Alcoholics Guide To The World Cup – Group C

Last time we suggested the thrillingly transgressive idea of denouncing Spain for the sake of it, and that the team of choice for the sophisticate had to be the Netherlands.

But Group C is a far trickier proposition because I say it is.

Colombia

Pele predictably predicted a World Cup trophy for Colombia last time they graced the tournament in 1994. Predictably, Colombia failed to get past the group stage.

Their first setback for this year’s competition came when legendary hairstyle Carlos Valderrama stopped playing for them in 1998.

Their second setback came when scorpion kicking, goalkeeping sweeper René ‘El Loco’ Higuita stopped playing for them some time in 1999. To be fair, entertaining as he was, he was probably a bit of a liability if we’re being brutally honest.

Colombia suffered yet another setback back in January when apex predator Radamel Falcao got a nasty booboo on his knee playing for Ligue 1 club AS Monaco (based in Monaco, which is like France but with less tax).

But Falcao’s a goal hungry man-beast and it’ll take more than a long-term, career-threatening, heavily-hyphenated injury to keep him from the contest, especially now he’s been called up and everything. Nevertheless, such a heavily-hyphenated injury means that he might rule himself out of contention, after all.

Accordingly, manager José Pékerman has called up a further 5 strikers in his provisional squad. The only one I’ve seen playing is Bacca of Sevilla, who was…not great… in the recent Europa League final against Benfica. Or there’s Jackson Martinez, the 2-footed goal thief from FC Porto with 8 goals in 26 appearances for his national side, but I haven’t half-assed my way through any games featuring him or played Pro Evolution Soccer in donkey’s years. That’s some rigorous, scientific analysis right there.

I appreciate that FIFA might be the better game these days, but fiercely irrational tribal loyalties is what football is all about.

Anyway, Falcao’s erstwhile strike partner during qualifying, Guttierez, may have to shoulder the burden of doing goals for the team as a lone wolf striker. He does his professional footballer-ing for River Plate in Argentina, which is nothing like France.

Further back, the likes of Guarin and Rodriguez make for some pretty tasty midfielders (legal disclaimer: Frood does not condone cannibalism, except as a hypothetical topic for discussion). In defence, Zapata looks good enough to have been a squad player back in the days when AC Milan was a half decent side.

We at Frood suggest you knock back a shot of aguardiente. Especially when they play the spoiler horror show that is Greece. For an explanation of aguardiente, see our previous comments on guaro in our write-up of Group D, probably landing next week.

Greece

Here at Frood we don’t play favourites, although clearly you should support the Netherlands; no we aim for a dispassionate, non-judgemental assessment of each participating nation.

Close your eyes and cast your mind back to 2004. Unfancied FC Porto won the Champions League, beating even less fancied AS Monaco in the final. That victory catapulted Porto’s considerably more fanciable manager, José ‘I’m dead special, me’ Mourinho into the international spotlight.

But something much more disturbing than the above was to follow as a charmless team with no ambitions whatsoever beyond its own 18 yard box managed to spoil its way to winning Euro 2004.

I’m talking, of course, about England.

I mean Greece.

Greece qualified for the tournament after taking a long hard look in the mirror – that proper soul searching look you do when you know you need to make some fundamental changes to your life, or at least that thing on your face you (adorably) think of as a ‘beard’ – and deciding that actually some things are more important than the approval of hipster dilettantes who think they know football because they managed to find a vintage Borussia Dortmund strip in a skip in Dalston. Like qualifying for the World Cup, or winning Euro 2004 for that matter.

There’s more than 1 legitimate way to play the game and when you have to rely on strikers of the calibre of Samaras (Celtic) and Mitroglou (Fulham) you’ll probably reach the conclusion that there are worse things than focusing on defensive solidity. Like English holidaymakers in Greece.

Incidentally, I say Mitroglou’s a Fulham player, after all, vicious rumours abound that he is one, but to be fair no-one’s seen sight nor sound since he signed for them in January for £10m. And given the weak way they got themselves relegated it’s probably technically libel to refer to someone as a Fulham player. #hashtagBANTZ.

You remember that ‘epic’ lads/girls trip to Corfu you had after your A-Levels and in a misguided spirit (foreshadowing pun) of nostalgia got tanked up on the ouzo. And when you woke up, the World Cup had been over for 6 weeks.

Plus side, you didn’t have to watch any games involving Greece.

Ivory Coast

Sports ‘journalists’ have been banging on about how this really is the last hurrah for the Elephants’ underperforming golden generation (is there any other sort of golden generation that isn’t Spanish?). And it really is this time even if that’s what they said about the last few Africa Cup Of Nations tournaments and indeed the last World Cup, because Drogba is old as shit and so are the other ones whose names they’ll totally remember in a minute when they can get Google to load up. Stupid Android phones.

Some of those players include scampering wing-flake, Gervinho, 26, of Roma and Wilfried Bony (25), who bagged 24-odd league goals for Swansea this season, justifying his £12m transfer fee. ‘Justifying’ being a relative term of course. Also in the old man/last hurrah bracket is Serge Aurier of Toulouse. The 21 year old right back is hopeful of backing at the right of the team ahead of ex-Arsenal galoot Emmanuel Eboué. Eboué doesn’t appear to have made the cut, which makes Aurier’s job that much easier.

Of course there’s always throbbing atavism Yaya Toure, who’s dedicated his career to proving that actually the box-to-box midfielder isn’t an extinct position. He’s only 31 so he has a few more last hurrahs in him. Although possibly not for club Manchester City as he (or his agent at least) has let it be known that he was upset at the lack of respect shown to him by the club’s owners when they didn’t shake his hand on his birthday or give him a Bugatti Veyron. They didn’t give me a Bugatti Veyron for my birthday either, so I understand Toure’s pain.

Or that’s how it’s been reported in forensic detail by the English media at any rate.

If Toure proves too inconsolable to play there’s always Newcastle United’s surprisingly fragile door wedge, Cheick Tioté, who’s a total monster in the tackle unless he makes contact. For the avoidance of doubt that’s an obvious lie. Incidentally, it’s unlikely that Toure won’t play as the internet has decided he’s flashing an ankle at Barcelona even though Barcelona’s transfer ban hasn’t, to date, been lifted.

Anyway, you know what they say about elephants – they struggle to climb out of the Bugatti Veyron’s bucket seats. But they should be easily good enough to get out of the group stages for the first time.

The national drink is a type of wine derived from palm called bangui. Which might be tricky to source depending on where you live. If all else fails, knock back a glass of white wine, go outside and lick a tree.

It’s the thought that counts, as Yaya Toure will attest.

Japan

This season, Manchester United’s performances have been more unsettling than watching a pregnant woman smoke. Despite this, once-regarded playmaker Shinji Kagawa couldn’t get a game, which is cause for concern for his national team manager Alberto Zaccheroni.

Added to the star player’s form worries, Zaccheroni also has to deal with problems elsewhere in the squad. In particular, team captain Makuto Hasebe, a defensive lynchpin for FC Nürnberg, is a doubt to be pinning any lynches having spent much of the Bundesliga season either struggling with injuries or being operated on by doctors. That’s an exaggeration for comic effect in case you were in any doubt.

Japan is the reigning Asian Cup champion and was the first team to qualify for the World Cup, their fifth in a row. They’re usually regarded as one of the finest Asian teams, but sit somewhere around 50 in the FIFA world rankings, which are almost entirely meaningless.

They’re not in a particularly difficult group and should expect to qualify, behind Colombia and the Ivory Coast in second and first place respectively. Accordingly, you’ll happily proclaim them to be your dark horse choice (Belgium’s qualities are too well known to be dark horse contenders) before confirming you were talking out of your mouth when they don’t make it beyond the first round.

Is it maybe a little bit racist to suggest sake? Like Mickey Rooney’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s racist? Maybe not quite that bad, but culturally insensitive at least, like Lost in Translation? You’re not sure, so you just make it Suntory time like Bill Murray recommended in Lost in Translation. And that way people can be impressed by your quiet good taste in movies when you tell them at length how good it is. By ‘quiet’ and ‘good’ we mean ‘completely obvious’.

And yes Honda (AC Milan) is a player, but he’s also a car. Well done, your parents must be very proud of you.

__

Next time: some clever pun about Suarez as Frood bites a chunk out of Group D.

ITV Football: The New Boy’s First Day

Roy Keane fixed the new boy with a laser glare, freezing the terrified lamb to the spot.  “I don’t like smartarses, you hear? You’re not a smartarse, are ye?”

“Nnn..nnno, no.    Sir”

The boy trembled, fear leaking from every pore and every orifice, filling the cramped pundits box with a sour, unpleasant odour.

“Yer not shitting yerself are ye?”

The boy jerked his head from side to side, pupils dilated and buttocks clenched.  A bead of sweat trickled languorously down the small of his back to tickle the valley between his cheeks like an office manager on an intern.

“Good.”

Seemingly satisfied, Keane turned to leave.  The boy failed to prevent himself from heaving a sigh of relief.  Keane spun violently on his heel, a thought announcing itself on his face like a storm front.

“What do you think of that Martin Keown?”

A test, clearly.  But the boy didn’t know the rules or even the price of failure.  He stammered lamely, forcing the words out.

“Uum, he was a great player? He’s quite insightful on” but Keane interrupted the boy with a ferocity that, perhaps, surprised even himself;

“I SHIT ‘IM!!!  He’s got a face like one of those Easter Island statues.  I hate Easter Island.  He’s a stinking, simian, Easter Island wetbag; even Vinnie Jones could take him.  Prawn sandwich-munching, gimpy twat; I’ve taken DUMPS with more personality.”

He spat on the floor, as if to expel an evil taste, “I despise that goggle-eyed, vein-necked mongrel.”

With that he stalked off to find the makeup artist assigned to soften his own granite-hewn features in a vain attempt to prevent small children from having nightmares. 

He was intercepted by a cloud of pinkish mediocrity. “Hello Roy!” bounced the jovial jowls of Adrian Chiles. Keane said nothing but glowered into Chiles’ eyes, inches from his face.  They held one another’s gaze with all the tenderness of the Marquis De Sade faced with an underage servant girl.  Chiles broke eye contact first, re-affirming Keane’s dominance. 

Sated, Keane nodded brusquely in the direction of the new boy and his swampy armpits.  “Southgate’s replacement.”  Keane raised his voice “IF THIS ONE AVOIDS TALKING ALTOGETHER MAYBE I WON’T BITE HIS FACE OFF.”

Chiles approached the new boy, who by now was weeping viscous tears from his genitals, a mix of excitement and despair. “He’s just joshing, don’t let him intimidate you.  A lovely guy, really.”

But Chiles’ eyes betrayed the numb terror of a hunted animal.  He weighed up the new boy in his mind. He has a certain forcefulness about his manner of dress and choice of barnet, or lack thereof, he thought, maybe he won’t end up like Lee. 

Chiles shuddered as his mind filled with too many unwanted memories, unspeakable horrors that woke him up in the early hours, night after night:  Keane standing over the broken, crying form of Lee Dixon hitting him again and again with a foam hand he’d taken from a lovestruck young couple in the stadium, the constant humiliations, spittle collecting in the corners of Keane’s mouth as he smashed a chair over Gareth Southgate’s head and used the pieces to threaten Jamie Carragher during the Euros, Keane laughing in the face of a toddler as he stole her tube of Smarties.

Keane shouting, Keane stamping, Keane’s demeaning little slaps to the face, the pointing, the crazed eyes of a zealot, burning through your skin…

Yes, Chiles thought, poor kid doesn’t know what he’s letting himself in for.

Especially with that tie: Keane hates lime green.

THAT Speech In Full: Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King

Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Cole, of Lampard, my brothers!  Not Drogba or Malouda because they didn’t vocally support me over that whole racism thing and besides, Drogba’s no longer a Chelsea player.  I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me, even though I’ve been cleared of all wrongdoing in a court of law.  A day may come when the courage of England’s Brave John Terry fails, when I forsake my friends and break all bonds of fellowship, besides Wayne Bridge’s I mean, but it is not this day when we top the table by 4 points with only Sunderland in 13th with a game in hand.  An hour of woes and shattered shinpads, when the age of Terry comes crashing down!  But it is not this day!  This day we fight, although not the FA’s decision that I’m guilty of racially insulting Anton Ferdinand because I’ve decided not to appeal!  But other than that, by all that you hold dear on this good Earth – your cars and bling and houses and WAGs and Jacuzzis – I bid you stand, Men of Chelsea!