Undisputedly the Group of Life, Belgium must have been quietly pleased when these bunch of easy-beats were pulled out alongside them. No doubt Russia felt entitled to an easy group and could possibly trump Belgium for the top spot, but I fear Algeria and Korea face being drowned in a bukkake of goals.
Sure, Korea may have made this group interesting a decade ago, but with their northern neighbours inadvertently diverting much needed World Game money into pointless things such as national security, they are not the power they once were. As for Algeria, you get the feeling they’ll be the single guy at the swingers party. Dick in hand and not quite sure how they got in, they’ll be happy to score just once.
1st – Belgium (FIFA Ranking 12. GDP: $467,856,476)
Widely accepted as the dark horse of the tournament, Belgium has a pretty impressive side for a small nation. Hazard, Lukaku, Fellaini and a defensive line that wouldn’t look out of place in a Champions League final.
“The Golden Boys” might be a better nickname than the current (borderline copyright infringing) “The Red Devils”, given this current crop of freakishly talented young Belgians. Their coach also believes in “defence by attack” (easier when your defence boasts the like of Kompany, Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen), which means that Belgium may just be the greatest proponent of The Beautiful Game this World Cup.
Their beer may be overrated and their prolific Beer Cafes overpriced, but I will be latching onto them as my second team, and hopefully supporting them deep into the knockout stages, which as a Socceroos supporter, is a concept completely foreign to me.
Interestingly, according to Oxfam, Belgium would also win the tournament were it based solely on bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, edging out Germany in the final. Sure, it wouldn’t be the most interesting World Cup, but at least you know the good guys would win for once – after beating those evil Germans (socially equal perhaps, but equally evil if Hollywood is to be believed, and it is).
2nd – Russia (FIFA Ranking 18. GDP: $261,968,904)
There are a few things that scare me in this world: getting eaten alive by a shark; Shane Warne’s apparent case of the Benjamin Button’s; and Russia.
Unsurprisingly, Oxfam’s version of the tournament sees Russia finishing last in their group, with the charity in fact issuing them a “red card” for their disinterest in equality. Putin must be shaking in his boots! As for their actual footballing prowess, I have no idea. I just assume that with their population and rank of 18th, they must be ok.
What will be interesting to see is, given their we don’t give a fuck approach to foreign policy, if they get knocked out in, say the Round of 16, will they actually go home? Or just turn up to the Quarter Finals anyway? Proudly emerging unexpectedly onto the pitch as one of the teams scheduled to play is held by armed men in their changing rooms.
There is also the risk that Vladimir Putin could decide to play striker at the final minute, in which case I tip them to top this group, because only the South Americans, or perhaps the USA, will be crazy enough to tackle him.
Is the Ukraine in this World Cup?
3rd – Korea Republic (FIFA Ranking 55. GDP: $83,329,629)
Sweet Korea Republic. Isn’t this just South Korea? Have they changed their name? When did this happen?
Long gone are the joyous days of 2002 when they knocked out Spain in the Quarter Finals and went within a groomed pubic hair of an unlikely appearance in the big show. Now more known for their weird pop-stars and having to live next door to Kim (not Kardashian… although that would also be annoying), Korea are a bit of a non-entity at this World Cup.
Is it offensive to call a country irrelevant? I don’t mean on the world stage in general (‘Gangnam Style’, come on!), but in terms of sporting relevance? Did you know they have a professional computer game circuit in South Korea? Big fat dudes with Doritos crumbs on their chests will become the new heroes for a generation of Korean children and football will become something the poor people do… Hey, hang on, with that in mind, Korea to win in 2030!*
4th – Algeria (FIFA Ranking 25. GDP: $104,932,697)
I will freely admit I know fuck all about Algeria. Couldn’t tell you a single player, who their coach is, or even what their country is renowned for.
I could look all this us up, but that may be construed as application, and as a “Generation Y’er” I refuse to apply myself to anything, ever, so fuck you.
By Alasdair McClintock
*Unless they’ve been nuked.