Group H

It is here. The Biggest Sporting Event in the World is about to begin… and you know what that means… that’s right VFLOAB is a little more than PUMPED about it all. So we’ll cut to the chase and just give you our predictions…

Instead of giving IN DEPTH REPORTS on each team, we’ll leave that to those who know and see the game more often that we do. So if you want an informative and humorous take on each team, we suggest That’s On Point. Here’s the link to Angola, the Netherlands, and USA respectively from the fine bloggers at That’s On Point. Read them. Enjoy them. I love them and you should too. As for the rest… we’re going to use our buddies at the Guardian for help. They seem to like us a real lot and we know we like them.

For Info on Groups A and B go here
And for Info on Groups C and D go here
Group E and F you ask?
Least we forget Group G!

Oh and if you really care about checking out ALL the jerseys from the World Cup this year… go here.

And what is developing as a funny World Cup subplot… a German newspaper called Beckham’s kids dwarfs. Becks isn’t happy about that. Then I just heard on the Guardian podcast, the editor of the newspaper where this stuff was said say in a very German voice, “In Germany, we call kids dwarfs. It’s endearing.” Let the laughs begin!

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu where Real Madrid plays, taken by VFLOAB

Group H
Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tunisia, Ukraine

Saudi Arabia
Their Deal: A team that looks good in qualification, but then again the competitions isn’t the greatest. All their players come from the Saudi domestic league which isn’t well known for its stellar competition. This is the same team that was destroyed 8-0 to Germany four years ago. Maybe they’ll only lose 5-0 to the Ukraine this year.
Nickname: Al Akhdar (the Green), though I think if they went with the Muhammads it’d be funny and show that they’ve got a bit of a sense of humor. Of course that was a secular joke, so forget it.
World Cup Best: Round of 16 in 1994 on semi-home soil of the USA
Stud Muffin: Goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Deayea only has 181 caps… between duty for his club team, national team, and praying five times a day how does he have time for the kids? He’s only 33 btw, it’s not like he’s 42 and has that many caps.
Random Thoughts: I forget are they the good guys or bad guys? binBaby is from the Kingdom… most of the jagbags that flew the planes on 9/11 were from the Kingdom, a lot of these Jihadists are from the Kingdom… but they’re on our side? WHAT AM I MISSING?!?!... Oh that’s right were in bed politically with the Kingdom because they have oil and a shite load of money invested in this country. HOT… He look, OIL… I’d love to go to Mecca someday, but being a non-Muslim I’m on the outside looking in on that one. Literally.
Best Name: Umm, Abdulaziz Al-Khathran because it sort of sounds like a bad rap name.
American Sports Team They Best Compare To: The BYU football team… hey they can win in the WAC, get run over every where else.
For the Women: If they were shoes . . . Flip-flops free with a magazine
Here they are again, on display to a vast audience. But beware: they may look OK but expect low quality to tell soon. History shows they could fall apart the minute they're given a run out
Chances: Getting a point off of Tunisia would be sweet and take away some of that sting from getting killed by Germany 8-0… that’s probably a best case scenario… not losing by 6 would be cool too.

Their Deal: On talent alone, they might be the most complete team in the tournament… but it’s Spain. So that means they’re going to underachieve and make everyone wonder why they came up short again. Basically Spain is what a United Kingdom team would look like… a lot of fighting between the English (Castilian), the Scots (Catalonia), and Irish [Northern Ireland] (Basque) and that’s probably why they haven’t won a World Cup. But Civil Wars to that to countries, maybe that’s why the US hasn’t won the World Baseball Classic yet… seriously though, the Spanish have a ton of talent and some depth too. If some how they ‘put it all together’ they could win this whole thing.
Nickname: La Furia Roja (the Red Fury)
World Cup Best: Fourth place 1950 (just as good as the US and South Korea btw)
Stud Muffin: Xavi, who plays for Barca, is really good; Fernando Torres (Atlético Madrid) can score goals, and Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) is one of the top goaltenders in the world. Take a pick.
Random Thoughts: Shocking I know, but Spain didn’t join the EU until 1986, only 4 years prior to East Germany (well sort of)… Ex-GF#1’s sister lives in Madrid… I’ve been to Madrid twice (yes that's VFLOAB singing Lionel Richie on the left), by the time I left it the second time, I grew to love it… True Fact: while out one night in Madrid, we made friends with a Peruvian, an Argentine who grew up in Madrid, and German. They then took us to a bar, where I met an American who was like 23 and planning on making film noir movies set in 1950s San Francisco (he also mentioned a director whom I had never and will never hear of again). Now drunk, I met two Swedes who I start chatting about sports, I was doing most of the talking even asking them at one point “So do you like Freddie Ljungberg or Peter Forsberg more?” Thinking I was insane, I rephrased my question, “Futball or hockey?” They both said soccer... Oh and we went to this bitty sandwich place which was awesome, and well, this isn’t a travel blog of Madrid is it?... I like this team a lot, being a soccer novice they’re my pick, which probably means they’ll go crashing out in the round of 16… I’m telling you, that bitty sandwich place was amazing… I like their colors, the yellow and red is very under used… St. Ignatius of Loyola was from the Basque Country and therefore we have a soft spot in our hears for ‘dem Basques… not sure but Atlético Bilbao might still have a Basque players only rule… the Spanish top flight is probably the best division in football despite what the English say (Spanish teams hold both the Champions League and EURO Cup and both beat English teams in the final)… Barcelona vs Real Madrid is sort of like Rangers/Celtic from what we gather and experienced in Paris in 2003 when we watched the two go at it and the entire bar/lounge was a little too into the game
Best Name: Xabi Alonso
American Sports Team They Best Compare To: Okay think of a team that’s always good but always loses in the end, and when I say lose, they lose way before they should and to teams they shouldn’t lose too. Michigan and Georgia football come to mind, as do the San Diego Chargers, any team managed by Tony La Russa, the San Francisco Giants come to mind also… Texas football and White Sox baseball prior to this year sort of fit the bill… all of them have nothing on Spain.
For the Women: If they were shoes . . . Rupert Sanderson
Have been tipped by fashionistas as the next big thing for quite a few seasons now but, despite the obvious quality, they've yet to experience major mainstream success. Could this be their year?
Chances: They should dominate their group and then march on to the quarters where they’d probably face Brazil. The winner of that game, in our opinion here at VFLOAB will go on to win the World Cup. That means take Brazil and don’t look back.

Their Deal: They actually might hold Africa’s best chance to get a team into the second round, which is a bit of a bummer, since they’re probably the 3rd best African side, but play in a weaker group. Not bad, not good, shouldn’t cause too many problems, but shouldn’t be easy to break down.
Nickname: Les Aigles de Carthage (Carthage Eagles)
World Cup Best: Group Stage in 1978, 1998, and 2002
Stud Muffin: Honestly, I have no clue. Radhi Jaidi has a lot of caps and plays in England.
Random Thoughts: I’ve got to admit, I’ve always been intrigued by Carthage… you think they’d love to finish second and face France in the second round? I do... You know this is like the fourth country that’s a former French colony and can’t wait to play the French, yet do former British colonies have the same detest towards the English? Doesn’t seem that way… I’m looking forward to the Arab Battle of Tunisia v the Kingdom… I have nothing to add. And Spain was really long wasn’t it?
Best Name: Kaies Ghodhbane??
American Sports Team They Best Compare To: San Diego Padres… not bad… not good… and in the end, not much of a threat.
For the Women: If they were shoes . . . Clogs
Functional for sure but they offer a rarity value which makes them worth a peek. But, face it, the design is fairly basic and global domination is unlikely. May prove leaden-footed against quicker opponents
Chances: They could make the round of 16 if they could get a point off of Spain or beat the Ukraine. Says here they won’t.

The Cute Couple...

The Ukraine
Their Deal: Hey look! Andriy Shevchenko and his wife! And then Andriy Shevchenko and ten other guys! Or that’s what everyone and everything I read says. But they’ve become the dark horses for the tournament. I guess those 10 other fellas aren’t half bad. We’ll find out of course.
Nickname: Zbirna/Sbornaya (Selection, in Ukrainian and Russian)
World Cup Best: Well considering that they didn’t even exist as a World Cup team until 1991, this is their first trip.
Stud Muffin: Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea, formally of Milan) – He may be the best striker in the world… Henry would probably disagree, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone as good as Shevchenko. You know what - just watch his highlights set to SlimShady:

Random Thoughts: Is it The Ukraine or Ukraine? I like The Ukraine because then we’ve got a hat trick of The in the World Cup (The Netherlands, The Czech Republic, and The Ukraine)… When I woke up this morning, I never thought I’d find a video of the virtual Shevchenko scoring goals. But I did… Not like we needed a reason to root for The Ukraine, but Shevchoenko’s wife, Kristen Pazik, is American (Twin Cities baby) and also apparently attractive (this also means in about five years we’ll see Shevchenko in MLS!)… “I come from Ukraine. You not say Ukraine weak.”… Sweden called, they want their colors back… WORD UP, Orange revolution!
Best Name: Vladislav Vashchuk - sounds like someone should be playing for the Red Wings…
American Sports Team They Best Compare To: Carolina Panthers… both newer teams on the block… both have had a little success… both depend on one man to score (Shevchenko/Steve Smith)… can you tell I’ve been waiting a long time to use this one?
For the Women: If they were shoes . . . The golden boot
Proof of goalscoring prowess that's guaranteed to catch the eye and valuable enough to attract those who collect the world's most prestigious footwear. But as a unit you'd have to conclude that it's not particularly useful
Chances: A trip to the second round where they’ll probably face France. Seeing that France is France, an upset isn’t out of the question. Could they reach the semis? Probably not.

Spain (7), The Ukraine (6), Tunisia (4), The Kingdom (0)… and we hope the Kingdom goes out scoring no goals and getting 13 scored on them. Take your oil and terrorists and hang out with the Soviets.

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