So as the World Cup is nearly upon us, here are quick summations of The eight groups that will be competing amongst themselves in the first stage, along with their special FIFA-chosen ‘bus slogans’ and a suggestion of an ideal location for viewing your nation’s games.
502 Bad Gateway
Stars in the flag: Neymar, Jr. and Dani Alves (the twitter twins), Hulk (not named after the Rio-based reboot with Edward Norton), and my favorite: Fred, the striker.
Bus slogan: Brace Yourselves, the Sixth is Coming! — outside of Brazil, this could be interpreted in many ways: a series of surfing waves, a long session in the sack, a strange adventist fundamentalism…but in country to this would be added the enormous pressure Brazilians, and the world in general, have put upon themselves to live up to their billing as the best soccer nation in the world.
Best place to watch the World Cup: Don’t get out of your seat in the stadium, or you’ll lose it, perhaps in more ways than one — otherwise, if you can’t or won’t make it to live games, pretty much any venue in the world will have a crowd of Brazil fans to keep you company.
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Key Players: Ivan Rakitic (just won the 2014 Europa Cup with Sevilla in penalty shootout), Stipe Pletikosa (four-time WC veteran goalkeeper just won the 2014 Russian Cup penalty shootout for FC Rostov), Luka Modric (Real Madrid) and Mario Mandzukic (leaving Bayern Munich for greener pastures).
Bus Slogan: Dragons In Heart, Dragons On The Field! The Croatians are obviously aligning themselves with the Valyrians here. With all the “ichachos” (as the Uruguayans called the Yugoslavians in the inaugural 1930 World Cup) and a midfielder named Vedran Corluka, among another reason mentioned below, this is fairly a no-brainer.
Best place to watch the World Cup: Dubrovnik
What better place to watch a team that will be almost immediately under siege in Brazil than the Adriatic coastal fortress town that has served as the stand-in for King’s Landing?
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Key Players: Rafa Marquez, about to make history as the first player to captain his national squad through five World Cups…despite this, his renowned ‘loco’ temper is still in full effect, so who knows what will happen. Club América coach Miguel Herrera is credited with just getting the unusually-struggling Mexico to the tournament, but now his tactics are feared to be too conservative. Of course, he likely also knows that boring, conservative tactics unfortunately can get teams to finals of competitions of this nature.
Bus Slogan: Always United, Always Aztecas…Brits will think that the whole Mexican National Team has bonded behind Manchester United sub striker Javier ‘Chichirito’ Hernandez, but elsewhere inquiries may be made into their airline of choice, or for the US South see below…
Best place to watch the World Cup: In Louisiana, Alabama or northern Florida head down to your nearest Aztecas chain restaurant. Or if the real volcanic, tequila deal is your preference, there is always Cuervanaca…
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Key Players: Samuel Eto’o; the aging star striker (acknowledged to be at least 35) just finished an up-and-down season with Chelsea, calling his soon-to-be ex-manager Jose Mourinho a ‘fool’…Eto’o’s back-up is the complicatedly-named Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Bus Slogan: A Lion Remains A Lion: A Zen koan, an oblique reference to the Indomitable chief’s advancing years, or a possible utterance of David Cross’ Tobias Fünke on Arrested Development — but Cameroon’s coach is Volker Finke, not Fünke…
Best place to watch the world cup: Douala
Between 14,000 ft volcano Mount Cameroon and the Bight of Bonny, this seaside city lies at the center of the former geographical union of Brazil and Africa in the Gondwana old days. Gaze westward with longing.
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