Monday, June 7, 2010

Mondiale di calcio

World Cup 2010 is upon us, with the world's premier sporting event set to kick off this Friday as the Bafana Bafana of host nation South Africa square off against Los Tricolores of Mexico.

And what would a major sporting competition be without a wager? So, four friends and I drew teams out of a hat, with $20 from each to be paid to the person holding the golden ticket bearing the name of the eventual World Cup–winning nation.

After dropping what we agreed were probably the two lowest seeds in the tournament – New Zealand and Switzerland – we put the remaining 30 teams in three pods of 10, roughly according to the most recent FIFA world rankings, with seeds 1–10 in group one, seeds 11–20 in group two and seeds 21–30 in group three. Each player selected two teams from each group, for a total of six national teams per player.

And the results...

1. Spain
2. Italy
3. United States
4. Paraguay
5. Australia
6. Korea DPR (North Korea)

1. England
2. Portugal
3. Mexico
4. Cameroon
5. Honduras
6. Japan

1. Brazil
2. France
3. Serbia
4. Nigeria
5. Ghana
6. Denmark

1. Netherlands
2. Argentina
3. Greece
4. Ivory Coast
5. Slovakia
6. Korea Republic (South Korea)

1. Germany
2. Uruguay
3. Chile
4. Slovenia
5. Algeria
6. South Africa

I'll be rooting for the Three Lions of England, as they're my highest-rated squad, but I'll happily forego the $80 prize if the Azzurri of Italy – my favorite team since childhood – can somehow regain form to repeat as champions and tie Brazil's record of having won five World Cups.

Forza Azzurri!