June 10, 2010

Herm's Guide to the World Cup

The Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanl........ oh who gives a shit.

Herm (you know, the foreign guy) wrote an English version of a guide to the 2010 World Cup, which begins Friday. He writes a Portuguese-speaking hockey blog, so it would make no sense for him to post it there. We, on the other hand, write an English nonsense blog, so it would make perfect sense to post it here. Today, Herm is an honorary TTD writer. Here are his words, with my pithy comments shown in italics:

The format

The World Cup has 32 teams divided into 8 groups of 4. Those 4 teams will play each other once, with the top two in points from each group qualifying to the next round. After that, elimination games will decide who's through to the next rounds.

This shitty guide starts with a little about each team, group by group.


South Africa: the host country. It possibly will be the first host not to advance to the 2nd round in history of the World Cup. It probably will depend on the good will of referees to accomplish this mission.

I watched "Invictus" a couple of weeks ago. How can it be that Matt Damon did a decent enough job with a South African accent, yet he butchered a Boston accent in "The Departed"? He's fucking FROM BOSTON. It was as if Martin Scorsese told him, "I think it would work best if you sounded like a half deaf Bugs Bunny as opposed to an actual Bostonian." This question somehow managed to ruin both movies for me.

France: the runner-up of 2006, this year's version is weaker than any French team since the '98 championship. It's unlikely to miss the 2nd round, but “favorite” is certainly not the word to describe this team.

I know this is beyond cruel, but France's best player looks like (prepare yourself....) this. Holy hell. The Elephant Man just looked at that and said, "Oh my God."

Mexico: has the weird distinction of having lost more games than any other team in history, but it has a lot to do with playing in 13 WCs to this day, which is credited to playing the qualifying tournament in the weak CONCACAF. It might do some damage, but not much.


Uruguay: sure, they won two Cups before, but they came in '30 and '50. They'll try to fight Mexico for 2nd place, with the defense being its biggest strength (violently strong, sometimes).

I can't say it. I just can't say "YER-UH-GWY". It's "YER-UH-GWAY" to me. (Typing that phonetically was tougher than the pronunciation dilemma to begin with.)


Argentina: its head coach is Diego Maradona, known worldwide for his talent and problems with drugs. As a coach, Maradona is confusing and probably a distraction to his team. The only player with a guaranteed spot is Lionel Messi, currently the world’s best player, and that alone qualifies them as favorites.

Herm's from Brazil. Brazilians hate Argentina. I like Herm. I hate Argentina.

Nigeria: after beating Brazil in the ’96 Olympics and Spain in the ’98 World Cup, the futebol world got to know the Nigerian team. Some players are left from those teams, but most players are young and will work hard to try and reach the 2nd round.

Nigeria just played North Korea in an exhibition match which was marred by a stampede involving thousands of fans. Seriously, people? An exhibition match? At least wait until you beat the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.

Greece: they will have to pull some upsets if they want to reach the 2nd round. Not that they care, since “upset” was the most used word in their run to the 2004 Euro Cup title, beating Portugal in the final.

I dare you to read all of the last names of Greece's roster without bleeding from the ears.

South Korea: their best finish was the 4th place in ’02, when they hosted the competition. That run happened mostly due to glaring refereeing errors in their favor, helping them beat Spain and Italy. Without the home factor, it will be a challenge to do some noise.

Don't count out South Korea, because they've got Sol. /slaps knee, laughs/


England: they lost stars David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand to injuries, but one would be crazy not to point them as perfectly capable of lifting the Cup. But they do have the tendency to play to their opponent’s level, so the weak group might not be so weak.

Tea and crumpets and shit.

United States: I’m sure some North Americans watched the Confederations Cup and got a little too optimistic. It might be an exaggeration, but don’t dismiss the team that almost beat Germany in ’06 and caused Spain’s latest choke last year. If they take advantage of England’s bad tendency, they might surprise some.

You may have heard that we are playing England on Saturday afternoon. ESPN has been advertising this like it's Revolutionary War 2: The Empire Strikes Back. Times infinity.

Slovenia: they live and die on Robert Koren’s effort, but they’ll probably die on this one…

Word, Robert Koren. Totally.

Algeria: it’s the team that France could be. The greatest French player of the last decade, Zinedine Zidane, was born in France from Algerian parents. Most players on the current team have those same roots, and this semi-French team probably will do no harm.


Germany: a defensive team by nature, it will have to rely even more on defense without its best player, Michael Ballack, out with an ankle injury. They took down a great team every time they won the Cup in the past, Hungary in ’54, Holland in ’74 and the host country Italy in ’90.

Seemingly every team is coming in with some major injury to their best player or one of their best players. So perhaps losing their best player wasn't the end of the world. They're still Germany. (That's like when non-Wings fans use "They're still the Red Wings". Regardless of the circumstance, you're not completely safe until they're out of the tournament. )

Ghana: already a low-skilled team, they lost their best player due to injury, Michael Essien. Even without him, it’s still a very hard working team with a good eye for tactics. It’s probably the most physical team in the Cup, but not good enough to go past the 2nd round.

Serbia: they already participated in 2 World Cups, but this will be their first World Cup. What? They already played as Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro, but Serbia makes its debut in this edition. They will try to erase the bad image left after working as punching bags in ’06, trying to challenge Ghana for the 2nd place in the group.

Australia: it’s their third Cup, second in a row. They hope to repeat the ’06 performance, when they reached the 2nd round. With an old and experienced roster (all the starting 11 are older than 30), they have a decent chance to upset Ghana and Serbia.

Granted I know dick about this stuff but my first impulse is to predict Germany winning this group by a score of 80 to 0.


Holland: they choke so much that no one calls them chokers anymore. They will play as they traditionally play, with a stunningly good offense and a well-organized defense, hoping to win games by scores of 3-2 or 4-3. The star Arjen Robben is injured and is out of the group stage, but will be a major reinforcement for the elimination rounds.

"3-2 or 4-3"?? Whoooa, look out!. If you aren't watching close enough you might mistake Holland for the '84 Edmonton Oilers.

Cameroon: always the “African team of the future”, they count on Samuel Eto’o’s goals to qualify for the 2nd round. The problem is that Eto’o, a scoring machine for his clubs, but always disappears when playing for his national team.

Denmark: nicknamed “Dane-machine” in the 80’s, they enter this edition as heavy and boring underdogs, but their disciplined team can make it through the group stage.

The thing I know most about Denmark is that Andy from Fight Night is not a fan of theirs. Andy is from Norway. I like Norway. I like Andy. I hate Denmark.

Japan: the best Asian team in the Cup, but clearly not enough to do damage. They try to surprise with the usual speed and tactical devotion, but they will fail because of the usual weak offense.

"Best Asian team" has a 'tallest midget' joke ring to it, but you know, I'm no racist.


Italy: the ’10 team has the same core as the ’06 champions, which had the same core as the ’02 team, which already had some players from the ’98 team. In short, they’re old. But much like the Red Wings people say that every year and every year they make their impact.

I've been with Ms. Deke for many moons now, and somehow didn't know until this week that she doesn't like spaghetti. Who in the fuck doesn't like spaghetti. Long story short I think we're going to do a 'TTD Bachelorette' show in the coming days so I can find a normal girlfriend. (Hint: like spaghetti.)

Paraguay: the third force of South America will try to take advantage of the elderly Italians and steal the first in place in their group in order to avoid a killer opponent on the 2nd round. With a very good generation of players, they are more than capable of battling the current champions and crushing the other two teams.


Slovakia: the only team to debut in this edition, they will try not to be blown out by Italy and Paraguay. Some youngsters are quite good, but those are the exceptions in this team.

Marian Hossa, you slut.

New Zealand: they should stick to rugby. In their only World Cup, in ’82, they lost all three game with a combined score of 2-12, and the future doesn’t look better.


Brazil: after a disappointing performance in ’06, Brazil relies on its defense to extend their lead in number of titles. They have the best goalkeeper and defenders in the world, but the team plays a boring football that has nothing to do with what people think when they see those bright yellow shirts.

I've read that Brazilians not only expect their team to win, but to look amazing while doing it. Herm -- what is wrong with your people, man? This shit comes once every four years! Would a string of ugly 1-0 victories resulting in another World Cup be so bad?

Most importantly, Brazil's best player is named Kaka, which if you aren't 3 years old yet is Mexican for "poopy".

Portugal: favorites four years ago, now they reach the Cup under a cloud of doubts. Cristiano Ronaldo is a different player for Portugal compared to what he can do for his clubs, and they got to the competition after a lot of pain in the qualifiers. Should be in the battle for the 2ndplace.

Ivory Coast: they were supposed to fight Portugal, but an injury to Didier Drogba, one of the best forwards in the world, can end this dream. If the other “European” players on the team show up, they might spell trouble, but don’t count on it.

North Korea: *censored*

^ That made me really laugh.


Spain: chokers, chokers, chokers. Sure, they won the Euro Cup in ’08, but that’s just because Germany choked harder. They’ll steamroll through the group stage before facing Portugal or Ivory Coast in the 2nd round. The team is balanced and will try to shake the label off their backs.

Chile: having an Argentinean coach would be a hell of a reason to root against them, but they are the hope for the Chileans that suffered with earthquakes earlier this year. Some young values will try to make their nation forget the tragedy, and they’re capable of it.

Switzerland: after being eliminated in ’06 with giving any goal, they count on their forwards to provide them some quality. Will battle Chile for the 2nd place.

Honduras: while they missed the last 7 World Cups, they might not be the dead flies they seem to be. It’s unlikely to reach the elimination rounds, but they have a stingy defense and some decent forwards who’ll try to surprise Chile and Switzerland.

That’s it, those are the 32 team that will participate in the biggest sports event in the world (sorry, Olympics). But who are you rooting for? The World Cup is unique in a lot of ways, one of them being that not only are you allowed, but you are encouraged to have backup teams. You have Team A, which is your country. You have Team B, some team you like and want to see succeeding. And you have Team C, which is “whoever is playing Argentina right now”.

The whole point in having a ”Team X” is to have someone to root for if your team is eliminated, so the team must be strong. That’s why I set-up some info about the 6 teams with real potential of winning this edition of the World Cup, which makes them candidates for Team B. Here they are:


The good: has about the best fans in football. Not only Brazilians root for them, but a lot of foreigners too. It has a good defense that won’t cause you heart attacks.

The bad: The offense will cause you heart attacks. For no reason other than pride, coach Dunga left out some of the best players he could have, making the team too dependent on just one player, Kaka, who’s coming back from injury and is not reliable.

Comedy factor: Dunga’s daughter is a stylist, and often uses her daddy as a model. Look out for some weird shit like purple scarves and very busy jackets. Also, the underlying possibility of a drunken player rolling down the presidential ramp if Brazil wins it all.


The good: beautifully played football, they can confuse their opponent with quick changes in positioning and unnerve them with quality passes.

The bad: chokers. Holland always have to choose between playing well or winning, and usually chooses the first.

Comedy factor: look out for those goofy looking orange shirts. Especially if announcers start referring to them as the “Clockwork Orange”.


The good: one thing you always know, they will contend. Their defense is brilliant and can beat opponents on pure smarts or brute strength.

The bad: they are old. The team is not good enough to glide past the first round, and fatigue can cause them trouble on elimination games.

Comedy factors: Italians seem to think they are the best looking players in the world, despite their noses. Be alert to replays of Zidane headbutting Italian defender Materazzi in the ’06 final.


The good: very balanced team, can stop opponents while stuffing their nets. Their fans are also great.

The bad: they choke pretty hard, too. The creators of football only won one Cup, in ’66, and thanks to a glaring officiating error. They also have the tendency to get injured often.

Comedy factor: high. Defender John Terry had an affair with the wife of Wayne Bridge, former Chelsea teammate and also on England’s roster.


The good: probably the most balanced team today, the players have played together for a long time and have good chemistry.

The bad: most players are very important to their clubs, and the long season got them tired and ready to choke.

Comedy factor: any time they show their chokes. My favorite is the game against Nigeria in the group stage in ’98, with the Spaniard goalie pushing the ball inside his own net.


The good: they regained national pride after the ’06 Cup, even if failing to win. The team is going through a renovation without downfall.

The bad: they are defensive and boring, it’s genetic, and you can’t change it. With its best player injured, they will bore the hell out of us.

Comedy factor: comedy and Germans don’t match.


The good: destiny says they’ll win, since both Brazil (’94) and Italy (’06) spent 24 years without a title before finally getting it on penalty kicks, and Argentina’s last Cup was on 1986.

The bad: destiny says they won’t win. FIFA’s been awarding the world’s best player since 1993, and the winner never lifted the Cup on the following year.

Comedy factor: oh, this will be fun…

  • Coach Maradona says his players can have beer, barbecue and sex all they want during the competition (to which Brazilian coach responded “not everyone likes sex”)
  • Diving: soccer players are known for diving, but Argentineans take it to a new level. It’s wonderful watching it, every single trip is reminiscent of “Sonny in the tollbooth re-enacted by Jim Carrey”
  • Mullets. Lots and lots of mullets. The best is from Carlos Tevez, who looks like a crossdress between Blanka from Street Fighter and Sloth from Goonies




J.J. from Kansas said...

I'm rooting for the U.S., Brazil, and Germany.

It's amazing that all German National teams play a boring defense-first style, considering they're the country that invented blitzkrieg.

As a final note, I'd root for Cameroon if they'd invade northern Greece (Macedonia) and change their name to Macaroon.

AndrewFromAnnArbor said...

Herm, good summation of a tournament that will be largely irrelevant to most of us. Though you missed Maradona's role in the Hand of God (man, are Englishmen still sore about that one), you did mention the fact that he's a cokehead, so all is forgiven. I will NOT let you mention the mullets on the Argentinian squad without you paying proper homage to the best afro ever in world football-- Carlos Valderrama (yes, I'm aware he's Colombian, but I'm making a hair exception). And I'm taking the injury to Drogba a lot harder than I should be-- I really want an African nation to win it all. That being said, I think the Netherlands have a few tricks up their sleeves and may take a few scalps by surprise before people catch on to them. At the end of the day, it'll probably be Greece. BO-RING.

Tyler, a few things: first, it's actually pronounced "OOR-OO-GWAI." They won the first ever World Cup, a fact that my Uruguayan friend Marion won't let me forget. Second, if you wear spaghetti as a codpiece, Mrs. Deke might like it more. Third, how would you know what a decent South African accent sounds like?

Triple Deke Staff said...


After watching Invictus, I said to myself "That accent didn't sound too ridiculous, I wonder if he did an accurate job with it." So I looked up some people's comments on it. It is supposedly one of the hardest accents to mimic.

AndrewFromAnnArbor said...

Homer: "Heh, look at this country: 'Yoo-Ar-Gay.'"

Well, if some people appreciated Matt Damon's valiant attempt at the accent, then that's good enough for me. I have quite a few Saffer friends, is all. Never struck me as particularly hard-- just change all the vowel sounds to a long E ('South Africa' becomes 'Seth Efrika,' etc.), but then I've never actually made a serious attempt at it. Believe it or not, American's one of the toughest ones to get right if you're not a native-- very few other English-speaking countries (and ESL speakers) make use of the glottal stop.

You want to talk ridiculous accents though, The Departed also features Leo DiCaprio's atrocious accent too. That movie is a crime against decent speech everywhere.

Andy said...

Awesome work. And yay at Tyler's Denmark hate. I will be rooting for Braszcszsil, USA, underdogs and whoever faces Argentina, England, Germany and Italy

Anonymous said...

pretty lame:
go Argentina,
Ribery was in an horriblle car accident as a kid,which he luckily survived,and you mock him.
Koren isnt even the 3rd most important player on the roster,and Slovenia knocked out Russia in the elimination round,and they play the most disciplined team game in Europe.
Bah,college humor sucks,word.

Triple Deke Staff said...

Bah,college humor sucks,word.

As does grammar, I guess.

Guilherme Calciolari said...

Thanks, Edillac.

And JJ, when the fuch will you start your blog? We need that!

Brent said...

"Ribery was in an horriblle car accident as a kid,which he luckily survived,and you mock him."

I don't think we should about taking the moral high ground over a father of two who cheated on his wife with an underaged prostitute.

Guilherme Calciolari said...

On what Brent said:


Sullyosis said...

I love you Herm, I really do, but I lived with an Argentine woman who taught me how to be a snob in many things, including my profession. She's still a mentor to me, so I have to root for Argentina AFTER I root for the United States. Also, lived with a guy who met Drogba whilst growing up in the Ivory Coast. So I hope the do well also.


Anne from Kansas said...

Excellent write-up Herm! Although I would have expected nothing less given your always insightful hockey analysis...

On a completely unrelated note, this post did inspire me to make spaghetti for dinner tonight and it was delicious! None of which should be construed as a come-on, as I think you should overlook Ms. Deke's obvious character flaw as she has apparently overlooked yours when it comes to your breakfast cereals of choice :)

SYF said...

Excellent, excellent work, Herm. Even though I have some exposure to English football from my student abroad experiences in 1993, I have a bit of a lean towards England (partly because I like Giggs and Rooney can piss off) after the US.

I've been to Spain and I adore Barcelona so they're my third choice.

However, NO ONE beats the Brasilians when it comes to absolute fanaticism. Great love for your national team remains unrivaled anywhere. I don't mind them winning it all once again.

Anonymous said...

you can be pretty confident Guilherme,Kaka is not everything,you have great goaltending,and Maicon is awesome,to me that is more important than just scoring.
But still,I always loved the Argentinian play,especially the midfield,but that cokehead Maradona left two of the best midfielders out of the lineup, crucial mistake.
my money is on England,Spain (Xavi and Iniesta :magic) and Brazil.
Oh,and Slovenija will defeat the USA,tough luck staff.

Osrt said...

I'm in Berlin now so I'm forced to root for Germany or [insert Nazi joke here]. They played really well against Australia and look like a force.

It's really cool to be in Europe for the World Cup. Lots of crazy events here, including huge viewing parties in circus tents and shit. No joke, we watched the game last night in a circus tent.

Sophia says hi to you guys.

Thomas said...

You could add another comedy factor to England: Their goalie :)

Hillarious goal

J.J. from Kansas said...

Oh,and Slovenija will defeat the USA,tough luck staff.

Haha, you were wrong about something on the internet.

Brent said...

Yeah, Good thing Ribery survived that wreck. If he didn't he would never have been able to go to court for this. Ribery, Benzema charged in scandal