Faithful reader Cormac Eklof (notice the last name is a certain Red Sox pitcher in reverse, minus the “u”), who happens to be the winningest pitcher in Irish baseball history, is excited to hear that we’re giving football (not soccer, he’s adamant about that) a chance here in the States with the World Cup upon us. In fact, he’s drawn up a rather extensive cheat sheet that compares each quad to an American sports counterpart to make our immersion all the more smooth. Check it out ...
Germany -- The Detroit Pistons 2006. A defensive team, built on some powerful players, but playing with a huge psychological weight (Germany is expected to do well being the home team, much as Detroit was the defending Beast of the East). Outlook grim for those watching and for the Germans themselves, who should show us a new level of defensive, terrified play.
Poland -- The current Baltimore Ravens squad. Ostensibly a defensive team, but without any real defensive ability. Should be offensive to watch.
England -- The 2000-06 New York Mets. Massively, ridiculously overrated by their local media, always involved in some sort of comical downfall, insane injuries, woeful management. A huge car crash waiting to happen, at which stage the local media go absolutely berserk in berating the team that they themselves told literally everyone was going to win the tournament
Sweden -- The 2005 Baltimore Orioles or the 2006 Detroit Tigers. Potential dark horses until they have to play decent teams.
Argentina -- The 2005 Chicago White Sox. Nowhere near as colorful as their illustrious neighbors (The Cubbies/Brazil), but built to perform as a team. They just keep on winning.
Ivory Coast -- Syracuse hoops team, 2006. Colorful, talented, might make a decent run, might get knocked out in the first round, Didier Drogba is Gerry McNamara.
Serbia -- The Pistons from the ‘90s. REALLY dour, defensive and brought up in the school of hard knocks. Maybe you'll beat them, but you'll know about it physically after.
Netherlands -- Ladies and gentlemen your New York Knicks. A collection of individuals rather than a team, simmering below the surface is the local media waiting to pounce on first year coach and former god Van Basten, his decisions are Isiah-like in leaving out several stars, including the potentially influential Van Bommel. Could get buried early in the hardest group by far.
Mexico -- The 2005 Astros or the 2006 Seahawks. Not quite sure how they got here, just kinda happy to be here, and not entirely sure they will actually do anything while here.
Portugal -- The Yankees post-2004. An impressive collection of names under possibly one of the best coaches in the game (Big Phil Scolari/Joe Torre). Destined to look pretty and crash horribly, ala NY in 2004 and Portugal in the European Championships.
Italy -- Peyton Manning. High hopes lead to low yields.
USA -- Phoenix Suns 2006. Pacey, unbelievably fit, and play an alien style that should confuse many teams. If everyone stays fit the Yanks could go deeper than expected.
Czech Republic -- The Yankees of 2006. Huge injury problems should lead to an early exit ... but ... you just don't know ...
Brazil - The Yankees of the late ‘90s. If they avoid injuries, forget about it.
Croatia -- The 2006 Steelers. Tough team from a hard knock school of learning; no one will want to draw them in later rounds.
France -- Ladies and gentlemen, your 2004 Boston Red Sox. An experienced, talented bunch of individuals who know how to win and could very well do it again. Thierry Henry is Pedro Martinez whilst Zinidine Zidane is Schilling.
Switzerland -- I don't know anything about the NHL but name any boring, bad NHL team and this is who the Swiss are. I hope France puts 9 past them.
Spain -- Alex Rodriguez. They will look excellent in initial league play, will probably tear Tunisia and the Saudis apart, might even make Ukraine look silly, but will choke harder than the 2004 Yankees when push comes to shove.
Ukraine -- The 2005 Dallas Mavericks. They go as their superstar striker, and genuine world beater, Andrei Schevchenko, goes. He is Dirk to them, if he twists his ankle the Ukrainian nation holds its breath.
Korea, Togo, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Australia, Japan, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Iran -- Any first round exiting team in March Madness.
Trinidad and Tobago, Angola -- The Kansas City Royals