Alternative Group A Preview: NKOTB, Riot Grrrl, lions & AFC Wimbledon
Hosts and tournament favourites Brazil are going for glory using mostly players with old-fashioned English boys’ names, which has meant recalls for Fred, Oscar, Victor, and Bernard, but heartbreak for Miranda. Ex-Man City flop Jo can consider himself lucky to be involved.
Of their opponents, Croatia are excellent on paper, but the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb remains one of the few origami football grounds, and they may struggle in the long South American grass. Indomitable dark horses Cameroon will be looking to relive the spirit of 1990 by basing themselves in Italy and listening to a lot of New Kids on the Block.
All eyes will be on the Selecão’s golden boy Neymar, as the football world tries to decide once and for all whether or not he’s attractive. Much will depend on how his haircut holds up in the São Paulo heat.
Elsewhere in the group, Luka Modric will be more dangerous than ever, as the Croatia ace takes to the field for the first time without his hair in his eyes. Look out too for Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, who will be hoping to make a big impression after reaching his seventh World Cup at the age of 21.
Big Phil Scolari is back in charge of Brazil, after their unsuccessful experiments with Little Phil Scolari, Fat Phil Scolari, One-Eyed Phil Scolari, and Phil Mano Menezes Scolari. After mixed success under rock guitarist Slaven Bilic and folk singer Igor Stimac, Croatia are now led by riot grrrl pioneer Kathleen Hanna, previously of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and Feyenoord.
Brazil’s iconic yellow home kit and blue away kit have been augmented this year by a third-choice green kit, to avoid a colour clash in case they are unexpectedly drawn against AFC Wimbledon. Having experimented in the past with sleeveless shirts and onesies, Cameroon are likely to court controversy again when they take to the field in enormous lion costumes.
Did you know?
We didn’t mention Mexico once, and you never even noticed.