It’s World Cup season, and everybody is pumped. Literally everybody. 32 countries from six continents will compete for one of the greatest prizes in all of sports. 31 countries will walk away in defeat, while one will walk away with glory, national pride, and spiked birth rates.
Most of us are Americans. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Christian Pulisic and basically no one else, the United States will not be playing in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Who are we going to root for? Should we just be neutral? While Americans have a history of staying neutral until major events in Europe are almost over, I think that it’s better to root for a team throughout the entire tournament. Here are reasons to root for several different countries this summer:
Ah, England. The plucky underdogs. The 1980 US Men’s Olympic Hockey Team of international football. While this group of run-and-gun youngsters was robbed of a Cinderella story in Euro 2016 by the Iceland, they’re back and ready to take down larger, stronger teams like Argentina, Germany, or Panama. How could anyone root against a squad whose surrounding culture and media is so inspiring, and so pure?
At least Jaden Sancho is English, so… there’s also that?
Odds to win: Depends whether they draw Iceland in the Knockout Round
France seeks victory in Russia once again! Luckily for them, it’s summer this time, and Didier Deschamps, the man in charge, isn’t quite a raving megalomaniac.
Les Bleus are an up-and coming side, and many pundits think that 2022 will be their year, when they’ve got more experience under their belts and their stars are in their prime. Many others, myself included, believe that they’re ready to win now, with a squad that’s overflowing with talented players, including the likes of Nabil Fekir, Kylian Mbappé, and…
Oh… moving on.
Odds to win: Très Bien
This one is obvious. As Dortmund fans, we’re all fans of the Bundesliga, and Die Mannschaft features many of the Bundesliga’s best players.
There’s one glaring issue with this: 99.9999999% of the Bundesliga’s best players play for teams that we absolutely despise. Neuer. Müller. Hummels. Boateng. Kimmich. Werner. That’s not exactly a BVB-friendly lineup, if you know what I mean. While Marco Reus is included in Germany’s squad, he’s far from their centerpiece, and he may have to share minutes with other players. However, if you’re willing to look past league rivalries, though, then Germany might be the team for you.
Odds to win: Probably
Lionel Messi Argentina
2014’s runners-up are back, hoping to take that one extra step and win it all. I’ll cut to the chase: Argentina’s World Cup hopes will live, or die, on the shoulders of one man:
Just kidding. It’s Messi. Obviously.
The greatest player of this generation (you heard me) will have to play like a demigod if he wants to carry Argentina to World Cup glory. While he does have several complimentary pieces, like striker Paulo Dybala, Manchester City star Nicolas Otamendi, and a midfield which, to its credit, exists.
Odds to win: 10-1, or the Number of minutes played by Messi divided by the number of minutes played by players that aren’t Messi.
The Azzurri are back! After breezing through the group stage, knocking aside all challengers with their iconic stonewall defense, the Italians are ready to make another run at the World Cup, looking to become the first repeat winners since the new millennium. They feature many talented players including Mario Balotelli, Lorenzo Insigne, and…
Oh... never mind.
Odds to win: Same as the Dutch and the Americans
Much like the 2008 U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball team, the narrative for Brazil this summer will be redemption. After their humiliating defeat against Germany on home soil in 2014, they just need a respectable performance that can renew their country’s faith in their national team. Luckily, they’ve got Neymar, one of the best players in the world, and lots of quality complimentary players like Casemiro, Coutinho, and Fernandinho.
Odds to win: 7-1
These are some of the more popular choices, but there are still a couple dozen other countries to choose from. Maybe you’re a Minnesota Vikings fan and you like Iceland’s slow clap, or maybe you want to see Mo Salah lead Egypt to glory, or maybe you just think “Screw it, I’ll root for Serbia.” Whoever you end up cheering for, sit back, relax, and enjoy the next month of football, because it’s gonna be a good one.