Key Players: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, the former holder of the Golden Ball who now faces his supreme opportunity to cement his greatness on the world stage; Real Madrid and Champions League Final hero Angel Di María; injury questionable Manchester City striker Sergio “Kun” Aguero, with his killer instinct and Tolkein-elvish arm tatoo; and captain Javier Mascherano, whose hot temper could be a negative factor, having earned him a red card against potential second round opponent Ecuador in World Cup qualifying when he kicked a MEDIC driving him off in a cart after a time-consuming ‘injury.’
Bus Slogan: Not Just A Team, We Are A Country — are Argentinians this self-conscious? Maybe in Brazil, they are. With controverial moves like leaving popular favorite striker Carlos Tévez off the squad, one might wonder what ‘country’ the team is.
Where to Watch the World Cup: Argentina is also going to be crazy during the World Cup, and a stroll through the San Telmo or Palermo districts should produce a number of varied yet intense venues such as microbrew bar Antares, or the appropriately named 1986 Lounge Bar (1986 was the year of Argentina’s second and last World Cup trophy, in Mexico). The Plaza San Martin is the big screen for the hoi polloi.
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Bosnia / Hercegovina
Key Players: Edin Dzeko, Aguero’s back-up at Manchester City who in recent weeks stepped in with key goals to secure their EPL title; Asmir Begovic, goalkeeper lynchpin for defensively-minded EPL side Stoke City; Stuttgart striker Vedad Ibesevic, who with Dzeko powered their war-born nation to its first World Cup appearance, supported by AS Roma playmaker Miralem Pjanic.
Bus Slogan: Dragons In Heart, Dragons On The Field! — Bosnia is obviously trying to out-Targaryen Croatia here.
Where To Watch The World Cup: Perhaps a few Bosnians would love to head over to “King’s Landing” (Dubrovnik) to have a viewing party, but Sarajevo will certainly be an inspiring venue of unified spirit. St. Louis, where Bosnia just defeated Ivory Coast 2-1 behind two Dzeko goals, has a huge ex-pat population.
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Key Players: Ashkan Dejagah, the tattooed Fulham attacking midfielder; London Championship side Charlton striker Reza ‘Gucci’ Ghoochannejad, the self-jesting ‘biggest name in sports’; San Jose-born Vancouver Whitecaps defender Steven Beitashour; former Portugal coach Carlos Quieroz.
Bus Slogan: Honour of Persia — Short and sweet, but a little too reminiscent of a restaurant on Westwood Boulevard in LA.
Where to Watch the World Cup: probably one of those restaurants on Westwood Boulevard in LA.
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Key Players: the wonderfully named CA Bastia midfielder Sunday Mba, who had crucial goals in early stages of qualifying and managed to overcome visa problems that threatened to kick him off the team; Fenerbahçe forward Emmanuel Emenike, who scored both Nigeria goals in the crucial away leg of their playoff with Ethiopia, trying for their first appearance ever in the World Cup; John Obi Mikel, midfielder for Chelsea and leader for his nation; Vincent Enyeama, who recently almost set a French Ligue 1 minutes record for clean sheets only to be thwarted by an own goal.
Bus Slogan: Only Together We Can Win — A Plaintive Statement in a divisive time even for this normally divisive country.
Where to Watch the World Cup: Unfortunately, perhaps Las Vegas, as questions of match-fixing are also once-again swirling around this national team. The Sports Book in Caesar’s has a great wall of screens for the crucial final pairs of simultaneous group round games.
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