World Cup - who should I cheer for?

So I’m not really generally a follower of soccer, but I love watching the world cup. I figure I need a team to cheer for in each group. So far I have:

Group A: I will cheer for Costa Rica, because I have Costa Rican cousins
Group B: I will cheer for England, because of our shared cultural heritage and language plus it seems like they’re a country who really needs to win, psychologically. Plus, I might as well cheer for at least one team that’s favored to win their group.
Group C: I will cheer for The Netherlands, because they (like England) seem absolutely desparate to win, and are (or so I have deduced from reading SDMB threads) a team with a chronic case of tale-of-woe
Group E: I will cheer for The USA, because I’m a jingoist
That leaves (sorted according to ESPN magazine’s predicted order of finish):
Group D (Mexico, Portugal, Iran, Angola)
Group F (Brazil, Croatia, Japan, Australia)
Group G (France, Switzerland, South Korea, Togo)
Group H (Spain, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia)

So… can anyone suggest to me why I should devote my considerable powers of rooting towards any of those teams?

In general, I like cheering for underdogs, but not million-to-one-shot doomed underdogs. Maybe I should just cheer for the team that ESPN magazine thinks will finish third in each group? But do I want to cheer for Iran? Is cheering for their team supporting their government, or somehow supporting the people and their playing of soccer despite their government frowning on it? What about Saudia Arabia? Can anyone sell me on why I should cheer for any other team?

That leaves (sorted according to ESPN magazine’s predicted order of finish):
Group D (Mexico, Portugal, Iran, Angola)
Iran - The people there deserve something nice.
Group F (Brazil, Croatia, Japan, Australia)
Brazil - None of the the teams you picked are going all the way so pick someone who might.
Group G (France, Switzerland, South Korea, Togo)
Who cares?
Group H (Spain, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia)
Tunisia - Star Wars filmed there.

Here’s what I would do. My rationale is based on my love of the game as well as a small sense of cultural/political kinship.

Group D (Mexico, Portugal, Iran, Angola):

Go for Portugal. They play the best football and their “golden generation” (won the under-21 WC back in '91 or so I believe) really could use a good cup. Also, Christian Ronaldo can be an amazing player to watch. Mexico really aren’t that good of a team.

Group F (Brazil, Croatia, Japan, Australia):

Japan. For two reasons. They hosted an amazing WC in 2002 and played some attractive football and because they are not Brazil. If Brazil can’t win by talent then FIFA will win it for them. I do not like Brazil’s footie team even though they are the best in the world.

Group G (France, Switzerland, South Korea, Togo)

France: Thiery Henry. Arguably the best striker on the planet (Shevchenko is probably a little better). The man doesn’t run, he glides. Great, great playr to watch. Switzerland are an awful, negative team. South Korea are fun to watch but have not liked them since the Italian game in '02.

Group H (Spain, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia)

Spain. The WC’s ultimate choke artists. They deserve a good WC. Even just once!

Italy wouldn’t make it? chokes up

My picks as an American fan:

Group D: Mexico. I enjoy beating them, but it looks better for our region if they do well.

Group F: Japan. A very spunky team always getting better; would be nice to see them do well.

Group G: South Korea. U.S. ally, also a spunky team on its way up, and maybe it would be a good example for North Korea or something.

Group H: Spain. Not an underdog, but they often act like it. Maybe they can do something notable this time around.

Italy’s in Group E, along with the US, and he’s cheering for the US in E.

It should be noted that many people in the England-hating countries of the British Isles that didn’t qualify - namely Scotland, Wales, and Ireland - are all purporting to support Trinidad and Tobago rather than England, though some Scottish pubs have said they will be selling the shirt of any team that’s playing against England.

There are probably some Aussies who’d like you to prove this.

Let’s hope they limit the bukkake to the changing rooms.

In order, I’m going to cheer for England, USA, and Oz.

Although Welsh, I will as usual be supporting England, in the absence of my team in the finals.
Going on the evidence of a phone- in I heard on Radio 5 yesterday, I’m not alone either.

Root for:

Mexico - Because they’re our neighbor and CONCACAF wins are good for our qualifying.
Portugal - Because they can play some pretty football.
Iran - Because they’re underrated and could sneak up on some folks. Also, if Iran and the USA ran into each other sometime after the Group stages it would be fun to have a rematch.
Angola - Because they’re a big underdog; bonus if they can take down their former colonial masters, Portugal.
Brazil - Because they play the most beautiful football in the draw.
Croatia - Because their shirts make you hungry for Italian cuisine.
Japan - Because it pisses off the Euros when Asian teams succeed, particularly outside of Asia.
Australia - Because it’s been so long since they got this far. Also, it would be a great story link if Guus Hiddink succeeds with another longshot.
France - Because this may be the last time you see some of the 98 stars like Zidane, Barthez and Henry.
Switzerland - For chocolates and neutrality.
South Korea - Because they were fairly sweet once we both got to the next round in 2002, even if they were a bit nasty up until that point. Those folks ~still~ are ticked about Apollo Ohno.
Togo - Because we believe in miracles. Second biggest underdog after TnT, and they’ve had big off field issues as well.
Spain - Because it would be nice if they didn’t choke for a change.
Ukraine - Because of Schevchenko. Also, because they’re Prime Minister’s face almost melted off last year (or was it the year before?). They’re damned tough customers.
Saudi Arabia - I struggle to come up with anything nice here. Maybe if they win they’ll start letting their women vote, attend games and drive?
Tunisia - Because they might actually do well.

Reasons to cheer against them:

Mexico - Since they’re poor losers (Dos a cero, baby!)
Portugal - So we can keep gloating about Korea '02.
Iran - We owe them from Lyon in '98. Also their president is a fervent anti-Semite.
Angola - Because they’ll probably lose anyway.
Brazil - Since they’ve already won too many times and they tend to dive (although not as much as the Argentines).
Croatia - Since they might crush us if they get to the second round.
Japan - Since they won’t be playing in “kogal” costumes.
Australia - Since one of their players took out a Dutch player with an unwarranted dirty foul in a tune up “friendly”.
France - Because it’s an American cliche to hate the French.
Switzerland - Neutrality and Nazi gold.
South Korea - Because they cheered against us even when we were playing Poland and Portugal.
Togo - No real reason, but why not?
Spain - Keep their perfect record in tact.
Ukraine - Too one dimensional.
Saudi Arabia - It’s really a nasty country.
Tunisia - Because they speak French.

Group D (Mexico, Portugal, Iran, Angola)
Mexico, cause there’s some sexy women in Mexico.
Group F (Brazil, Croatia, Japan, Australia)
Between Brazil and Australia there’s a 50-50 chance there’ll be naked fans on network TV, lets hope they go into extra time.
Group G (France, Switzerland, South Korea, Togo)
Togo. Because Fuck France.
Group H (Spain, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia)
Ukraine! Ukraine is not weak!

Group A - Don’t care, probably better if the host nation qualifies which I fully expect them to.

Group B - I’ll be supporting Paraguay for their first game, T&T for their second game and Sweden for their third game.

Group C - Argentina (my default team if Scotland doesn’t qualify)

Group D - Portugal (I like their style of play and will provide good games in latter stages)

Group E - Czech republic (see above)

Group F - Don’t care, always good to have Brazil in latter stages which shouldn’t be a problem for them.

Group G - South Korea (really enjoyed their style last World Cup and would like to see them play the big teams again)

Group H - Spain (I hope for once they have a World Cup without bottling it)

I’m pulling for Italy to at least make the final, because they were flat-out robbed in the South Korea game in '02, and I’m still floored that virtually nobody on the planet seemed to give a damn. (Look, I feel good when a lovable underdog LEGITIMATELY gets a big win. Blatant corruption is bad no matter who benefits.)

I want our own team is successful, of course, but not too successful. With tremendous success comes High Expectations, which is the kiss of death in any sport. Second or third round and out, I’m happy.

South Korea…I love their music, their cuisine, their contributions to the state of Hawaii, even their cars, but they’re not a soccer powerhouse, dammit. I want them to go down hard. If it’s a crushing disappointment, so much the better; get rid of those expectations that never should’ve existed in the first place.

France will always be a sentimental favorite for me for how, in '98, they defied all the projections and conventional wisdom and showed the most powerful soccer franchise in the world that there were no free rides. As a sports fan, this was one of the greatest moments of my life, right up there with the '04 Red Sox winning the World Series. I don’t see them doing it again, but I’ll be happy if they at least make it to the second round.

I’ll cheer at least a little for Iran and Saudi Arabia just to remind myself that all athletes are human beings, and politics should never, ever encroach into ones enjoyment of a sport.

Really, though, I’ll be glad so long as Brazil doesn’t win. Remember, their fourth championships was a fluke (the tiebreaker shootout, the equivalent of a friggin’ rock-paper-scissors contest) and their fifth was a gift (South Korea’s “home field advantage” knocked out pretty much the only team with any prayer of beating Brazil). I enjoy watching a powerhouse as much as anyone else, but it really does get boring when the same team wins all the time. Anyone but Brazil, please. I’m okay with them finishing second.

Interesting, the game I remember Brazil turned up with 10 men and then proceeded to not even bother trying.

After reading your comment I turned to the guy next to me at work and asked him what he thought of the 98 World Cup Final. His reply:

“Bit of a farce. It’d have been nice if Brazil had turned up”.

Isn’t Root slang down under for fuck?

Root, root, root for the Home Team…if they don’t win it’s a Shaaaame!

Can anyone explain to me why Group C is called the “Death Group”?

Both groups C (Argentina, Cote d’Ivoire, Serbia and Montenegro, Holland) and E (Italy, Czech Republic, USA, Ghana) have been called ‘Groups of Death’ in this world cup, wikipedia reports that this is a reflection of the members of the group being relatively strong teams that are evenly matched as a result any of them could be eliminated.

In 2002, the GoD was Group F (England, Argentina, Nigeria and Sweden).

:confused: France was one of the favorites in '98.

I’ll be rooting for the teams I have money on. That would include any team playing against T&T. No offense to the Soca Warriors, but I don’t see them beating anyone. I took Brazil to win it all.

I hope the US does well, but they’re in a hell of a group. They could play well and still not win any games.

Otherwise, I don’t care much.

One of our best friends is a writer for a german language paper based here in Michigan.

He is following the world cup very closely and I haven’t had the chance to ask him any questions.

I did ask my husband, who is this guy’s twin in so many ways it is scary, who I should cheer on.

Germany and the US Well. Duh.