Last, but certainly not least, we have the motley crew of Group D. With a pleasant mix of controversy (England and France, looking at you) plus a dash of mystery, Group D promises to have some fireworks in the group stage. France has been on a roll lately and will be the favorite to win the group, but don’t expect the English or the Swedes to just roll over and settle for second. I’m not giving Ukraine a chance and there’s no two ways to cut that.
Reasons to root for England
Steven Gerrard’s final dance. Steven Gerrard is one of the few mainstays on this England team that isn’t an asshole. Amongst a handful of other cliche’s, Gerrard has represented stability and leadership for the Three Lions and has recorded 19 goals in 91 international caps. It’d be nice to send out Gerrard on top in what will probably be his final major international tournament.
Who knew a bunch of imperialists could be so charitable? Did you know that the English national team donates all of their pay to charity? Me neither! The team donates to the Team England Footballers Charity, an organization that has raised over £1million for various causes such as bowel cancer and children’s hospice.
They’re lovable losers. It’s not just that the Three Lions have never won a Euro Cup. They haven’t even made a Euro finals. With all of their history in the game, you’d think that the English would catch a break at least once. Nope. They’re like the Cubs, except without the curse.
Reasons to root against England
John Terry is a prick. Euro 2012 is making a conscious effort to combat racism in the tournament — a worthy cause considering it’s 2012 and much of the world uses soccer as a platform for ignorance. Then there’s John Terry, the former captain of the English squad, who had a recent run-in with former teammate Rio Ferdinand’s brother that resulted in some racy remarks by Terry. Sure, he’ll be suspended when the club season picks up again. But isn’t it a little ironic that Terry is allowed to play in a tournament that is promoting racial tolerance?
1776. Up yours, Red Coats.
They dumped Simon Cowell on us. I blame Cowell for the influx of the insufferable “you’re going to make it as a star if you try out for this show” reality shows that flood American television every week. Cowell is a pompous asshole who has a sense for half-decent alternative rock stars and suddenly this makes him the king of England. He needs to go the way of fellow Brit Gordon Ramsay and get sniped by a hard tackle.
Fun Facts about England
England consumes more tea per capita than any other country in the world. Someone needs to explain to me where the ‘all the tea in China’ saying comes from. Sounds like England is stacking Earl Grey and chamomile higher than the Chinese.
John Stafford wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” for America. It’s the least they can offer after occupying the Land of the Free with oppressive taxes for more than a century.
London is the largest city in Europe. Despite the Germans burning half of it to the ground during World War II, London still trumps other large metropolises such as Paris and Berlin. And they have those cool red phone booths for the nine people who still need to use a pay phone.
Reasons to root for France.
Riding the hot hand. The French are a much different squad from the embarrassment that went to the World Cup in 2010. New manager Laurent Blanc has Les Bleus unbeaten in their last 20 matches. Might we have a rekindling of the magic of 1998 all over again?
You enjoy the finer things in life. Arguably the greatest contribution the French have given us are crepes — mini pancakes stuffed with all sorts of awesome fillings. Sweet or savory? How about both. And then there’s wine — a process that the French have nailed. If you love getting down on good food or a nice glass of merlot, you might as well support the country that does it better than anyone else.
French Polynesia. Like the Brits, the French know how to DIAL UP some imperialism for lesser nations. French Polynesia is half a world away from the mainland and yet France keeps the islands around like an old person hanging on to a Palm Springs summer home. Tahiti is supposed to be famous for black sand beaches, which sound like all kinds of awesome.
Reasons to root against France.
The French don’t even like Les Bleus. This is a nation that threw tomatoes at their national squad upon their return home after the World Cup in 2010. The French have no problem turning against their own team. And if the French can’t even root for Les Bleus, then why should you?
They’ll throw a mutiny quicker than the pirates on the Black Pearl. If you couldn’t tell, the French had a rough go at the 2010 World Cup. Half of the team threatened to walk out on training because of the exclusion of Nicolas Anelka from the international team. Then-manager Raymond Domenech had absolutely control over his team. With a handful of wild cards on the squad, team chemistry on the French side can be considered questionable at best.
They have an international label for being pushovers. How many times do we need to wear out the joke about the French never winning a war or doing anything right?
Fun Facts about France
French is the official language of the United Nations. It’s appropriate that they pick a romance language for a forum of international negotiation. Better that than a harsh language like German where it sounds like you’re pissed off even if you’re asking a simple question.
French toast and french fries aren’t actually from France. And they’re Freedom Fries now to you, good sir!
Disneyland Paris is the most visited attraction in France at over 13 million visitors per year. This astonishing attendance number is higher than the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre combined. I love Disneyland as much as the next person, but if I’m going to France, I doubt I’m going to make plans with Goofy instead of priceless works of art and the Eiffel Tower.
Reasons to root for Ukraine.
Against all odds. Ukraine is co-hosting the tournament and they’re going to need every ounce of help from the home crowd to have any chance at winning a match in the tournament. They’re short stacked on talent and the few good players they have will be missing the tournament due to injuries. Ranked 50th in FIFA’s rankings, any win by the Ukraine would assuredly be the upset of the tournament.
The Ukraine is game to you? The Ukraine is not weak.
What’s shakin’ bacon? Ukraine has a reputation for being a large consumer of bacon. And while statistics may suggest otherwise, I’m going to suggest you go with your gut and buy into the label that Ukranians inhale massive quantities of bacon every year. What better way to survive the Ukranian winter than by putting on a few lb’s with a bacon diet?
Reasons to root against Ukraine.
They’re shitty. Let’s be honest; unless you have a strong Ukranian heritage, there isn’t a viable reason to start rooting for this shitty Eastern European team that won’t survive the first round. This isn’t even a group of death and I’m not giving Ukraine a chance to win any games. The good players are hurt, the bad players are going to see tons of minutes, and we’re going to see tons of goals going into the Ukranian net.
That whole nuclear meltdown incident. And no, I’m not referring to the performance by the Ukranian national team when they play soccer. Chernobyl was one of the largest nuclear disasters in world history and ultimately end up crippling the Soviet economy with its’ damages. How depressing is the image of the radioactive ferris wheel? A ferris wheel is supposed to be a joyful activity. Instead, this ferris wheel has enough radioactivity to melt your face off. Screw that.
One of their main exports are humans. Can you believe that over 100,000 Ukranians are trafficked out of the country every year — most of them women and children being sold into labor camps or prostitution. And I’m supposed to root for a country that can’t put forth a more conscious effort to stop that? Yeah, right.
Fun Facts about Ukraine
None. Nothing is fun in the Ukraine.
Ukraine turned down the opportunity to acquire enough nukes to rival Russia and the United States in the race for nuclear supremacy. That’s right — all the chips were on the table and the Ukranians walked away. Hats off to them for not getting involved in a nuclear stand-off.
Ukranian police solve 90% of crimes in the country. A bunch of Jimmy McNulty’s over there in Ukraine. And I’m sure Ukranian police officers follow all the rules and protocol when interviewing suspects too. Using excessive force to extract information from suspects? Never!
The third busiest McDonalds in the world is located in the capital city of Kiev. The Ukranians just can’t get enough of Bic Macs. Ukranians and myself…not so different!
Reasons to root for Sweden.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is awesome when he tries. Ibrahimovic has been quite the polarizing player in club soccer for the last handful of years. For being so physically gifted, it’s shocking that he can’t turn the switch on and dominate more. Ibrahimovic will be counted on to flip the switch in this tournament if the Swedes want to advance. When he plays well, he’s a fun player to watch. Fingers crossed!
Good tunes? Great tunes. Electronic house music has become incredibly popular largely due to the Swedes. Their largest exports are timber, iron ore, and great DJ sets from the Swedish House Mafia. Maybe the Swedes would play better if Seabastian Ingrosso was firing off beats after every Ibrahimovic goal.
Reasons to root against Sweden.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. The Swedes only have to travel 90 miles by bus during the entire group stage. England, meanwhile, has to travel over 3,400 miles. That’s insane. Any team that gets such a lopsided advantage like that has to be cheered against.
You’re not blonde. I swear every Swede is blonde. And I’m also pretty sure that if you’re not blonde, they won’t let you into their country. That’s just what I heard. So screw ‘em.
They’re just so neutral. Sweden never stirs the pot internationally. They just stay in their borders and mind their own business. The last international conflict that Sweden was involved in happened at the turn of the 19th century. Over 200 years of doing nothing but sitting around talking about how blonde they are. I don’t know about you, but I like a little controversy with my national team.
Fun Facts about Sweden
IKEA and H&M are the two largest retail stores in Sweden. IKEA was an obvious one — but did you know about H&M? Both of those places kick ass. And IKEA serves up Swedish meatballs at their stores, which makes a visit there even more awesome.
Swedes have the longest life expectancy in Europe. What’s better than having tons of gorgeous women in your country? Outliving the rest of Europe while enjoying the tons of gorgeous women in your country.
Sweden phased out petrol for biofuel. I love where their heads are at with this one. Their national colors are yellow and blue, but it might be time to add green to that mix. Am I right, guys? Am I right?