So You Got Hooked on Soccer and Need a Premier League Team…


Welcome, friends, to the 2018-19 English Premier League season. If you’re thinking last season just ended, it did– soccer offseasons last about three weeks, particularly in World Cup years. Oh, yeah, the World Cup happened this year, didn’t it? I bet you watched it, didn’t you? Yes, you, the one reading this right now. You got so hooked on futbol that you’re looking to latch on to a Premier League team, aren’t you? After all, not only is the Premier League the richest and deepest league in the world, it’s also the most easily consumable for American audiences. Thus, following the Premier League is fun. Waking up Saturdays and Sundays and having sports before the sports you already watched is a true joy. I’m glad you’re on board. No offense to all those other rinky-dink leagues like the Bundesliga or La Liga or Serie A or Ligue 1, but you’ll find no Messi or Ronaldo talk in this space. This is all about helping you, the neophyte, find your new club to support every time they take the pitch (learn the lingo, plz. That’s step one). This is an important decision in a person’s life, and one that shouldn’t be made willy-nilly. Watch a few games. Find out which players or playing styles you like or dislike. Look inside yourself and determine how much you care about other people’s opinions and how much you hate yourself (spoiler alert: I rank highly on both scales). And, most importantly, read this guide again and again. These are all the reasons you should root (or not root) for all twenty Premier League teams. Choose wisely.

180px-arsenal_fc-svgArsenal– 2017/18 finish: 6th

Why Pick Arsenal? Do you like theoretical greatness? Do you like teams that play aesthetically pleasing, attacking styles that always seem to fall apart at the worst times? Do you prefer your players small and injury prone? Do you like funny fan reaction videos? Then Arsenal is the team for you! Arsenal can be low-hanging fruit in recent years, but this is still a stacked roster and there’s only so bad they can be. There’s also no telling how good they can be if everyone has their heads on straight (far from a guarantee).

Best Player: Kind of a hard choice on this team but I’ll say Mesut Özil, who is mercurial as they come, or so the press would have you believe. He’s also one of the most talented playmakers in the world and can make passes few players can. Even with all the attacking talent on this team, Arsenal goes as he goes.

What Will Other People Think of You? That you wanted to pick a Big Six team but wanted to do it ironically. Also, you’ll be called a bandwagon jumper if you don’t have at least fifteen “Wenger out” tweets in your history.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? A lot. Arsenal is in the unenviable position of facing huge expectations every year despite a lack of recent results. Call it Cowboys Syndrome. It’s a no-win situation barring a league title, and, spoiler alert, they’re not winning the league this year.

How Good Will They Be? If everyone was just sick of erstwhile manager Arsène Wenger and his old school approach and will play harder and be more focused now, they’ve got the quality to land a Champions League spot. But what if Wenger was the only stabilizing force keeping the whole thing from falling completely apart?

170px-afc_bournemouth_28201329-svgBournemouth– 2017/18 finish: 12th

Why Pick Bournemouth? If cherry is your favorite flavor, have I got some news for you! Also always wind up playing a bunch of randomly exciting games and usually give the big boys a hard time.

Best Player: Don’t necessarily have one guy so let’s say Simon Francis since he’s the captain and their most important defender.

What Will Other People Think of You? That you picked the most random team you could find.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? Not much. Bournemouth has settled nicely into a nice mid-table niche, free from any and all pressure. As long as you’re okay with not winning.

How Good Will They Be? Probably exactly the same as last year.

200px-brighton_26_hove_albion_logo-svgBrighton & Hove Albion– 2017/18 finish: 15th

Why Brighton? Because Lewis Dunk tied the record for most own goals in a season, which is a perfect metaphor for willingly choosing a team like Brighton.

Best Player: Lewis Dunk for the aforementioned record.

What Will Other People Think of You? That irony is a large part of your personality.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? As much as someone who supports the whimsically named Seagulls can.

How Good Will They Be? Not particularly.

180px-burnley_f-c-_logo-svg Burnley– 2017/18 finish: 7th

Why Pick Burnley? You know how every year there’s an NFL team that uses a weak schedule to build a falsely-impressive record, and then everyone picks them the next year as a dark-horse contender, only now they have a tougher schedule and the weight of expectations so they struggle? This is Burnley.

Best Player: James Tarkowski. Picking a defender as a team’s best player isn’t quite as abstract as saying an offensive lineman is an NFL team’s best player, but still, I dare you to tell me Tarkowski isn’t good. What do you know about good defending? You’re just a n00b. Probably think it’s called soccer, or something.

What Will Other People Think of You? That you’re preposterously self-conscious. You clearly wanted a winner but didn’t want the stigma of picking a Big Six team. It’s okay to admit you like watching the best teams, man. Just pick United.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? Probably a lot. Jumping on board in the post-surprise season is always risky, especially now that they have to play Europa League games, too.

How Good Will They Be? Won’t get relegated or anything, but to expect another top-7 performance is lunacy.

200px-cardiff_city_crest-svgCardiff City– 2017/18 finish: 2nd (in Championship)

Why Pick Cardiff City? Why indeed.

Best Player: I could literally say any name here and you’d believe me. I could make up a name and you wouldn’t know. If I said Cardiff City’s best player was Junior Hoilett, you’d just accept it as fact.

What Will Other People Think of You? That you were literally born and raised in Cardiff.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? Clearly not much if you can afford to invest so little in sports that you’re picking Cardiff City as your EPL team.

How Good Will They Be? Next year we’ll look back in surprise and ask “Cardiff City was in the Premier League?!?”

200px-chelsea_fc-svgChelsea– 2017/18 finish: 5th

Why Pick Chelsea? You love emotional roller coasters, you love seeing young players succeed on other teams after you give up on them, you like shady Russian businessmen, you think defense wins championships and stats are for losers, blue is your favorite color, you’re only happy when the players on your team are unhappy and in open rebellion against the coach.

Best Player: N’Golo Kanté. Imagine Lionel Messi, but instead of scoring goals he took the ball from the other team.

Other Best Player: 

What Will Other People Think of You? That you think you’re smarter than everyone because you picked the least aesthetically pleasing Big Six team, or that you think you’re smarter than everyone because you watched Napoli when they were flying high (their new manager comes from Napoli, where they scored at will), when in reality you just remember Didier Drogba was good in FIFA.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? Even with all the drama, they’ve still won two of the last four titles, so clearly not that much.

How Good Will They Be? Legit don’t know where the scoring comes from if/when Eden Hazard leaves, so a spot in the Champions League might be in jeopardy this year.

Crystal Palace– 2017/18 finish: 11th

Why Pick Crystal Palace? Because you consider your favorite website! Join me in supporting Crystal Palace if you dare (just kidding, don’t. I like it better when I’m the only one that likes something). Why did I pick Palace? Because when I got back into soccer I needed a team, and I thought Crystal Palace was the coolest team name I’d ever heard. Since all my American teams were among the best teams in their respective leagues (and still are), I knew I couldn’t pick a Big Six team, lest I be accused of front-running, a deep fear of mine. As such, I committed to Crystal Palace. As an added bonus, they’re in London and have a good amount of money, so they won’t ever really be that bad!

Best Player: Wilfred Zaha. Walmart Neymar is the end-all, be-all for the Palace attack. If he gets hurt/regresses in any way, they’re gonna have some ugly, ugly games.

What Will Other People Think of You? That you’re smart, funny, handsome, strong, have good taste, is really fun to be around, have a ton of friends, have a ton of confidence, have a rich and fulfilling personal life, definitely aren’t kind of a loser who plays too many video games and feels like they’ve wasted large portions of their life, and that you kind of picked a team at random.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? A lot. Think of Crystal Palace as an NBA team that’s always the 7th seed. They should be better than the teams that are treading water and staying in the league, aren’t even in the same zip code as the Big Six, and have no real way to get better. But we have the GOAT studio host Rebecca Lowe, though.

How Good Will They Be? Anything above 9th is a great season, so expect a nice 12th place finish.

220px-everton_fc_logo-svgEverton– 2017/18 finish: 8th

Why Pick Everton? You’re addicted to rooting for teams who are on the verge of taking “the leap” every year but never really do.

Best Player: They’d better hope it’s new addition Richarlison because they spent a lotttttttt of money on him. They spent a lot of money, in general, actually.

What Will Other People Think of You? That you have a closet full of Landon Donovan and Tim Howard jerseys.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? You are a danger to yourself. Everton has disappointed on expectations roughly 1,000,000,000 seasons in a row and is usually depressing when they do it. Last season was particularly bleak, so much so that I was stunned they still finished 8th. Don’t bother learning the names of the managers, they tend not to last long. They’re also sponsored by Umbro, which is a bad sign.

How Good Will They Be? They’re likely to be the best non-Big Six team, and made a few legitimately interesting moves during the summer. A Europa League spot should be attainable, barring a typical Everton malaise.

150px-fulham_fc_28shield29-svgFulham-2017/18 finish: 3rd (in Championship)

Why Pick Fulham? You’re a big Jags fan, you remember Clint Dempsey (USA had a soccer team, once), you want to root in a team from a posh area, you like boring jerseys.

Best Player: Young winger Ryan Sessegnon. He’s the apple of many huge teams’ eye, but he’s still in West London (for now).

What Will Other People Think of You? That you’re either a Jags fan or remember Clint Dempsey.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? Choosing a newly promoted team likely to stay up shows a healthy level of self-love, because it shows you’re easy to please and don’t care too much.

How Good Will They Be? Okay.

150px-huddersfield_town_a-f-c-_logo-svgHuddersfield Town– 2017/18 finish: 16th

Why Pick Huddersfield? I honestly don’t know why you would.

Best Player: Aaron Mooy, who answers the age old question, “what if Jonjo Shelvey wasn’t raised by meth dealers?” (soccer guys will get that)

What Will Other People Think of You? That you only brought up the fact that you like Huddersfield to trigger a “oh, I’m sorry,” response.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? Willingly attaching yourself to a dead-team walking is an interesting strategy, to be sure. I guess you just want to feel any emotion at all, even if it’s the stinging loss of a relegation season.

How Will They Be? How do I put this? Umm, well son, Huddersfield isn’t dead, they just went to live in a farm upstate with the rest of his family.

220px-leicester_city_crest-svgLeicester City– 2017/18 finish: 9th

Why Pick Leicester? I’ll be honest, I couldn’t pick Leicester. I don’t have nearly enough self-confidence to constantly deal with accusations of frontrunning. It’s been three years, now, but the high of the most unexpected title in sports history is still there. It completely defines the team, as it should. Actual Leicester fans are good for life, now. Literally nothing can take away the fact that they, a random, non-Big Six team, won a title in a sport designed to keep the little guys down. Jumping on now just seems counter-intuitive. They also might not be very good this year.

Best Player: Jamie Vardy. Dominated in their title season and was quietly fourth in the league in goals last year, guy just knows how to score goals and start bar fights.

What Will Other People Think of You? That you still listen to “Took a Pill in Ibiza.”

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? I don’t know. Probably not that much if you’re so comfortable with your own ignorance that you don’t understand that they will never ever ever ever ever ever have a season like 15/16 again.

How Good Will They Be? They won’t get relegated, or anything, but they keep losing players, including Riyad Mahrez, their former best player. This season won’t be anything to write home about.

170px-liverpool_fc-svgLiverpool– 2017/18 finish: 4th

Why Pick Liverpool? They’d be the team I’d pick, were I not already committed to #PalaceLife. They’re exciting, have a distinct playing style (Jurgen Klopp is one of the Managers You Need to Know), have one of the best players in the world, have a fun song, and have a ton of history. They’re also owned by the same people that own the Red Sox, if that changes your opinion (I despite Tom Werner and John Henry with a passion, and always will no matter how many World Series the Sox win under them).

Best Player: Mo Salah, who just set the record for goals scored in a 38-game Premier League season. He’s good.

What Will Other People Think of You? That you like Big 12 football, that you’re trying to get on the train early, that you might be a hooligan in training, that you’re probably easily triggered online, that you like to say “27 ringzzz,” that you think Steven Gerrard was better than Xavi.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? Not much, because Liverpool is probably the most entertaining team in the Premiership and could make a title run this season.

How Good Will They Be? Could suffer a post-hype decline, but in a world where Manchester City didn’t exist, they might be title favorites.

200px-manchester_city_fc_badge-svgManchester City– 2017/18 finish: 1st

Why Pick City? They just had the best season ever, so that could be a deciding factor. They’ve turned the art of goalscoring into a coldly efficient science that could, if viewed through a cynical lens, sap the joy out of the game.

Best Player: Kevin De Bruyne, who is rapidly rising the All-Time Ginger Athletes list. Another exceptional season could see him challenge Brian Scalabrine.

What Will Other People Think of You? Whoo, boy. Picking United is one thing. Picking City means you will get literally no respect from anyone. It might be the worst team you can pick from an intelligentsia point of view. They’re the definition of nouveau-riche, have no history (no good history, at least), and are the perfect bandwagon team. If you can’t prove you were there when they weren’t even in the top flight, don’t bother.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? I envy your self-confidence. A new money team coming off the best season in league history that spends more money than any non-Manchester team in Europe? Couldn’t be me picking them, that’s for sure.

How Good Will They Be? They’ll win the title.

220px-manchester_united_fc_crest-svgManchester United– 2017/18 finish: 2nd

Why Pick United? Alright, I know that even you know Manchester United. It’s the most popular team in the world, and for good reason. Just not lately. Because Jose Mourinho (another Manager You Need to Know) sucks the life out of teams then blames everyone else when things don’t go his way. But, hey, they still finished 2nd last year. Also probably the coolest roster top-to-bottom.

Best Player: Paul Pogba, who you surely remember from the World Cup. He was on France! And they won! He’s one of the most talented players in the world, and, when given literally any freedom at all, can totally dominate games. The only problem is Jose never gives him freedom and randomly benches him. Such is life.

What Will People Think of You? That you’re probably also a Yankees-Cowboys-Lakers fan.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? It’s not so much how much you hate yourself, it’s how much everyone else hates you. When you, Manchester United fan, complain about not winning a title in five years next to Huddersfield Town guy you look pretty bad.

How Good Will They Be? They’ll finish 2nd or 3rd.

200px-newcastle_united_logo-svgNewcastle United– 2017/18 finish: 10th

Why Pick Newcastle? If you love owners who inject themselves into every story, both because of their stubbornness in doing things Their Way and their general ineptitude, have I got a team for you! If you pick Newcastle, you’d better learn everything there is to know about Mike Ashley, because you are going to hate him.

Best Player: Jonjo Shelvey, who answers the age old question, “what if Aaron Mooy was raised by meth dealers?”

What Will Other People Think of You? Probably just that you like Newcastle beer.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? You are crying for help. No team is a bigger roller coaster than Newcastle, and Ashley will never let it not be so.

How Good Will They Be? Pretty decent, if I had to guess.

180px-fc_southampton-svgSouthampton– 2017/18 finish: 17th

Why Pick Southampton? Don’t. They had a great run earlier this decade by virtue of one of the best youth programs in England. That program has dried up and all the good players they produced are gone. They’re not long for this world.

Best Player: I guess James Ward-Prowse because he’s good at free kicks and free kicks are cool.

What Will Other People Think of You? Probably that you’re a weirdo for picking Southampton.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? Very much. Only a glutton for punishment would take a team like this at this stage in their history.

How Good Will They Be? Bad. Very, very bad.

100px-tottenham_hotspur-svgTottenham Hotspur– 2017/18 finish: 3rd

Why Pick Tottenham? Tottenham is like the Falcons: high flying, fun to watch, capable of moments of utter brilliance, one of the best all-around teams in the league, and will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever win anything. It’s just not in their DNA. No Community Shields. No Carabao Cups. No FA Cups. Certainly no European titles. And, of course, no league titles. If you want that constant tease of being the best team not to win, be my guest.

Best Player: Harry Kane. The World Cup’s Golden Boot winner was pissed he was denied a third straight Premier League Golden Boot last season. He’ll come back with a vengeance.

What Will Other People Think of You? That you drink yourself to sleep every night.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? In a weird way, not really. Much like the Cubs and Red Sox, at a certain point not winning becomes your identity and you don’t want to win the title. After all, if you lost the losing, what’s left to live for?

How Good Will They Be? For much of the season they’ll be within striking distance of the top, only to lose one or two key games that cost them a Champions League spot.

185px-watford-svgWatford– 2017/18 finish: 14th

Why Pick Watford? You like Elton John, right? Of course you do. Everyone likes Elton John. “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Daniel?” Can’t beat it. Elton John likes Watford, you know. Used to own them.

Best Player: Elton John. The famous songsmith had a good season in front of goal last season, racking up 15 goals. He’s looking to build on that and is reportedly in the best shape of his life.

What Will Other People Think of You? That Saturday Night is your favorite time of the week.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? You get so mad watching your team you’ve created an alter-ego named “The Bitch.”

How Good Will They Be? I fear the Sun will go down on Watford this season.

185px-west_ham_united_fc_logo-svgWest Ham United– 2017/18 finish: 13th

Why Pick West Ham? Tertiary Harry Potter character Dean Thomas is a West Ham fan, so there’s that. No, I didn’t look that up. It’s been in my brain for like, fifteen years. I retain information well, deal with it.

Best Player: Call me crazy, but I kind of like this roster, particularly newly acquired midfielder Felipe Anderson. They badly needed a new midfield presence this year, and he should provide a bit of a creative spark.

What Will People Think of You? That you have good taste in jersey colors.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? Much like Manchester United, it’s more of how much people will hate you, only this time, it’s the West Ham fans themselves. They don’t like change very much and won’t readily accept a new member to their ranks.

How Good Will They Be? Going for that upper-mid table finish, boiii.

200px-wolverhampton_wanderers-svgWolverhampton Wanderers– 2017/18 finish: 1st (in Championship)

Why Pick Wolverhampton? If you’re Portuguese, they literally acquired every non-Ronaldo Portuguese player to ever play this offseason. They’re also in the nice position of being a newly promoted team that could actually be pretty good, which means more money, which means better players, which means more money, and on and on it goes until they max out at a 6th place finish.

Best Player: I don’t know if he’s their best player or not, but Adama Traoré is awesome. Watch this highlight video:

What Will Other People Think of You? That you live in Brooklyn Seattle and love wearing knit hats 24/7.

How Much Do You Hate Yourself? A lot, only because you care about seeming smart to other people so badly that you picked the up-and-coming hipster team.

How Good Will They Be? They do reek of “too much, too fast,” but they could be a good team. Competitive, at the very least. They won’t be relegated for a while.

There you have it. All twenty teams. Do you have a better idea of who you like, now? You better, because I certainly don’t feel like doing this much work again. For the first few weekends, don’t be afraid to experiment. Watch a bunch of games, figure out what you like. Inevitably come back to the Big Six because who in their right mind would pick anyone else? The only thing that matters is that you’re joining an exclusive club. A group of people who wake up early on weekends, pick up a few breakfast sandwiches, turn on the tube and watch some EPL all morning before watching football all afternoon. Maybe only I do that, but you’ll like it, I promise. The Premier League is the most popular sports league in the world for a reason, and I’m glad you’ll be there to find out why.

Brininho’s Den World Cup Thoughts: Final Edition


Can’t believe it’s already been a month since the World Cup kicked off. We’ve come a long way since Russia decimated Saudi Arabia on opening night, and I think we’re all better people for it. My beloved France (as I said in my All-Hair Team, I took French from 4th grade to my senior year of high school, so if anyone’s allowed to jump on the bandwagon, it’s me) lifted the famous old trophy as World Cup Champions Champions du Monde. Thrilling final for a thrilling World Cup, and it’s only gotten me more hyped up for the 2022 World Cup, which will inevitably boil down to a USA vs. Ireland final. But before we look too far ahead, let’s take one last look back at the World Cup that was.

  • I feel very vindicated as a longtime Paul Pogba stan. I realize I haven’t discussed a ton of footy on here (will try to get more up as the Premier League season approaches), but Pogba is one of my favorite players to watch. He’s so goddamn cool and smooth and talented, and managers simply cannot figure out how to use him right. Jose Mourinho tries to fit a singular talent into his no-frills, no-fun strategy, Didier Deschamps tells him he’ll be spending most of the game as a glorified David Luiz. Just put him out there and let him do whatever he wants. He’s someone who can completely dominate games if you let him, and I just hope someone does soon.

  • If I could be anywhere in the world at any point in history, I think I’d choose to be at whatever fast food joint Harry Maguire and Harry Kane went to after losing to Croatia. I’d partake as well, sure, but I’d just want to observe. I know for a fact they each spent at least $25, which is at least $60 in regular, non-fast food money.
  • People forget Harry Kane is a huge Pats fan, which means not only is he smarter than he looks, but I am proud to call him my Golden Boot winner. His one open play goal came on a bizarre deflection off his heel, a perfect representation of not only the Harry Kane experience as a whole, but this World Cup in general.
  • Congrats on the Golden Generation on achieving what no Golden Generation has done before- winning the World Cup third place game. I can’t imagine how good it feels to prove all the pundits right when they called Belgium the future of the sport.
  • Congrats on the other Golden Generation at this World Cup for achieving what no Golden Generation has done before- getting blown out in the final. People forget Croatia had a Golden Generation, too, and their’s actually has some mental toughness. Just ran out of gas against better competition.

  • Have to address it: the Putin umbrella picture-Listen, Putin’s a scumbag but if you don’t at least respect this then you’ve never been caught in a rainstorm. If you rule your country with an iron fist, you’d better have an umbrella guy if you want to be taken seriously on the world stage.
  • That being said, and not to get too political here, but I’m starting to doubt Putin’s toughness a little bit. You let Pussy Riot dunk on you in public again? Dude, just have them all killed, what are you doing? Unless you want to tell me Pussy Riot is actually run by the state to try and convince the world there’s some political resistance to Putin’s reign, I can’t think of a reason why they’re still alive. If you’re the president of Russia there are literally no laws. You can do whatever you want. Pussy Riot’s been making you look like an idiot for like six years now and they’re still alive? Couldn’t be my dictator, I’ll tell you that much.
  • Luka Modric wins Golden Ball as the best player, which I have no issue with, but Eden Hazard and Antoine Griezmann winning Silver and Bronze Ball, respectively, is incorrect. It should have been Modric Gold, N’Golo Kanté Silver, and either Paul Pogba or Kevin De Bruyne Bronze.
  • The haters will say Kanté had a bad final, and he did. But (putting on my snarky internet guy hat) if you actually watched France play you know he was their best player all tournament. They pretty much built their entire strategy around him and his unique skills. If Les Bleus was a sports car, he’s the engine and the driver.
  • Big tournament for dads everywhere, as defense claims their first major championship in many, many years.

  • Getting your silver medal in the pouring rain seems like the worst thing of all time.
  • R.I.P. to one of my favorite things to do- reminding all the n00bs that wonder how much Mbappé will be sold for that he’s already the second most expensive player of all time and PSG would be idiotic (i.e., forced by UEFA) to sell him now.
  • The Official Brininho’s Den Team of the Tournament- GK- Thibaut Courtois, Belgium, Defense- Thomas Meunier, Belgium, Raphael Varane, France, Domagoj Vida, Croatia, Benjamin Pavard, France, Midfield- Luka Modric, Croatia, N’Golo Kanté, France, Paul Pogba, France, Forwards- Kylian Mbappé, France, Harry Kane, England, Neymar, Jr., Brazil
  • Remember when Robbie Williams performed at the opening ceremony? So weird thinking back on that.
  • Best goal of the tournament:

  • I hope all the journalists who had been detained for suspicion of possibly complaining about the Russian conditions are released safely, but i wouldn’t count on it. Safer to just keep in the the gulag where they can’t squeal.
  • Once more, for old time’s sake

  • I didn’t think I would ever see a beatdown quite like the national anthem battle between France and Belgium, but I guess I underestimated the badness of Croatia’s national anthem. Listen to this:

  • Now listen to this:

  • Honestly amazed they even played the game after that bloodbath.
  • While it was nice being able to just enjoy what was easily the most entertaining World Cup since 2014 without having to worry about America’s shortcomings, I’m just itching to see the boys get back out there and start disappointing again. 2022’s gonna be amazing, particularly since they’re going to 48 teams. It’ll be impossible to miss it, now!

That’ll do it for the 2018 World Cup. It was a wild ride, and I won’t be forgetting it for a long, long time. For anyone who was neutral that got hooked on soccer, congratulations. For anyone who was a hater but is warming up to the beautiful game, we’ll be here waiting for you to see the light. And for those of you who might actually care about soccer for more than a month at a time now, welcome to the good side. Club seasons start in less than a month, with Champions League not far behind. Need a team? Fret not, fair reader, for I’ll have you covered in due time. For now, just enjoy the afterglow of a wonderful international tournament as you prepare for the club experience, where there’s more goals and better fútbol. It’s great, trust me. Go Crystal Palace.


2018 World Cup All-Hair Team


The World Cup 2018 Final is set. France vs. Croatia. No, I’m not crying out of sadness that the World Cup is ending. I’m crying out of joy that my beloved France is going to hoist the old trophy once again. I took four years of French in high school (got a 2 on the AP exam, what’s up?) and may or may not have some French ancestry, so I’m practically a native Frenchman. In fact, you could call me a Nice Guy. Get it? Because Nice is a city in France. I actually do love this France team, though, even though I’ve been fairly lukewarm on them until now. Watching Paul Pogba play for his international side reminds me of why I fell in love with him (and soccer after a lengthy period of being a dumb hater) in the first place: when unbound by the oppressive shackles of Jose Mourinho, he’s just really really cool and fun to watch (#analysis). Mbappé is obviously awesome and, in a just world, N’Golo Kanté would be named Player of the Tournament (I’ve decided that this is the soccer equivalent of saying J.J. Watt should have won MVP during his dominant seasons). Plus, the next time they don’t have great jerseys will be the first. And yet, despite all that, we live in a world where it isn’t really that crazy to think Croatia will win the World Cup. 2018 is wild, man.

But we’re not here to talk about boring things like on-field results and post-tournament awards. We’re here to talk about the real honor: the 2018 World Cup All-Hair Team. The eleven players who displayed the highest hair acumen and execution. Now, we’re unfortunately no longer in the era of experimentation. For the most part, there’s three styles you’ll see: buzz, undercut, and bun/ponytail. Gone are the days of Zidane and Ronaldo (original). As such, players who took risks are rewarded, here. The All-Hair Team isn’t just a magazine of cool styles you can show your barber. It’s a tribute to risk-takers and those confident enough to stand out. So, yes, quality is always rewarded. But if a player’s hair isn’t the first thing you notice about him, how can he really be part of the All-Hair Team? The answer is he can’t. So, without further ado, the All-Hair Team. We’re going with a 4-5-1 because that fits our players best.

Manager- Hervé Renard, Morocco

There’s a lot of personalities on this team. A lot of divas. A lot of guys who think their hair gives them free reign to do whatever they please. I need a manager who can bring everyone together. A manager who doesn’t take any guff and has the full respect of the locker room. A manager with hair that can go toe-to-toe with any of his players’. That can only be one man- Hervé Renard. One look at him tells you everything you need to know. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he has the best manager hair of all time.

Goalkeeper- Kasper Schmeichel, Denmark (captain)


The captain of the All-Hair Team couldn’t rely on tricks and gimmicks for his look. He needed some of the best hair the world has ever seen. I was wondering if we would see someone like that at this year’s tournament, but, like a ray of light sent from above, Kasper Schmeichel’s glorious locks shone down upon us. A truly stunning head of hair. Fair, soft, perfectly coiffed. It somehow got better the sweatier he got, which, needless to say, is high degree of difficulty stuff. He was already a legend from Leicester City (and his father), but this hair performance is the kind of thing that leads to a big money transfer. I’m proud to call him my captain.

Defense- Domagoj Vida, Croatia


I’ll be honest, when you combine the hairline with the overall quality of hair, this is one of the worst looks of all time. But I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s been stuck in my mind since the group stage and only tightened its grip on my brain as they’ve advanced to the final. Isn’t that the true spirit of the All-Hair Team, in the end? To say this wasn’t one of the eleven most memorable haircut of the World Cup would be disingenuous. Plus, I’m not going to be the one who tells a guy named Domagoj he didn’t make the cut.

Defense- Román Torres, Panama

In an era where everyone is constantly changing their hair and no one has a signature style, this is a signature style. The Brian Grant of world football, Román Torres’s dreads add a different flavor to what can seem a very one-note group of ‘dos. Is he a powerful center back or a beach bum permanently on island time? Who knows? That hair isn’t giving any clues, that’s for sure.

Defense- Harry Maguire, England

They say pets resemble their owners, and I think the same can be said for hair. Just like the body it belongs to, this hair is thicc as hell, and is the perfect combination of goofy and suave. I’ll be honest, I love Harry Maguire (I don’t even want to know how much Taco Bell he crushed after losing to Croatia) and kind of just wanted an excuse to put him on this team. He brings a much-needed carefree attitude to this group of primadonnas, and will undoubtedly be the glue that holds the locker room together. Probably takes him ten seconds to get his hair ready, which will diversify the styling approaches on the team.

Defense- Toby Alderweireld, Belgium

As textbook “soccer haircut” as it gets. Short fade on the side, slicked back up top. About ten million of these to choose from, so the fact that Toby stood out (and I needed another defender) says a lot. Can teach the other players a lot about precision and what to tell your barber to get what you want. Also definitely uses some questionable hair products that he gets from “his guy” that may or may not be the result of illegal animal testing. He’ll hook you up if you want, though.

Winger- Willian, Brazil

Don’t care if it’s 1818, 1918, or 2018. Good afros always play. Willian has a good afro. Apologies to Axel Witsel, but only one afro per team.

Midfield- Valon Behrami, Switzerland

I respect anyone who clings to vestiges of the past, and my man Valon’s trying his hardest to keep the bleach blonde look alive. Unfortunately, I was still unable to make my own decisions when this craze was still widespread, otherwise I undoubtedly would have joined in. If I were but a few years older, I would be able to insert a picture of my younger self with platinum blonde hair for your enjoyment. Alas.

Midfield- Diego Laxalt, Uruguay

Speaking of keeping old fads alive. I don’t mean to insult the good people of Uruguay, but if their players are still rocking cornrows in 2018 I doubt they’ll see this post for another decade or so. They’re going to love Lost, I can feel it. I’m worried what will happen to Diego’s psyche when he finds out that Luis Suarez bit some people a few years back. Might kill Uruguayan team chemistry, but luckily there’s only man from Uruguay on this roster.

Midfield- Rúrik Gíslason, Iceland

You may know him as Iceland’s resident male model, I know him as a man with an all time head of hair. He was in strong contention for the captainship, but I need someone’s who’s actually good wearing the armband. I think he technically played, but Rúrik Gíslason didn’t make the All-Hair Team for his futbol prowess. Like Loki, he stole the goddess Sif’s golden locks, but instead of using her hair for nefarious gains, he decided to start wearing it himself. If Chris Hemsworth ever feels like stepping away from the moviestar life, I know someone who can take his place.

Winger- Neymar, Brazil


The ultimate chameleon, Neymar had new hair every game, each one of them money. Took a lot of heat for flopping and rolling around on the ground too much, but he should have been getting praise for his willingness to try new hairstyles. It takes a brave man to go with some of the looks he did, and that courageousness is what gets him a spot on the All-Hair Team. He brings flair and an inimitable style, and, barring a complete loss of hair, he’ll be headlining the 2022 All-Hair Team, as well.

Striker, Always and Forever- Olivier Giroud, France (co-captain)

The true G.O.A.T. Giroud has a permanent place on the All-Hair Team, the All-Style Team, the All-Beard Team, the All-Handsome Team, every possible team that isn’t related to scoring goals. He’s the only one on the roster who made it before his team played a game. He is, quite possibly, the most French person to ever live and I mean that as a positive. I don’t think he owns a winery but at the same time why wouldn’t he? He was born into a finely tailored silk swaddling cloth and was suckled on a bottle of cologne. He is the face of the All-Hair Team, and I couldn’t feel better about having him up top.

I would like to remind any potential haters who might disagree with this team that the All-Hair Team is chosen by a committee of some of the finest styling minds in the world. I am just their herald, revealing their divine choices to the uncultured masses. So don’t direct your qualms at me, maybe direct them inward and wonder why you have such bad taste. As for the water-boy on the All-Hair Team, well, I think yours truly has it locked up.

Cristiano Ronaldo to Join Juventus


Welcome to the Summer of GOATs changing teams. First LeBron, now Ronaldo (co-GOAT). If Celine Dion takes her act to the Venetian in the next couple months we’ll really be seeing something special.

This has been kind of a weird saga since, if you’ve been paying attention, this move to Juventus was first reported about a week ago, no one on either side came close to denying it, and the final fee (€100 million) was the exact number that was first reported. So why the delay? Who knows. Maybe to give him time to write his Player’s Tribune article open letter to the fans. Or to try and upstage as much of the World Cup as possible. Or, more likely, to iron out the contractual kinks. Whatever the case, a new species of goat in coming to Torino (if you opt to say the Americanized Turin I hate you. Torino is so much better to say. Literally every single Italian city name is better in Italian and for some reason we felt the need to make worse versions of them because most Americans are too stupid to pronounce things correctly).

So why did CR7 want out? I’m guessing he was just kind of burnt out at Madrid. It’s not like he needs to move to win, or anything. Real literally can’t stop winning trophies. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Sometimes you just need to go somewhere with laxer tax laws. I won’t lie and tell you I’m an expert on Serie A, but something tells me they’ll have no problem letting Ronaldo skate by without paying his taxes if he’s still Ronaldo.

As for what this means for Serie A and the world at large, I don’t imagine much changing. Juventus won the league last year (and pretty much does every year), and something tells me adding Ronaldo won’t hurt their chances at adding another title to their cabinet. They’ll probably be a really fun team to watch, but I’ll be honest, you’ve gotta be a real diehard to regularly watch Italian league soccer. I don’t even know what network it’s on, but I’m guessing every time Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain start up front together they’ll play this:

Champions League will be the best time to watch them, and that’s where this move will have the biggest impact, anyway. Juventus was always kind of a secondary contender, a team that was always deep in the tournament but never a serious threat to win, but now they have to be taken seriously. For me, there are now six teams who could legitimately win the 2018-19 Champions League: Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City. It’ll probably just be Real again because, you’ll never believe this, they’re still super stacked and will probably just go out and buy Harry Kane or something. But the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to like Juventus’ chances. They could very well be the highest scoring team in Europe this season, and, even without Gigi Buffon, they still have one of the strongest defenses in the world. It’s a strong take, but I think the team with Cristiano Ronaldo has a chance to go really far in the Champions League.

The most fascinating part of this for me is the transfer fee of €100 million. I realize that every transfer market is different, Ronaldo is 33, and PSG felt like they had to extravagantly overpay, but it’s crazy to me that Neymar is viewed as twice as valuable as Ronaldo. Soccer is a young man’s game, but there’s been no drop-off from Ronaldo whatsoever to this point. In many ways he’s getting better, just like Tom Brady or LeBron. I think he’ll stave off a drastic decline through sheer force of will and remain, at the very least, a world class striker for another three or four years. Does anyone have any doubt who’s going to lead Serie A in goals this season? Hint: it’s going to be Ronaldo. All things considered, €100 million for Cristi might turn out to be a massive bargain. I love this for Juventus, and if I’m a Real Madrid fan I don’t think I could ever forgive the Spanish government. Some things are bigger than civic duty, and keeping GOATs happy is one of them.

Brininho’s Den World Cup Thoughts, Business End Edition


We’re officially in the nitty-gritty of the 2018 World Cup. The cheese is getting a little more binding with each passing moment, and the mere contenders are being separated from the potential champions. You’ll never believe this, but Brazil is looking like the team to beat. When are we going to get the takes that Brazil ruined fútbol by having too many good players? Or is that strictly an NBA complaint? Probably just NBA. Anyway, one team has already secured its place in the semis, and the other three spots will be filled by the end of the day tomorrow. Only a few more games of Cup action left, so make sure to cherish them. World Cup 2022 might never even happen.

  • I think it’s finally time I weigh in on the take that was sweeping the web during the group stage- if you legitimately think watching games on Telemundo is the superior viewing experience I hate you. It’s such a try-hard, “Look at me I just started watching soccer yesterday so I think it’s cool when people go crazy in other languages” move. It’d be like writing a series of blogs about the World Cup despite having inconsistent (at best) soccer coverage during the rest of the year. Saying Telemundo is better is the biggest soccer-noob move out there. Be better.
  • Such a bummer we didn’t get the GOAT-off. Especially after Uruguay pooped themselves against France. If David Stern is really bored in retirement, I’ve got an idea for his next project.
  • After much deliberation, I have decided that, if I ever pull the trigger, the one jersey I’ll buy from this World Cup will be the France white:It’s just so clean, plus the red and blue heather-effect? And the rooster logo? I put that on and I’ll be looking like Oliver Giroud in no time.
  • Japan with one of the worst losses of all time. Just brutal, but at the same time the most predictable outcome of all time. Tough to be the first team Belgium doesn’t fold against when they’re faced with the slightest hint of adversity. Japan is always a sentimental favorite of mine (I think I’ve spoken enough about the various Japanese things I love for that to be apparent), so that was a tough final 30 minutes to watch. I refuse to make the lazy seppuku joke, but you can if you want to.
  • Speaking of Japan, they went semi-viral for leaving the locker room spotless after their loss. Everyone raced to pat them on the back for being classy and respectful, and while I’m sure that’s true, I think they were cleaning out of shock. Sometimes something so crazy happens to you that your brain shuts off and you just start acting out of instinct. I think this loss was so bad every Japanese player decided to clean the locker room because it would give them an escape from the harsh reality that they choked big time.
  • When Xherdan Shaqiri can’t lead you to the quarterfinals against the surprise team of the tournament (R.I.P Xherdan Shaqiri hobbit jokes):
  • England vs. Colombia was amazing because it literally felt like every single player was trying to get ejected. It’s rare to see that type of mutual hatred these days. My favorite part was when it was clear American referee Mark Geiger had no control of the game so a Colombian player would kick the shit out of an England player and act like he was on the Kings during the 2002 Western Conference Finals when he got called for a foul. Love a good ref feud.
  • If Brazil vs. Belgium isn’t the greatest game of all time I might retire from the Internet (not really).
  • If France vs. Brazil/Belgium isn’t the greatest game of all time I might retire from the Internet (not really).
  • If Russia vs. Croatia isn’t the greatest- actually, yeah, never mind on that one.
  • No one’s that surprised that Russia’s benefiting from some favorable whistles, right? Like what ref has the balls to call a penalty against Russia in Russia with five minutes left in extra time? I know I wouldn’t. Russia is also clearly doping/bribing/cheating in some way but I think I love it. Soccer needs a villain and Russia winning the World Cup would be high comedy.
  • Over/under on Neymar rolls for the rest of the tournament has been set at 42.5.
  • Talk about a rollercoaster ride for goalkeepers. For every Kasper Schmeichel miracle save there’s a David de Gea or Fernando Muslera brain fart. Don’t know why anyone would choose to be a goalie.
  • Massive moment- the All Hair Team has officially named its captain:Stunning. Majestic. Pure beauty. Kasper.
  • The Milkshake Duck effect has ruined World Cup superfans. No longer do we get to find a random person the cameras picked up in the group stage, learn all their quirks and charming devotion, and slowly fall in and out of love with them as we discover their terrible Soundcloud and old pictures of them at Nazi rallies. I want my broadcast producers to be less woke.
  • Gabriel Jesus is allergic to scoring goals. He flat out refuses to do it. An interesting strategy for striker, to be sure.
  • Where does Kevin De Bruyne rank among all-time ginger athletes? He has to be above Andy Dalton.
  • Don’t get why anyone would choose to have a short goalkeeper. I get the quickness aspect, but I feel like height and length is such an inherent advantage at that position.
  • Romelu Lukaku not being the best player in the Premier League makes absolutely no sense to be. Guy’s literally got everything.
  • If you still dislike soccer after this World Cup (not saying a die hard fan, just able to say soccer can be fun), you’re just a blind h8r, and hate looks ugly on everyone.

Brininho’s Den World Cup Thoughts, Round of 16 Edition


After a truly thrilling couple weeks, we’re done with the group stage of the 2018 World Cup. There were tears, death-defying injury recoveries, ecstasy (perhaps emotional and pharmaceutical, if you catch my drift), and plenty of drama. So much drama, in fact, that I am suffering severe withdrawals from a lack of Cup matches today. Who needs days off? Just power through this thing. Survival of the fittest, and what have you. Surely the Russian government will be more than willing to give up some of its ultra-steroids to keep everyone fit. Anyway, the knockout stages will either continue the excitement or be a dull return to reality. Hard hitting analysis, I know, but it’s true. As we say goodbye to the haters and losers that failed to advance, let’s remember all the good times we had in the group stage and look forward to the teams who are actually good trying to beat each other.

  • I would like to formally petition the English FA and the whatever Belgium’s sports governing body is to refund me for the two hours of my life wasted on watch their “game.” That is why most (stupid) Americans can’t get into soccer.
  • Somehow, either Sweden or Switzerland is guaranteed a quarterfinal spot, and, should England defeat Colombia, could easily make the semifinal. This is an unexpected development and I’m shocked the ghost of Sepp Blatter allowed it to happen.
  • Wait, so it turns out Russia only looks good against the worst teams in the tournament? And that they fold against legitimate competition? Huh???????
  • While I’m not weeping at Germany’s cowardly elimination, I must say it would have been very funny if Mexico had won its first two games and then didn’t advance because they got TROUNCED by a mediocre Sweden team. Whatever, give me more Landon Donovan takes.
  • I honestly don’t know what to make of France. At no point have they looked anything other than total shit, yet I’d be terrified to pick against them. Talent typically finds a way to win in international competitions, so count them out at your own peril.
  • It’s officially #GOATszn, and there’s a universe where both Portugal and Argentina pull off upsets to set up the ultimate GOAT-off in the quarterfinals. I neeeeeeeeed this. I need this more than air to breathe. I just want to say I was alive during what would undoubtedly be the most absurd day in Twitter history. Give me CR7 vs. Messi or give me death.
  • Before we go any further, I’d like to take the time to remember everything we lost during the group stage. Scroll slowly for full effect.



RIP Hair

  • Quick Golden Boot check- Harry Kane 5, Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo 4, Diego Costa and Denis Cheryshev with 3, many others with 2, Messi with 1. I think Lukaku has the best shot of playing the longest, so logic would favor him. My pre-tournament picks of Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud, Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski, and Neymar have combined for 1. Nice.
  • Surprisingly little in the way of negative press about the host country, unlike the last major international sporting event that took place in Russia. I’m guessing it’s because no one complains about trivial things quite like American journalists and America, you know, didn’t make it. Also Putin has probably strong-armed the world media into only saying good things.
  • When Xherdan Shaqiri drags you into the knockout round and you get to face the weakest non-Russia opponentgiphy1
  • Uruguay-Portugal= Portugal
  • France-Argentina= Argentina (or France if Uruguay wins and takes all the fun out of it)
  • Brazil-Mexico= Brazil
  • Belgium-Japan= Belgium
  • Spain-Russia= Spain
  • Croatia-Denmark= Croatia
  • Sweden-Switzerland= Switzerland
  • Colombia-England= England
  • I retract my former statement about the lack of bad Russia stories, because apparently Marcelo’s injury was caused by his hotel mattress. For shame.
  • Stinks that there’s some big injuries to key players. Marcelo’s back, James Rodriguez’s calf, Neymar’s death, resurrection, death, resurrection, death, and resurrection have really put an asterisk on this tournament.
  • There must be more than one Neymar, because he’s died on the field at least ten times. I mean, some of the hits this guy takes. How can anyone be expected to get back up? But then, before you know it, another Neymar is out there wearing number 10 to take the deceased one’s place. Some crazy science/magic going on here.

Think that does it for this round. I’m practically twitching with anticipation for these knockout games, where Lionel Messi will, without a doubt, score at least four goals every game. It’s his destiny. Just like it’s my destiny to be correct in all matters of football, whether foreign or domestic.

Brininho’s Den World Cup Thoughts pt. 2


The World Cup is trudging on, and the Round of 16 picture is becoming clearer. Many of the favorites have already clinched, some teams that faced scares are fighting back while others (Argentina) are wilting. The race for the Golden Boot is heating up and could (I repeat, could) theoretically be contested all the way to the Final. Anyway, here’s another round of Cup Thoughts.

  • Can we just take a second to appreciate the fact that we’re currently living at the same time as the two undisputed (to anyone who isn’t Pele) G.O.A.T.s? Think about how preposterous that is. It’s one thing for it to happen in American-centric sports like football or basketball. But for the two best players in futbol history to enter their primes at the exact same time is amazing. And I know in the age of Twitter and takes you can’t like both, but I’m going to take a stand and say that I love both Ronaldo and Messi with all my heart. Yes, I am #TeamMessi, and yes, it’s a rough patch right now, but how people limit their enjoyment of these two wonderfully skilled and unique players just because they’ve decided to make their Twitter background a picture of one of them is baffling to me. It’s not a perfect comparison, but imagine not allowing yourself to like Steph Curry just because you love LeBron. Why would you do that to yourself? Ronaldo is the ultimate physical marvel- speed, power, athleticism combined with an obsessive drive to improve his already flawless technique. Messi is a wizard who controls the ball through telekinesis and never looks like he’s breaking a sweat. Ronaldo fanboys are certainly the more vocal of the two factions, but why would you rob yourself of the pleasure of enjoying both of them? Makes no sense.
  • That being said, it’s not fair that Cristiano can just start experimenting with typically terrible looks and pull them off perfectly
  • Speaking of new facial hair, I’m kind of feeling Luis Suarez’s bearded swole/thicc look he’s got going on.
  • I’m so happy Nigeria beat Iceland and kept Argentina alive, if only because the takes that would have come out of an inevitable Messi hat-trick after being eliminated would have increased the Greenhouse Effect by at least 75%.
  • The font Adidas is using on their player names STINKS. Like, who approved this?That says Brandt, if you can’t tell. The letters all look the same, the 1s are the same as 7s, it’s just a mess. And most of the actual jerseys are good, too. Just ruined by a stupid font.
  • I’m writing this in the midst of Spain vs. Morocco which may render this moot, but I need some more red cards in my life. Everything has been too nice. Back in my day, the players weren’t all buddy-buddy and actually competed with each other and fouls were allowed and players didn’t take all these 3 pointers and- whoops, sorry. Slipped into my “old basketball guy” schtick again. I confess that my otherwise extensive footy knowledge doesn’t include what old, bitter players and fans say about today’s generation of players (has to be some variation of soft and pampered), but I would like to see more players lose their heads. Handballs don’t count.
  • Piggybacking off that, I have officially put all my life savings on “Neymar to get himself ejected the first time someone touches him because he feels like throwing a temper tantrum” at -200
  • R.I.P. Mo Salah
  • Harry Kane should not be a high level professional athlete. He’s got 99% dock worker DNA but somehow wound up with the gene that produces world-class strikers. Why couldn’t that have been me?
  • Now that Russia played a good team and lost, France has to be the worst-looking team that’s won both games. Do they know the World Cup started already?
  • Meanwhile, Peru goes balls-to-the-wall for 180 minutes, has the worst luck ever, and is already out. Sports are cruel.
  • It’s not exclusive to soccer, but I love when players crowd the ref and start yelling at him after he makes a call they don’t like as if that will change anything. One day he’ll change the call, guys, keep trying!
  • Ronaldo just missed a penalty so, buy law, Messi is the G.O.A.T. again.
  • Exciting win for Germany and they’ll obviously wind up advancing, but this team has Quarterfinal exit written all over it.
  • It’s funny how, considering the likely bracket, Belgium and England would choke by winning their matchup, as opposed to their preferred methods of choking, losing to inferior opponents/losing in penalties. Sometimes you just can’t have it your way.
  • Folks, I can’t understand it, but some players are still flopping. I’m just as surprised as all of you.
  • When Xherdan Shaqiri scores a last second goal that likely clinches your spot in the Round of 16.
  • I’m surprised Ronaldo was able to score a goal when this man was patrolling the opposite sideline.Guess he just needed to establish his dominance. Although I’m not sure the perfectly maintained Cristiano Ronaldo can compete with Hervé Renard’s rugged handsomeness. He looks like he could give a dissertation on regional wine varieties while simultaneously captaining a sailboat while somehow also tilling the land on his olive farm. I’d ask what cologne he uses but I know his own natural musk is aphrodisiac enough.
  • I know this is Ronaldo heavy but I can’t help it. He’s lucky (i.e., FIFA just pulled a Stern to make sure he didn’t get suspended) he didn’t get a red for his high elbow.
  • I said I liked VAR but I think I might be out. It’s good that it happens so short, but if you never use it or just ignore blatant errors without going back to fix them what’s the point?
  • I’m out on Spain. They seem so mentally fragile. When Diego Costa is holding your team together with a cool head that’s a bad sign.
  • I would never paint my face to go to a game if I wasn’t 10000000000% I was going to like the outcome. Can’t be caught being sad face paint guy.

Think that’s all I have for now. This World Cup has been pretty darn good so far, and should only get better. Here’s hoping for another three weeks of greatness.

Brininho’s Den World Cup Thoughts pt. 1


Hello everyone and welcome into the Brininho’s Den, your home for all the World Cup coverage you need. Since I don’t have the time/motivation to recap every single game, every couple days I’ll give my thoughts on things. Be it who’s playing well, who should return to their life as a dentist, who has the best hair, and any other random stories that pop up. The anthems have been sung, so it’s time for kickoff.

  • NSFW:neymarIf I could ever get my hair like this, you’d better believe I’d never try another style.
  • It really bothers me that the anthem tracks FIFA uses are clearly faster than normal, causing the players and fans to sing behind tempo, making everything sound horrible. Until I actually looked them up, I thought every South American anthem was the worst song ever recorded for this specific reason.
  • All-time blunder: cause a stir with awesome new jerseys that get everyone hyped for your team and think of you as a possible dark horse, don’t wear said jerseys in your opening game and give one of the worst performances of the tournament so far.

    Really good look, guys. Definitely better than the ones everyone preordered.
  • No, watching Panama get destroyed was not triggering. I wasn’t even mad, it was funny to me.
  • Have to hand it to Putin. He really rigged Group A well. I’ll be curious as to what’ll happen in the knockout stages. I’m sure some significant others will be abducted. If they wind up facing Spain, I sure hope he keeps his hands off Shakria.
  • Mexico is either going to go to the semi-finals or lose the next two games. Those are the only available outcomes after that kind of yuuuuuge win.
  • Absolutely hilarious story: South Korea swapped their players’ jersey numbers in practice because Westerners can’t “distinguish between Asians.” Amazing. Now, here in America we have total racial harmony and no one even sees color so this wouldn’t be a problem for us, but Sweden? If you don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes/ if you aren’t Zlatan they have absolutely no idea how to pick people apart. Kind of shocked this didn’t work, to be honest.
  • I know there’s a joke about how many bugs are flying around Russian stadiums but I’ll let someone else think of it.
  • As someone who plays entirely too much FIFA, I understand the frustrations that come with not being able to score (please keep your snide comments to yourself). Some games it’s just not going to happen. If it gets really bad I just quit or press reset. Don’t know why Germany didn’t try this.
  • As the only country remaining that I have any ancestral ties to, I officially pledge myself to England until I sense their heartbreaking demise. My uncle is from Australia butttttttt I don’t think they’ll be around too much longer.
  • Rough couple days for us Messi truthers. Ronaldo takes a giant shit on Spain then Messi comes up smaller than small against Iceland. Still plenty of time left but you can see it in his eyes that he wants to be literally anywhere else in the world.
  • Spain is officially back, though.
  • The Belgian Golden Generation has officially Arrived (by winning a war of attrition against the worst team in the field).
  • If he could go back in time, Nick Saban would recruit a young Romelu Lukaku to play outside linebacker. Don’t understand how he doesn’t score 40 goals a season.
  • When Xherdan Shaqiri says he’ll take the Ring to Mordor.resd
  • Paul Pogba’s game winning goal was changed to an Aziz Behich own goal after the match. Both Pogba and Behich should be allowed to beat up the scorekeepers with no repercussions.
  • Folks, I hate to break it to you, but some players are exaggerating injuries. I, too, am shocked.
  • VAR has obviously been a big talking point, but I’m still in favor of it even though it’s far from perfect. I’d rather have the right call made despite the endless debates about what is or isn’t subjective and reviewable.
  • Mo Salah, for the sake of everyone’s eyeballs, please come back ASAP.
  • Fully expect Arsenal to offer $80 million for Hirving Lozano.
  • Kind of bummed out about Brazil and Peru. Started out like houses on fire then just died out. If only Peru had a way to keep people awake and energized….
  • Speaking of Peru, the announcer for their game (Jorge Perez-Navarro) might be the most electrifying man on English-language TV. The constant yelling started out funny, then became annoying, then became funny again, then became awesome when there was finally a goal.
  • Once more, for the people in the back

That’s about all I got for now. Pretty solid first few days, and it’ll only get better. Open your heart to soccer, America. It’s worth it.

2018 World Cup Preview


Rejoice, people of Earth, for it is finally time to kick off the World Cup, AKA the couple weeks every four years you pretend to care about soccer. Well, unlike you posers, I care about soccer 24/7/365, so if you were waiting for me to give you all the information you need to know to sound smart while watching, you’re in luck. I’ve ran the numbers, done my simulations, and have determined with 100% certainty that this year’s champion will be named somewhere in this post. It’s up to you to find it. You may be wondering why I didn’t release this yesterday before the tournament actually kicked off, but, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m very lazy, and, I assure you, Russia vs. Saudi Arabia will have no lasting impact on this World Cup whatsoever. Anyway, on to the good stuff.

Oh, right. USA. We’re not in it. But, we improbably got awarded the 2026 World Cup (it tells you everything you need to know about FIFA and international sports governing bodies as a whole that a combined USA-Canada-Mexico bid-a bid that in centered around the fact that there are ALREADY SOCCER STADIUMS BUILT- is less likely to happen than Morocco, where they’d have to use slave labor very expendable day laborers to build multiple stadiums in a short period of time, only for those stadiums to be completely abandoned once the tournament is over. Got to love bribery), so who’s really winning? I’ll let you decide for yourself. Also, European giants Italy and the Netherlands also missed out, so even though our qualifying region is infinitely easier, at least we can point and laugh at countries where fútbol is all they have. Italy being out is a big win for anyone who hates the “well USA stinks so I’ll just root for my ancestors’ team” crowd (no, Ireland didn’t make it, either, why do you ask?), and it may even reduce the amount of roid-fueled violence at bars and watch parties without the possibility of an Azzurri loss.

Who’s Good

  • Germany- Everyone on their team was genetically engineered to be dominant at one specific aspect of the sport
  • Brazil- Haven’t been the same since leaving Hulk out of the team, but they’re still stacked as hell
  • France- Some serious 2004 Lakers potential here
  • I bet if you’re reading this I could tell you just about anyone and you’d believe me. I could say Tunisia is the team no one wants to play and you’d pocket that nugget and throw it out to your friends right before they lose 4-0 to Belgium
  • Tunisia- The team no one wants to play

Players to Watch

  • Lionel Messi, Argentina- The fact that Argentines hate him while our national soccer savior is Freddy Adu is sickening
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal- A young upstart looking to make his mark on the world
  • Mo Salah, Egypt- Is Egyptian Messi healthy? It’s what the people are asking
  • Robert Lewandowski, Poland- Poland could make some proverbial noise if he shows up. Only problem is he usually doesn’t for big tournaments
  • Paul Pogba, France- If he’s good every game France wins it all. Book it

Random Players You Can Sound Smart if You Know

  • Hakim Ziyech, Morroco
  • Sergej Milinković-Savić, Serbia

  • Timo Werner, Germany
  • Hirving Lozano, Mexico
  • Christian Cueva, Peru

Trendy Darkhorses

  • Peru
  • Nigeria
  • Morocco
  • Croatia
  • Colombia

Players Most Likely to be Sent to Siberia

  • Everyone on Russia
  • Everyone on Russia’s families
  • Everyone on Russia’s friends
  • Local officials from everyone on Russia’s hometowns
  • 1980 Soviet hockey team for good measure

Best Things About This World Cup

  • Early games- primetime games are so overrated
  • VAR- Replay hate has picked up steam lately (mostly because the NFL is inept), but count me among the radical thinkers who think human error shouldn’t decide major international tournaments
  • You can rest easy knowing the Russian government will use the revenue from this event for the good of their people
  • Impossible to get mad at USA for not beating superior teams if they don’t make it in the first place
  • Flaming hot anthem

Worst Things About This World Cup

  • Say what you will about ESPN, but their international soccer coverage is far superior to Fox’s. They always bring the heat with graphics and video packages. So, despite being helmed by living legend Rob Stone, I’m out on Fox soccer coverage
  • Impossible to get excited about a USA World Cup run if they aren’t there
  • It’s in Russia
  • International soccer is becoming more and more defensive and conservative as club teams assert greater control over players and training time
  • The same group of three commercials that plays on an endless loop

Best Jerseys

  • Nigeria

  • Croatia

  • Brazil

  • Belgium

  • Japan

  • Colombia

Best Snacks to Eat During World Cup 2018

  • I’m on a big Pringles kick lately, don’t know if it’ll last the entire World Cup
  • Borscht
  • Your daily ration of Siberian gruel
  • Caviar
  • Cheez-Its

Who Will Advance From Each Group

  • Group A- Uruguay, Russia
  • Group B- Spain, Morocco
  • Group C- France, Peru
  • Group D- Croatia, Argentina
  • Group E- Brazil, Serbia
  • Group F- Germany, Mexico
  • Group G- Belgium, England
  • Group H- Colombia, Poland

Most Likely to Win Golden Boot

  • Thomas Mueller, Germany
  • Timo Werner, Germany
  • Neymar, Jr., Brazil
  • Robert Lewandowski, Poland
  • (Wild Card) Olivier Giroud, France

Who’s Winning

  • The moment you’ve all been waiting for. The winner of the 2018 World Cup will be………


Viva joga bonito

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