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Sat 01/02/2014 - 00:50 EST

Now What: Who to Cheer on in World Cup 2014, Part 1

So now what? After Canada’s dismal World Cup qualifying campaign, Canucks from coast to coast will once again be cheering for their second team. For new fans this may seem a bit daunting, but don’t worry we’re here to help with our handy guide.

Our Contenders for the Best Runners-up

England
Nickname:  The Three Lions

Pros: England’s never say dive, run till you puke, guts over gory style is sure to appeal to hockey fans all over the nation. England’s Premiere League is by far the most popular soccer league on North American television, and pubs all over the country are stocked with first and second generation Brits who will gladly teach you all the songs and chants necessary to  cheer the Three Lions on to glory.  It doesn’t hurt Manchester United talisman Wayne Rooney is an entertaining, world class player.

Cons: Willpower will only get you so far, and it’s pretty hard to win a World Cup when your roster doesn’t have too many players who can do the little things… like pass a ball, retain possession, score a penalty, or make a legal tackle.  But, if you’re the type of fan who’s comfortable with an honourable defeat then the Three Lions may be the team for you.

 

Italy
Nickname:  Azzuri

Pros: Italian fans are fun, overly expressive pessimists who will wail unto the heaven until the moment the referee blows the final whistle and they’ve won the damn tournament.  Technically gifted, fashionably attired, and rock solid in defense, Italy have a strong tournament pedigree and are marshalled by the world best pure passer in Andrea Pirlo, and forward Mario Balotelli, who Sports Illustrated dubbed “The Most Interesting Man in the World” (sure, why not).  A safe bet for those fans who want to follow a team with a history of winning suspenseful low-scoring matches.

Cons:  If you’re one of those fans who watch the odd game and hates diving, just keep skip this section and go on to the next team.  Italy is notorious for what the English refer to as the “dark arts”: diving, feigning injury, cheap shots, and other manner of less than legal tactics.  Also their defensive counter-attacking may be something that appeals more to football purists than to novices.

 

Brazil
Nickname: Seleção

Pros: Pele, Rhonaldinho, Socrates, (fat) Ronaldo, Neymar….Brazil has produced more world class players over the past hundred years than any other nation, and it’s not even close.  Brazil plays a beautifully skilled game known as “Samba” that’s all offense all the time.  They are and will always be the show-time Lakers of world football.  They are undoubtedly the world’s most popular footballing team and wear one of the most iconic jerseys in all of sport. This year marks the first time since 1950 World Cup will be played in Brazil and they will be looking for their 6th title.

Cons: When Brazil aren’t winning they tend to implode in spectacular fashion (see World Cup 2010).  The casual fan may not appreciate their lack of composure when things don’t go their way, and there will be an insane amount of pressure for the Seleção to win the title on their home soil.  I’m worried someone may soil themselves in front of a worldwide audience.

 

Spain
Nickname: La Furia Roja

Pros:  Over the past 4 years, no team in world football has been as dominant as La Furia Roja.  Spain were so good, some journalists opined that they might be the best team in the history of international football.  Spain play an über technical style of football called “tiki-taka”.  Tiki-taka football basically means never, ever, ever, letting the other team touch the ball.  If you like watching a team who score a bunch of goals while make incredibly quick short passes for an hour and a half, Spain may be for you.

Cons: Spain are good to the point of pure arrogance.  During the last European Championships they decided to play without a striker.  Imagine if you went to a hockey game and the winning team pulled their goalie after three minutes, that’s Spanish football.  This is definitely not a team for those who like to cheer for an underdog.

Top Canada Betting Sites!

Our recommended list of Canadian sportsbooks to wager on the World Cup online.