Pro-tip: England won't win the World Cup. As a result, it's vital you don't botch picking a second team to support if you're to derive any pleasure from the next month. Thankfully we're compiled one damn good reason for and against supporting each team at the tournament.
Not read part one? Thought it was so good you want to read it again? Check it out here.
Support: Rafa Marquez. Somehow still only 39, which is weird because I genuinely can’t remember a time when Rafa Marquez wasn’t around. Think back. Your tenth birthday party? There he is, in the corner dressed as Legolas. Your wedding day? Over there, he’s getting off with your ex-girlfriend Ellie (she’s moved on quickly, Christ). Rafa Marquez is the Keyser Söze of football. Speaking of usual suspects, Chicharito’ll be up front too, sniffing around the six-yard line like, well, Adrian Mutu sniffing a six-yard line.
Swerve: Sombreros, droopy moustaches, ponchos – they’ve the worst costume options. Go to a fanzone dressed as Mexico? You’re essentially Super Mario, who isn’t even Mexican, and at that point you deserve to be stuck in a fanzone in fancy dress you absolute prick.
Support: Medhi Benatia. If you’ve not seen the video of him getting ignored by two women on a podium, you must – then support Morocco purely out of solidarity. Because one day you’ll get totally rejected by a cute boy or girl in a nightclub, and guess who’ll be waiting for you at the bar with a voddie lemonade and Toploader lined up with the DJ? Medhi Benatia.
Swerve: Their national hat is the fez. You don’t want people shouting “Just like that!” at you for three weeks.
Support: They’ve drawn Argentina in FIVE of the last SIX tournaments. Somewhere in Lagos there’s a clinic for former Nigerian goalkeepers suffering from PTSD. Those brave, sweet boys. Also their kit – ooh matron.
Swerve: You can shout until you’re blue in the face that John Obi Mikel is a brilliant number 10 for Nigeria, cruelly blunted by Jose Mourinho. But if, like me, you paid to watch Chelsea between 2006-2017, you too would have been forced to watch Mikel hit slow, feeble, lazy, uninspired, languid, lacklustre, insipid, tedious, slothful, sluggish, stale, vapid, torpid, banal, leaden, lethargic, otiose, apathetic, drowsy, indolent, languorous, listless, stagnant, ailing, lifeless passes out to his full back. And I just can’t let that go.
Support: Roberto Nurse and Rolando Blackburn sound like characters from Toast of London. Eric Davis and Harold Cummings sound like comedians from the 1970s. All four together sound like pornstars. Let’s just hope they don’t f**k Gareth Southgate. I’m so sorry for that image – the wordplay really wasn’t worth the troubling mental pictures.
Swerve: Remember the Panama Papers, those offshore millionaire deposits? Well if you’re the kind of country who want to help Lewis Hamilton, Bono, Madonna, Kiera Knightley and the Royal Family dodge taxes, I can certainly do without you, and we all hope your canal leaks.
Support: Give them a hand, they’ve not been in it for 36 years. Absolutely belting away strip: a single diagonal white stripe cutting across a heraldic shade of red. Get yourself one of these pronto, you’ll look like a sexy grenadier.
Swerve: I can’t take Peru’s star player’s name seriously: Jefferson Farfan sounds like a jazz trumpeter, or a well-hung farmer in a racy southern 19th century novella.
Support: Scrabble-clinchers Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski. Fabianski has cleaned up his act recently, like a goalkeeping Frankie Boyle. They could be dark horses. Actually ‘dark horses’ might be a step too far – perhaps ‘tanned ponies’, or ‘grubby cows’.
Swerve: Some Billy Big Balls down the pub is certain to wax lyrical about Piotr Zielinski, flavour of the gossip columns based on not that much. Zielinski is becoming William Carvalho – linked with every major club every single day, despite nobody ever actually seeing him play. Manager Adam Nawalka is hawk-like and scary, like a doctor who makes anthrax as a hobby.
Support: Of all the teams, these are the hardest to like, not least for their traditional defensive, direct and dirty football. You’d solely support these lads based on the tanned handsomeness of Rui Patricio, who only a fool wouldn’t admit is a tall glass of water and no mistake.
Swerve: Biggest bastards at the tournament? No? Pepe, Bruno Alves, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dicky Quaresma? Told you. The best thing about this lot is Quaresma’s inevitable outside-of-boot googly, and that Nani isn’t going.
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A pair of absolutely timless sh*tters.
Support: Fyodor Smolov, Alan Dzagoev and particularly Alexander Golovin are anticipated to perform well, and have the added bonus of sounding like three warring patriarchs in a Chekhov play.
Swerve: Igor Akinfeev is the best-worst keeper you’ve ever seen, and seems to have been around since Glasnost. The entire squad has also just been cleared of mass doping, which doesn’t arouse suspicion in the slightest.
Support: One of the easier groups – they’re with Russia, Uruguay and Egypt in Group A, also known as the Group-Of-Historic-And-Present-Human-Rights-Abusers (but I wouldn’t say that too loudly in Rostov town square, where there’ll more bugs than a salmonella convention).
Swerve: In January, their General Sports Authority loaned six players from the Saudi Premier League to La Liga clubs and three more to the Segunda División, in a deal that wasn’t in the slightest bit murky and I for one believe that. Imagine being a Villareal player, incredulous as some random fella sits next to you in the dressing room. A bit like how Didier Drogba must have felt in June 2007 when Steve Sidwell and Tal Ben Haim wandered into Stamford Bridge. Baffling.
Support: Try and mix it with Stoke’s Ndiaye, Everton’s Gueye and West Ham’s Kouyate, you’ll leave bruised as an emotional peach.
Swerve: Their set pieces make Tony Pulis have a long hard look in the mirror – and nobody wants that, not even Tony. Kouyate, Sakho and particularly Napoli’s Koulibaly – they gon’ get ya. Koulibaly isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he’s a tank in tank’s clothing going to a tank-themed party dressed as a tank.
Support: Last chance to have a look at Sergej Milinkovic-Savic before Jose Mourinho signs him and promptly drops him for Scott McTominay.
Swerve: Shaven head mandatory. Also, if there were a ‘Racism World Cup’, Serbia would win it comfortably, seeing off ‘1980s Chelsea’ in the final.
Support: Fans’ cracking coordinated routines. Son-Heung Min and Ki-Sung Yueng in direct competition for the Most Luscious Hair prize, which knowing FIFA will become an actual award to try and distract us from the absolute shit-show coming in Qatar 2022.
Swerve: Germany will probably ensure they don’t make it out the group in their third game, also known as the Battle of the Most-Efficient-National-Ethic.
Support: They’ve the depth to leave out an entire XI: Casillas, Bellerin, Marcus Alonso, Sergi Roberto, Javi Martinez, Fabregas, Mata, Vitolo, Pedro, Callejon and Morata. That XI would categorically beat England.
Swerve: Almost cheating because David De Gea won’t and can’t concede goals. Also Sergio Ramos – the bastard’s bastard.
A bloke whose antics are becoming completely unreasonable.
Support: If only for memories of Joe Cole’s howitzer in Cologne in 2006. “Joe Cole. Why not? Swinging shot… Brilliant! Why not!?!”
Swerve: Without the Zlatan, they have a strikeforce of Ola Toivenen and John Guidetti, formerly of Sunderland and Stoke/Burnley. I’m more anxious about a possible remake of Escape to Victory than I am of those two.
Support: Xherdan Shaqiri – name of a cocktail, mind of a fox, thighs like Xenia Onatopp from Goldeneye. You can’t miss him – he’ll be the one dragging a huge sign around his neck which reads IN THE SHOP WINDOW.
Swerve: Dull as arthritis. Liven things up by drinking whenever Granit Xhaka loses the ball – by half time you’ll be arm wrestling for shots and telling everyone you were once a great beauty.
Support: They’ve got Wahbi Khazri, who was electric for ten minutes every Sunderland game before reverting to manual for the remaining eighty.
Swerve: As our first opponents, paranoia has set in. Who are they, and are they any good?? Tunisia was location of the classical city of Carthage. So are these fellas to be feared as the ancient world feared queen Dido of Carthage, scourge of the Mediterranean? Or are they more like Dido, queen of electro pop epics like ‘White Flag’ and ‘Life for Rent’, scourge of my childhood holidays? We. Just. Don’t. Know.
Support: Fernando Muslera leaves you reeling between laughter and tears, like a goalkeeping Four Weddings. Boss Oscar Tabarez may have seen better days but the leathery old boy’s ever-so-lazy eye, immaculate haircut and walking stick combo means he’s a shoe in for the next Bond baddie.
Bet he really regrets this photo now.
Swerve: Two awful men. Fanged guttersnipe Luis Suarez, and Edinson Cavani, essentially Tommy Wiseau but worse at finishing things off.