The World Cup is here again! World football's quadrennial spectacular showpiece of the best the game has to offer, and we've got it all right here on TheSpoof.com in our Russia World Cup 2018 Survival Guide, Comrade!
The tournament kicks off on Thursday 14 June for some reason, which is a bit of a strange day for the opening match, if you ask me. Russia play Saudi Arabia, and the game starts at 10pm, Cambodian time.
You'll have to work it out for yourself, if you don't live in Cambodia.
There are 8 groups with four teams in each group, which means 8 x 4 = 32 teams. It's all going to be very, very, VERY exciting indeed, with all your favourite footballers like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pelé and Raheem Sterling gracing the barren wastelands of Russia from Kaliningrad in the west to Ekaterinburg in the east, and from St. Petersburg in the north to Fisht - yes, 'Fisht! - in the south. You hadn't heard of Fisht, had you? Here, then, is a complete Russia World Cup 2018 Survival Guide Breakdown Of The Groups:
The groups look very interesting in the way they have been drawn out. For example, in Group A, three of the teams contain at least one letter 'u' in their name, and Uruguay contains three! The other team in the group, Egypt, contains a 'y', and the only other team in the entire tournament that contains a 'y' in its name - apart from Uruguay - is Germany, champions in 2014!
Is fate trying to tell us something?
Group B is made up of three-near-neighbours: Portugal, Spain and Morocco. Pundits think that some of the players might know each other. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, and the fourth team in the group is Iran - which is an anagram of 'rain' - but the least said about Iran, the better.
Group C is France, Denmark, Peru and Australia. Paddington Bear turned up from Darkest Peru, according to Michael Bond. I don't know if anyone has realised this, but if you rearrange the letters in 'Peru', you can come up with 'Pure'. And ... they play in white!
Could they be the 'darkest horse'?
Group D contains Argentina, Nigeria, Croatia and little Iceland, who humbled England in the last World Cup. They won't be quite so cocky this time around, will they? Or maybe they will - who cares?
Group E is made up of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
The Swiss are rather an unknown quantity. What is known about them, is that they make excellent watches. Costa Rica are making the numbers up, and Serbia is a dark, sinister place with a poor reputation for starting World Wars. Brazil will have to try to forget the 7-1 mauling they received at the hands of Germany last time round. Let's hope they don't.
Group F has Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in a very competitive tussle which could see any of the four teams go through, and any of them go out. That's football for you, I suppose.
Group G is England's group. They will try to get enough draws to somehow sneak through to the next round on 'goal difference'. They will almost certainly be beaten by the superior Belgians, but might just be lucky enough to score an early goal against either of the other minnows Panama or Tunisia, and then hang on like grim death.
England, however, have by far the best hooligans in this or any other group.
Group H is made up of Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan. This is the 'forgotten and unfancied group', but this label might be a little unfair. For instance, it's worth remembering what happened to Colombia captain Andrés Escobar after the 1994 World Cup in the USA when he scored an own goal in the 2-1 defeat to the hosts. Escobar, such a clean and fair-minded defender, he was given the nickname 'The Gentleman', was murdered after he returned to Medellin, by a gunman who shot him six times, shouting 'Gol!' after each of the shots. Escobar was already famous amongst Colombians for once saying:
"Life doesn't end here."
Hmm. Now, who could forget that?
And Japan - who could forget their 'Divine Wind' pilots, the Kamikaze? Throwing caution to the divine wind, they gave their all for the glory of the Empire, even though, in the end, it wasn't enough.
And the Poles, upon whom England has, throughout history, relied so much. Not only during World War Two but also in the last, crucial moments at Waterloo, (though the Duke of Wellington would rather you didn't know it!), the Poles were often the 'deciding factor' in English fortunes!
And who were the others? Oh, yes, Senegal. I forgot. I unfancy Senegal.
So, now the groups having been fully analysed, it just remains to pick a winner. I, myself, am not really sure. Germany always seem to find a way to the final, no matter how good or bad their form coming into the tournament is, and Argentina are a little bit similar. Brazil can never be overlooked, but with both Italy and Holland failing to qualify, maybe it's the dawn of a new age in football, and I'll go for Australia, or South Korea.
Shows how much I know about football!