope so.

Chances? Unlikely, but pretty much unknown.

Entertainment Rating: Play spot the beard or beetroot.

Group 5

Cameroon

What I know about the team: Had a guy called Roger Milla play for them once – he was a King of the Road if there ever was. Play in red and green, I think, so mix that with that god awful buzzing sound the locals make and you’ll be grateful you didn’t have that extra pint the night before their game. Sebastian Bassong of the mighty Spurs.

What I know about the country: I used to pride myself on my knowledge of foreign countries…

Star Player? There’s obviously one young man who is idolized by the country’s nubile young virgins.

Manager? I sincerely hope so.

Chances? Could Abba ever have another number 1 unless one of them dies?

Entertainment Rating: They play in red and green!

Denmark

What I know about the team: The names Olsen (or variations), Jensen (or variations) and those umlaut things appear quite a lot.

What I know about the country: herrings, bacon, lager, Copenhagen, probably, Tove Janson.

Star Player? Someone whose name ends in ‘son’, ‘sen’ or some variation.

Manager? Someone whose name ends in ‘son’, ‘sen’ or some variation.

Chances? Write them off at your peril, should squeeze through to the knockout and then it really depends if their opponents turn up.

Entertainment Rating: Like watching old episodes of ‘The Adventures of Thor Heyerdahl’.

Netherlands

What I know about the team: Orange, skillful, scary when on form.

What I know about the country: flat, tulips, drugs, prossies, Rotterdam, Martin Jol, hydroponics and bicycles.

Star Player? Possibly Wesley Sneijder

Manager? Bert Van Marwijk – famous for being Mr & Mrs Marwijk’s little boy.

Chances? A good bet but… it’s the Dutch, they always flatter to deceive.

Entertainment Rating: Edge of seat stuff.

Japan

What I know about the team: Much less than I know about Serbia.

What I know about the country: sushi, geisha, manga, anime, kon ishi wa, whales, blow fish, censored pubic hair, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Pearl Harbour.

Star Player? Wouldn’t mean much to us even if I knew his name.

Manager? Not Gary Lineker.

Chances? A toss up between them and me getting a blow job from Samantha Cameron while she’s giving birth to the antichrist.

Entertainment Rating: Special mention for the game with Denmark – this will be the first game where spectators rip their own eyes out with spoons.

Group 6

Italy

What I know about the team: World Champions. No Totti – that’s Francesco not women. A mix of age and not so old, I believe the goalkeeper got a telegram from the queen; he’s one of the kids in the team.

What I know about the country: Pizza, pasta, Mussolini, everything the French do but with less class. Milan, Rome, the Pope and the nationality of the manager of the England team.

Star Player? Isn’t going, so pick any one from four or five.

Manager? Marcello Lippi – either a genius or another also ran

Chances? Very good.

Entertainment Rating: potentially embarrassing as they have a dismal record against poor teams.

New Zealand

What I know about the team: Ryan Nelson and a bunch of 2nd, 3rd and Eridivision league players.

What I know about the country: That I’d move there given half the chance; the home of the Lord of the Rings films, considerably better at Rugby, Cricket and kiwi hunting than football.

Star Player? Probably Ryan Nelson.

Manager? Ricki Herbert – who sounds like he’s a part time night club singer.

Chances? I stand more chance, me and a bunch of 50 something mates, with prosthetic limbs, very drunk and on hallucinogenic drugs.

Entertainment Rating: the matches might have a lot of goals in them.

Paraguay

What I know about the team: Absolutely nothing apart from Roque Santa Cruz who sits on the Citeh bench keeping his buttocks flat.

What I know about the country: The only other landlocked country in South America, although actually it isn’t because of some big river, and when I say big I mean as wide as London, not the Thames.

Star Player? Roque Santa Cruz

Manager? Gerado Martino sounds like Ricki Herbert’s warm up act.

Chances? They’re South American, they have flair, skill, ability and no chance.

Entertainment Rating: When they played England at the last WC it was one of the most dull games of football ever.

Slovakia

What I know about the team: Nothing.

What I know about the country: Nothing.

Star Player? Who knows?

Manager? Vladimir Weiss

Chances? Slim

Entertainment Rating: doubtful

Group 7

Brazil

What I know about the team: Ha, you’re having a laugh?

What I know about the country: Copacabana, Rio, bottoms, favellas, barrios, beaches, bums, salsa, carnival, rain forests, the Amazon, Sao Paolo and big bottoms.

Star Player? All of them.

Manager? Dunga – a man not a pile of shit.

Chances? Favourites.

Entertainment Rating: in footballing terms its like having sex with someone you really fancy.

Ivory Coast

What I know about the team: Didier Drogba, man who scores lots of goals and others like Didier Zokora and Didier Dodardodardai.

What I know about the country: African coastal country and other stuff.

Star Player? Didier Drogba

Manager? Some geeza called Sven.

Chances? Group of death, if they get out of this they might do well.

Entertainment Rating: high, but they’re in the group of death – either brilliant or nail-bitingly boring.

North Korea

What I know about the team: Nothing, it’s a secret.

What I know about the country: Nothing, it’s a secret; communist.

Star Player? They’re all stars in the eyes of the Chairman.

Manager? The people of the republic

Chances? As good as it was in 1966.

Entertainment Rating: None whatsoever – they eat dogs, switch off.

Portugal

What I know about the team: Cristiano Ronaldo and the others who make up the numbers.

What I know about the country: Our friend, holiday destination for losing your children, the Algarve, Lisbon, Porto and Spain’s next door neighbour – they don’t like each other.

Star Player? Aforementioned Ronaldo bloke.

Manager? Carlos Queiroz – SAF’s #2 for donkeys.

Chances? Group of death blah blah blah…

Entertainment Rating: should be a mix of Premier league and dog’s dinner.

Group 8

Chile

What I know about the team: Claudio Brava (and I got that from Wikipedia)

What I know about the country: Lots, but that’s because I have a book in front of me. Lima, the Andes, Llamas and that Attacama desert place.

Star Player? Probably Claudio Brava

Manager? Marcelo Bielsa – who’s been here before

Chances? Very little

Entertainment Rating: very unlikely despite being from South America – that doesn’t always automatically mean quality.

Honduras

What I know about the team: Wilson Palacios and probably his brother.

What I know about the country: It’s in Central America and they speak English a lot. Tax Haven.

Star Player? Wilson Palacios

Manager? Reinaldo Reuda

Chances? None, none whatsoever.

Entertainment Rating: If there’s nothing on and the Chile game is on, you can watch and be entertained by something.

Spain

What I know about the team: Very, very good. Two star players both injured – Torres and Fabregas, but will probably feature. Have always flattered to deceive until the last Euros which they walked through with ease.

What I know about the country: Paella, cerveza, Barcelona, Madrid, Torremalinos (sp) and a king

Star Player? Are both struggling to be fit.

Manager? Is a racist.

Chances? My tip.

Entertainment Rating: As good as Brazil and Barnsley.

Switzerland

What I know about the team: resilient, lacking in flair, a sort of Stoke of world football.

What I know about the country: money, gold, chocolate, cuckoo clocks, Alps, skiing, Berne, Basle, Geneva and neutrality.

Star Player? Phil Collins or Frei

Manager? Ottmar Hitzfeld, who I think you’ll find has form.

Chances? Not in the frame, despite chances against two of the three teams in this group.

Entertainment Rating: sex with your 80-year-old neighbour will seem more preferable.

And the all important group, the one with England in it:

Group 3

Algeria

What I know about the team: Someone from the Algerian team scored on the final day of the season. They are considerably better than every one thinks they are and are consistent in the, at times, inconsistent African cup of Nations.

What I know about the country: lots of desert, Algerians

Star Player? Yazid Mansouri, you know him? He was that bloke. You know the one? Algerian.

Manager? Rabah Saadane, which is his name and not the national dish of Algeria

Chances? Like I said, better than people think; surprise qualifiers or everybody’s whipping boys – who can say?

Entertainment Rating: Depends really on the result against us.

Slovenia

What I know about the team: see Slovakia

What I know about the country: see above

Star Player? And above again

Manager? I have been assured they do have a manager and he likes herrings.

Chances? We’ve already beaten them in a friendly with half the team replaced by inflatable Wayne Rooneys.

Entertainment Rating: See Algeria.

USA

What I know about the team: Clint Dempsey, Brad Freidel, Landon Donovan, but not Freddy Adu. Accomplished and workmanlike, with a little bit of flair and a toughness to beat – they are Everton.

What I know about the country: fat bastards, Jesus freaks, cowboys, Native Americans, Detroit, Springfield, Barrack Obama (that is how you spell it?) and enough crap to fill a further 40,000 pages and still not even scratch the surface.

Star Player? Tough one; all of them work well together. Donovan could be a handful against us.

Manager? Bob Bradley (whatever happened to Bruce Arena?)

Chances? Should join England in the knockout

Entertainment Rating: rarely sets pulses going; their games will be a bit like Bolton versus Everton matches.

England

What I know about the team: Ancient goalkeeper, mercenary red shite glory hunting past his best retired defender, man with no knees, two defenders with clunge addictions, a Twitter, a thug, a man mountain, Shrek, a praying mantis, a little man who runs like he’s gay, a big black man who struggles to stand up and a wee black man who seems to have forgotten how to play just when he needs to.

What I know about the country: we have a ConDem coalition; most people are arseholes, hidden costs, York, Frinton, black pudding, badgers, beer and fat girls in the wrong clothes.

Star Player? Wayne Rooney

Manager? Fabio Capello

Chances? If we don’t lose on penalties in the semi-finals I’ll be really disappointed.

Entertainment Rating: zero – when is watching England ever entertaining?


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