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July 21 preview: Don’t bet your Swiss bank account on any of them June 20, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Hair, World Cup 2010.
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Portugal vs. DPR Korea

Key questions:

  • Will Portugal convert to socialism like the last team the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ripped to shreds? After DPR Korea left Brazil a withered husk of a football team on Wednesday, both Brazil and South Africa converted their entire economies to socialism on the spot and embraced Kim Jong Il as their supreme leaders. Will Portugal do the same after DPRK’s first goal, or will they wait until the end of the game?
  • How much will it suck if Portugal wins? Considering a Portuguese win would leave the Seleccao a drab stalemate with already qualified Brazil away from the Round of 16, a loss by the glorious DPR could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to ruin this evil capitalist sham tournament by effectively knocking out the Ivory Coast, a far more attractive and compelling side than Portugal.
  • How embarrassing will it be when Cristiano Ronaldo can’t even score against the glorious DPR?

Key man: Jong Tae Se. The Ivory Coast’s subsequent hiding by Brazil proved that Sven Goran Eriksson’s team isn’t as defensively sound as I first thought. In turn, that proved that Portugal is really bad at things like moving and penetration. The glorious DPR can certainly stop Portugal from scoring on a good day. People will call it a surprise, and if they do they are idiots who simply haven’t been paying attention. Jong, though, will need to translate his passion into goals to make it matter.

Key hair: Raul Meireles v. Mun In Guk. Will the Glorious Democratic People’s players see Meireles’ cropped-sided neo-rent-boy look as indicative of everything they’ve hated about capitalism since they first saw a Swiss pay toilet? Will the Glorious Democratic People’s censors think it so decadent and bourgeois they refuse to air the game in the first place? And can Meireles even be expected to bother showing up if his opposite number, Mun, has hair so dizzyingly similar to the rest?

Chile v. Switzerland

Key questions:

  • Does anybody actually want Switzerland to win? Before I begin, can we pretend I just made a cheap joke about Swiss neutrality and move on with our lives? I really don’t want to go to the trouble. Anyway, with Switzerland being painted as the loutish villains that stifled The World’s Most Gloriously Perfect National Team™ off the field and Chile anointed The World’s Second Most Gloriously Attacking National Team™, there’s probably only one “neutral’s choice” (hence my earlier request that you pretend I made a joke). One must question why smaller countries like Switzerland are even allowed to turn up at World Cups if all they do is play well and get surprising results against the favorites.
  • Do you believe in miracles? In the wake of Chile’s shaming of Honduras, while some praised the South American team, others said a “team that defends properly” would destroy them. This seems to reflect the popular wisdom: You don’t win football games by scoring goals and playing better, you win them by man-marking. When teams get the ball back, it must be because of good defending, but when teams get into positions to score, it’s obviously because of bad defending. Or it could be that having six players attacking at all times is simply going to create problems for any defense. No, that’s daft, isn’t it? It would take a miracle for Chile to win.
  • How many Swiss-related cliches can you stand? I’m going to consider it a testament to my personal fortitude if I can sit through ten uses of any of the following terms: “Swiss watch,” “Swiss Army knife,” “Swiss cheese,” “Swiss Miss.”

Key man: Jorge Valdivia. In the absence of recognized forward Humberto Suazo, Valdivia, a playmaker by nature, will be expected to make like a Swiss Army knife and perform a different function: center forward. If he does, Chile will run like a Swiss watch and make Swiss cheese out of the Swiss defense. Beware, though, because as he demonstrated against Honduras, he’s well capable of the occasional Swiss Miss. If he performs, though, the Chileans will delight the neutrals — that’s right, even the notoriously impartial Swiss!

Key hair: Arturo Vidal v. Ludovic Magnin. Is it hard for Magnin to play and deliver his trademark set plays without eyebrows? Will Vidal’s towering little fin make up for Chile’s height disadvantage?

Spain v. Honduras

Key questions:

  • If Spain wins, will Spain again be the best team in the world? Everyone spent the build up to Spain v. Switzerland talking about how Spain would really get the tournament going. Then Spain fell flat on its face. Now nobody wants to talk about Spain because it’s the same old Spain. But if the Spainiards can run up a big score against Honduras — which, judging by a limp Honduran performance against Chile, is pretty likely — maybe everyone will love them again.
  • Should anyone take Honduras seriously? I mean, come on, they’re certainly worse than England and France … Oh, wait.
  • This is a walkover, right? Yes, just like Switzerland.

Key man: Wilson Palacios. He is suspiciously similar to Spain’s rejected midfield hustler Marcos Senna, so perhaps he’ll be motivated to strike like the avenging angel of undersized, energetic central bruisers to Senna Vicente del Bosque out of the World Cup.

Key hair: Ramon Nunez v. David Villa/Fernando Torres. Carlos Pavon’s Predator-style mop gives a minnow like Honduras some flair, but the douche-nozzle sideburns on Nunez have no place in any team. Meanwhile, whomever wins the battle to start between Torres and Villa may also win the title of pukiest bro-cowl: Torres’ has that infuriating Cracker Jack-box quality to it, but Villa has a very objectionable soul patch.

Predictions:

Portugal 0-1 DPR Korea, Chile 0-0 Switzerland, Spain 6-0 Honduras

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