The Greatest Month in Sports is back. The US and Italy are out, leaving me in the position of caring far less than usual. Once they got eliminated, I stopped following the news. I don’t know who all qualified, or what the groups are, or even what the ball looks like. Let me look up the official ball real quick.
That’s odd, not a single photograph of the ball finished loading. I’ll assume my connection is slow and that they haven’t gone with an ugly design that invokes the incessant creep of tech into every aspect of our lives and subtly reminds us of Russian hackers and election interference.
Anyhow, who to root for? Or for whom to root? I’m a quarter Irish, so let’s see who Ireland’s grouped with… ah. Apparently they’re grouped with the US and Italy. Great.
I have no national or ethnic stake whatsoever in this stupid tournament, so I’m left to do what I normally do when my favorite teams get eliminated: root for good games and lots of goals. Adopt whatever teams try to win via offense and against the teams that pack the box and park the bus in hopes of winning shootouts. Pray for the divers to get caught and ejected, and that Suarez won’t eat anyone.
Here’re my ill-informed-because-I-only-tuned-in-the-day-before-kickoff group stage predictions for the record, group winners listed first:
A: Uruguay, Russia. Uruguay’s decent, and Putin’s paid off whoever he needs to pay off to get out of the group stage.
B: Portugal, Spain. Spain changed coaches today– literally, today, the day before the tournament. They’re good, but that’s bound to rattle them.
C: France should win easily. No feel at all for second place. I’ll say Denmark advances on goal difference.
D: Argentina, Nigeria. These two teams seem to keep running into each other and having good games.
E: Brazil, Costa Rica. Brazil is Brazil and will hopefully embark on an entertaining quest of redemption. The Ticos made the quarters last time, so they’re an easy pick. Easy for me, that is, not for them.
F: This will be the Group of Death. But Germany will win and Mexico will place.
G: England, Belgium. I find Belgium keeps getting overrated, and England will finally perform well instead of simply showing up and assuming they’ll do well, as was the case the last few World Cups.
H: I have no idea. Four non-traditional powers, none of whom jump out at me. So for no reason whatsoever, I’ll go with Senegal winning and Columbia placing.
I don’t like the fact that the knockout bracket is defined. They should do a drawing after each round, like in the Champions League. It might complicate travel a little bit, but not too much.
Anyhow, here’s to a tournament entertaining enough that I forget none of my teams are involved.