The World Cup cometh. And Hell cometh with it. Say that five times fast.
I’ve boycotted the NFL for the upcoming season, so forgive me as I catch up with some light futbol territory that many others have already covered. Sadly, I could easily be boycotting FIFA and no one would bat an eye. It’s a shame how gross people corrupt the beauty of sport.
That said, the World Cup approaches.
Here in America, we’re less-than-enthused. We’ve always had problems qualifying, and this year, for a number of reasons (player development, starting players past their prime, a questionable youth program) we ended up on the outside looking in.
There were 27 possible W-L-D combinations between the US, Honduras and Panama tonight. Only 1 of 27 eliminated the US from the World Cup.— Dave Finocchio (@DaveFinocchio) October 11, 2017
It sucks, but it’s not really a surprise.
What is a quantum shock is looking over the teams in the draw and seeing that Netherlands and Italy (ranked 19th and 20th currently in FIFA ranks) are nowhere to be found. That should come as a seismic shock to both countries and both programs.
For the Netherlands it was some awful luck, specifically facing an insurmountable goal count deficit after Sweden degloved Luxembourg by eight — count ‘em 8 (!) goals. 8-0. That’s like a punchline score. And all the more shocking considering Luxembourg held powerhouse France to a nil-nil draw only a few weeks before. It’s so odd for me to see a World Cup without an orange jersey in it. I grew up as a pretty big Marco van Basten fan. And when I was younger I played several tournaments in Holland and the Dutch youth program with its concept of totaalvoetbal was light years ahead of our American one. (Frankly, it still is. There’s just too much to do in America.) But now Holland’s program needs a real jolt. I don’t know if they know who they are anymore at the close of the Arjen Robben era. But you can’t drop gimmes like the flaccid 2-0 loss to Bulgaria and hope to advance. They haven’t looked like the Netherlands we’ve come to expect for a couple of years now. So strange for a nation that placed 3rd in the 2014 cup.
Equally strange is the absence of Italy. I only caught about a game and a half, but it seemed like they were kept aloft in the UEFA Group G qualifying round by having shitters like 0-10 Lichtenstein keeping the naysayers at bay. Then there were rumblings of a mutiny and veterans against team officials and I can’t even remember all the drama. Southern Mediterraneans be hot blooded yo! Tough to say why it all fell apart, but getting shellacked by Spain certainly didn’t make shining a turd any easier. I’m going to just decide that the soccer gods didn’t appreciate the racist shit being spewed by Carlo Tavecchio and the fact that Italian football didn’t immediately show him the door. Italy vanishes from the big stage for the first time since 1958. Oof.
But let’s take a look at the teams that made it, and specifically at the looks they’ll be sporting in Russia.
What’s your favorite?
I know a lot of people dig on the checkerboard look but it’s not my jam, so for me, Croatia’s home jersey is cool, but not up high on my list.
Iceland celebrates their first Cup with a slightly new version of their look. I like the video more than the finished kit though.
It’s hard to break tradition if you’re a purist, but I like it when teams make slight augmentations to a known theme. In this Cup, some nations just stuck with the same look they’ve always had, which feels boring to me. No points for that. Looking at you, Sweden and Switzerland and I mean…Russia are you serious? You’re hosting FFS! You’re telling me that this is the best you can do on the world stage?
It reminds me of this old Wendy’s ad.
What an ad, by the way. My friends and I still quote it like 40 years later. Svimvear! Wery nice! And I love that eveningwear is just the same outfit but the lady carries a flashlight.
There’s something comforting about the Peru jersey. It’s just classic Peru.
But of the purist category, where you see the English and French and Brazilian kits and they all look right and just slight variations on a theme, I probably like Argentina the best. I’ve just always liked that Argentina look.
So what are the best kits?
My top 5 would probably be similar to what most people are saying.
Germany Away is up there as one of the two coolest standalone jerseys in the whole Cup. That said, the home jerseys are interesting and have that Adidas retro thing, but I kinnnnnnd of miss a tinge of the gold and red to go with the black. Just a tinge.
This little touch on the Japan numbers is so outside-the-box. I adore it.
This could have gone either way at the top two but green is my favorite color and while everyone has gone loco for the Nigeria away kit, which admittedly kicks all the ass, I just love the home kit. It’s as classically beautiful as the away kit is bold.
Goddamn, that’s a hot-ass look.
Fellow Pajibans! We’re only a couple of weeks away from the kickoff of the World Cup, which begins with host Russia vs Saudi Arabia on June 14th.
Will we see the inevitable powerhouse matchup of Brazil vs Germany in the final? Or will there be upsets along the way? It’s an exciting time for what we heathens call soccer.
Looking forward to watching with you all!