The FIFA World Cup starts today. I’ve been finding it hard to find the enthusiasm I usually have this year partly because corrupt FIFA is holding the tournament in corrupt Russia. (Finding out that North America will be getting a share of that corruption, er, soccer excitement in 2026 takes away the sting a little bit). Of course it also sucks that the USA failed (miserably) to qualify, and my backup squads in Ireland and the Netherlands are also staying home.
With that it mind here is who I’ll be rooting for in each group (I’m not event going to make an attempt to predict the outcome for this thing):
Group A – Egypt is the natural underdog here, appearing in their first Cup in 28 years with their superstar Mohamed Salah. I also have a fondness for Uruguay, who tend to punch above their weight in the soccer world.
Hoped for outcome: Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia
Group B – No strong feelings in any direction here. I’ve come to appreciate Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal through reading children’s biographies. I also like to see African teams succeed.
Hoped for outcome: Portugal, Morocco, Spain, and Iran.
Group C – Peru emerged from the tough South American qualifying group for their first World Cup in 36 years and thus the natural feel-good story for this group. I also have a fondness for Australia as the antipodean counterpart of the US national team.
Hoped for outcome: Australia, Peru, France, and Denmark.
Group D – OMG, how can you root for anyone but Iceland! I’m also hoping Lionel Messi can do something good in what is likely his final World Cup.
Hoped for outcome: Iceland, Argentina, Nigeria, and Croatia.
Group E – Costa Rica won hearts and minds, if not quite enough games in 2014. Let’s hope they bring the CONCACAF Thunder in 2018! And may Brazil atone for their embarrassment versus Germany.
Hoped for outcome: Costa Rica, Brazil, Switzerland, and Serbia.
Group F – I know I’m supposed to hate Mexico, but, screw it, I’m rooting for Mexico.
Hoped for outcome: Mexico, South Korea, Germany, and Sweden.
Group G – Panama qualified for their first World Cup at the USA’s expense, so they’d better make it worth it. No strong feelings on the rest of this group, but it seems deserving for England to make an early Brexit.
Hoped for outcome: Panama, Belgium, Tunisia, and England.
Group H – Colombia was another exciting team in 2014 that I’d like to see go farther this year.
Hoped for outcome: Colombia, Senegal, Japan, and Poland.
And if any of this comes to pass, I’ll be the most surprised.
Are you watching the World Cup this year? If so, who are you rooting for? Let me know in the comments!