The Casual Fan’s Euro Preview Part II: The Cool Countries (and Croatia)

So the first weekend of the Euros is in the books and everything went exactly as I predicted: Denmark was the dominant force I made them out to be against Netherlands, Russia displayed the best offense of any team in the tournament and Portugal and Germany struggled to get a goal on the board between them. OBVIOUSLY.

Okay so yeah, in case it wasn’t already apparent, take all of my predictions with a grain of salt. They are purely the product of whatever the caffeine/Adderall/bath salts decide to spontaneously projectile vomit out onto Microsoft Word during the “writing process”. I put writing process in quotes because that disingenuously makes it sound as if there is rhyme or reason to it, whereas the more appropriate term might be “Mental Gravitron meets prose Jai-alai”.

Also, here’s the official goal song of the Euros. It’s the White Stripes unnecessarily mashed up with what appears to be a sample from every shitty racing game soundtrack ever. First of all, they really couldn’t find a single European artist for the theme to the European championships?  7 Nation Army is now officially on the fast-track to surpass Rock & Roll pt. 2 as the most played-out song at sporting events. It’s currently tied with the timeless Who Let the Dogs Out?! And does anyone at FIFA headquarters recall the last notable seven nation army in Europe? I’ll give you a hint- the starting lineup featured Germany, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia and they were better known as the AXIS POWERS. Euro 2012—We don’t condone any form of racist, ignorant offensive behavior…now feast your ears on our perplexing and tasteless theme song!

Anyway, I’m posting Group C today and Group D tomorrow because it’s 1 in the morning I want to spread out the posts. Now, onto more of the erroneous team profiles!

 Group C

Country: Croatia

Known for: God this is a bleak nation, (*note to self in 2016- stop leading off with the obscure countries; also, good luck in your second season in the NBA) Well the late, great Drazen Petrovic is from Croatia, so there’s that. They love checkered-patterns, which I respect. Oh and they hate Serbia, which I think everyone can get behind.

Best Player: Luka Modric, Midfielder, Tottenham

Why root for them: Well, for starters they looked great in their 3-1 opening win against Ireland (these previews are so much easier when the games already happened!). One team always seems to go on an Cinderella run in these tournaments and why the hell can’t it be Croatia? They did that to an extent in the ’08 Euros, beating Germany and winning their group before getting knocked out by true-Cinderellas Turkey. Modric is a legitimate star in the world of soccer, capable of manufacturing goals against the best in world. Something called a Mario Mandzukic (Wolfsburg) scored two goals in the opener, so that’s nice.

Why root against them: Croatia’s only really been an independent nation since 1991, and I have a firm policy against rooting for any nation that’s younger than I am. I don’t need some team winning the championship then celebrating on stage by blasting Demi Lovato and asking the Ukraine to buy them 4Loko.  Rooting for Croatia means you’re rooting for a generation of Twilight-obsessed jackals who tirelessly inject their vapid opinions into every trending topic on Twitter. I will not stand for it.

Country: Republic of Ireland

Known for: Leprechauns, Bono, the Blarney Stone- three entities equally matched in contrived-significance and positive impact on the world.

Best  A Player: Robbie Keane, Striker…LA Galaxy.

Why root for them: Why not? You’re probably Irish, or at least you pretend you are when other people are talking about their own (probably made-up) Irish heritage. The Irish love to party, they have a tremendous drinking holiday and they love Jesus but hate following any of his teachings- they’re like pale Mexicans but with cooler accents and zero work ethic. The Irish are everyone’s favorite underdog, and with a 3-1 loss to Croatia under their golden-buckled belts and games against Spain and Italy remaining, they’re now absurdly huge underdogs. That’s fun! Okay, rooting for Ireland while sober is wasted energy, but you’re reading this section and you’re fake grandfather was born in Dublin so you’re probably not doing anything sober. Cheers!

Why root against them: What a shocker that a group of Irishmen opened the tournament by getting people’s hopes up before leaving them utterly disappointed and entirely unsatisfied. The Irish are so collectively horrible at sports that after failing at European football and American football, they invented Gaelic football so they could play amongst themselves and actually win something. Please ignore the chronology of the previous sentence. Honestly, we all love them, but there’s just no point in rooting for the Irish in anything besides their own glorified backyard fantasy games like hurling and the aforementioned Gaelic football. They’re going to lose. I’m sorry, but it’s true. They can’t even get their own traditional folklore right. First of all if Saint Patrick was really a saint he would have killed all of the snakes in Ireland, not driven them to third-world countries where they still kill people to this day. And leprechauns? Really? The de-facto mascot of Ireland is a mischievous, diminutive guy with goofy headwear who hoards gold coins. Congratulations, Ireland, your folk legends are Jewish.

Country: Italy

Known for: Being hilariously corrupt; diving; gesticulating wildly; being a vacuum of integrity.

Best Player: Mario Balotelli, but only if he’s taking his pills, soo…Andrea Pirlo, midfielder, Juventus

Why root for them: The Italians have an intrinsic obligation to be dramatic. It’s in their blood, along with marinara sauce, extra virgin olive oil and just a pinch of basil. In sports, it makes for great TV, as Italy’s games are nothing if not controversial and histrionic. In real life though…well, it makes for even better TV. Take Italian icon Silvio Berlusconi, who literally might be the most interesting man in the world. The billionaire media mogul has such greatest hits as: Buying AC Milan and arriving at the training facility by landing a helicopter in the middle of the field with Flight of the Valkyries blasting on the stadium speakers; composing AC Milan’s anthem, and releasing four equally-awful studio albums; leveraging his TV channels and ultra-popular soccer team into somehow being elected Italian prime minister; dropping such knowledge while prime minister as calling Mussolini “benign”, telling earthquake refugees to look at it “as a weekend of camping”, calling Obama “handsome, young and also suntanned” while congratulating him on being elected, and referring to himself as both the Jesus Christ of politics and a taller Napoleon. Oh and then he got the boot as prime minister after he was caught having sex with an underage girl at his famous “bunga-bunga” sex parties. He’s like if Charlie Sheen and your creepy drunk uncle combined forces and were somehow elected to govern the world’s tenth-largest economy. Had I not been there before, I would think that Italy isn’t actually a real place.

Why root against them:  Did you read the previous section?? Those people are lunatics. You can’t trust them. Electing Berlusconi prime minister would be like if we elected Jose Canseco District Magistrate. Also, their soccer teams are largely controlled by the mob, hence the Italian team headquarters getting raided by police last month as part of a match-fixing scandal involving Juventus manager Antonio Conte. This, by the way, is the second major match-fixing scandal in the last six years for Juventus, which is Italy’s most popular club team. Their fans are also incredibly violent and wildly racist. Oh and a match in their top league was stopped  this season when the home team’s hooligans threw flares, stormed the field and demanded their own players remove their jerseys because they were playing so poorly.  Everything in Italy is corrupt- soccer, politics, even the Vatican! You know when John Calipari leads a team to the Final Four and everyone reluctantly buys in even though we all know that those banners are coming down in a couple years because of NCAA violations? That’s EVERYTHING in Italy all the time. In Italy, everyone is John Calipari.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Balotelli, who is legitimately insane. Despite being only 21 years old, he’s already approaching Metta World Peace-levels of outlandish behavior. Among the highlights of his young off-the-field career: He drove into a women’s prison “because the gates were open” and wandered around before getting caught and questioned for a half hour. He crashed his Audi A8 and told investigators he was carrying £5,000 in cash “because I’m rich”. He threw darts at members of the Manchester City youth team and has been in numerous fights with teammates. He set his house on fire because he was lighting fireworks off in his bathroom, and he was caught playing on his iPad while on the bench during an Italian match. Oh and he might just be the best striker in the world when he’s got his head on straight, which is almost never the case.

Country: Spain

Known for: Tapas! The Gasols. Eating strange meals at strange times.

Best Player: Xavi, midfielder, Barcelona

Why root for them: Spain’s easily the most fun team to watch in this tournament thanks to the embarrassment of riches they feature at nearly every position. Xavi runs the show as the maestro of their symphonic offense, which features world-class players like Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona) and Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid). Even casual fans could probably name a half dozen players on Spain. They’re so loaded that their bench would literally be the fourth or fifth best team in the tournament.

Why root against them: Because you’re a front-running douche if you root for Spain. Obviously. The Spaniards are coming off a World Cup win and a Euro 2008 title and boast one of the most impressive pools of talent Europe has ever seen. If you’re deciding on which team to root for in this tournament and you choose Spain then you are an awful person and I hope you never again win anything ever in your life. They are the Miami Heat only they play in a more Americanized city and have 18 stars instead of three. You are only allowed to root for Spain if you’re using your “obsession” with Catalan culture to camouflage your embarrassing lisp.

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