With England failing to progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup having crashed out at the earliest stage in their history since 1954, most Englishmen despair and are at odds with what to do with themselves for the remainder of the competition. Yet reach for those tissues, dry your eyes, as now is a moment of opportunity. No longer are you tied to this infuriating underachieving team of premier league starlets, now you can reinvent yourself and pick a new nation to tie your allegiances to. Wind back the clock 6 years and England failed to reach the finals of Euro 2008. The finals stages were not the time to lament over the failings of the wally with a brolly and instead I chose to support the Netherlands, that eccentric team clad all in orange. For once got to enjoy my team playing attractive football at the finals of a major tournament, and the pain in my stomach that comes from supporting England was vanquished. Now we must all decide which nation we are going to switch our allegiances to, whether you’re half-German, a sixteenth-Brazilian or once spent a month backpacking around Chile, it doesn’t matter. Choose your new nation and support them with the maddening furore that comes from enjoying the game, but not truly caring about the final result. To help you with this decision Original Footy has provided a list of our top teams to support. So now is a time to celebrate and for optimism, you never know your adopted nation might just go all the way…
Obviously lots of people will immediately be switching their allegiances to the home nation and there would be small wonder why. Whilst England is the birthplace of football, over the centuries our claims to being father of the game are growing increasingly laughable considering our inability to play it. Stepping into fill this void is Brazil which many people claim to be the ‘spiritual home of football’. It is easy to get caught up in the electric hype and fervour being generated in Brazil which is easily translated through the television, despite Adrian Chiles’ best efforts at destroying any feel-good factor. After an underwhelming start to the competition Brazil turned up the heat in their final group game, and will have to raise their levels again to beat an energetic Chilean side in the second round.
For many fanatic English football fans it will be difficult to switch their allegiance to Oranje purely due to the man in charge. Louis Van Gaal is officially to take over as manager of the stumbling Manchester United, therefore many fans out there would prefer him to join after an ill-fortuned World Cup trip, rather than a glorious conquest. But this is the World Cup and surely all club allegiances should be set to the side, and cheering on RVP and his Dutch companions would make for a thrilling experience. The clinical attacking prowess displayed against Spain, coupled with the defensive frailties against Australia mean that any Dutch game is bound to be entertaining. With this combination of factors anything is possible in Netherlands knockout games, and this feeling of uncertainty will fill the void that is usually occupied by anxiety during England games.
Many people were aware of the quality of this Chilean side coming into the World Cup but few could have predicted what would have happened at the Maracana, as the Chileans signalled the end of the Spanish era of dominance in triumphant style dismantling the holders 2-0. What would perhaps sway the neutral more to the Chilean cause was the manner in which they ripped the holders to shreds, and the passion displayed by their supporters. It was impossible not to admire Chile even before kick off as the Chilean crowd proudly roared their national anthem even after the instrumental backing finished (with the help of a few extra supporters who charged into the ground). If this level of intensity is matched for the remainder of their campaign, it is easy to imagine that many around the world will cheer fanatically for La Roja (The Red One).
It is always entertaining following France, as you are never quite sure which French team will turn up. On their day they are one of the best teams in world football however one need look no further back than to the last tournament, when France pressed self-destruct and crashed out of the group stages, to see how mercurial the French can be. On evidence though this French team is raring to go, and the combination of their attacking flair and unpredictable nature makes the French a fascinating team to follow.
Having luckily picked Argentina in the sweepstake they already have my undying support, yet there are other reasons to support La Albiceleste (The White and Sky Blue) The main reason though would have to be Lionel Messi, without question one of the star performers of the tournament thus far. Messi has been playing on another level, scoring in every game so far, dragging Argentina to the top of their group and through to the knockout phases. The rivalry between Argentina and Brazil is intense, and although it is a long way off, it is a possibility that these two great footballing nations could meet in the final, a prospect which any football fan would love to see.
Germany dismantled Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal side in their opening game 4-0, and many predicted they could win all their group games in this fashion, however the following 2 matches proved tougher tests with the German’s drawing one and narrowly winning the second 1-0. A favourable draw against Algeria means that Germany will be heavy favourites to make it through to the quarter finals, and then potentially further. Germany have an incredibly strong squad, spearheaded in attack by the current golden boot holder Thomas Muller. Muller has 4 goals in 3 games so far in the tournament and it is easy to imagine that he will find the net in more games to propel Germany deep into the tournament.