Ben: And I’m Ben MacKenzie. We've got about two minutes before the soiree begins (though I don't know how quickly they'll get to the drawing We may need to sit through some cultural dances)
Matt: I've got the Fifa website up and it has a countdown clock to the draw, currently at 51 minutes. So yes, definitely some cultural dances
Ben: In that case we have no choice but to blather incessantly about both Soccer and the pomp and circumstance of what is, basically a glorified lotto draw. (And though we are both at work, we’ll both make time for the truly important things in life: international soccer, laws of probability and Charlize Theron.)
Matt: First question: I'm noticing something on fifa's website, can you describe the four pots?
Ben: The four pots are the four sets of teams which will soon be paired up into eight groups. No two teams from the same pot can face each other, and no two teams from the same confederation can face each other. That means that no African teams will face South Africa in the first round, nor will teams from South America have to play Brazil or Argentina in the first round.
Matt: And also that the best teams will only play one another in the more thrilling knock out stage, rather than the grueling group stage. But has this always been what they do?
Ben: I think for the last 4 or 5 tournaments. This is all part of an effort to give each confederation the opportunity to advance more of their confederation members. Our event tonight is being hosted by an attractive woman with a dress that looks like a leopard print tinged with teal and feather earrings, but before she goes to far we have an address from Nelson Mandela. [Awed silence as ...inspiration washes over us...until Matt has a sudden realization]
Matt: INVICTUS isn't about soccer. This has to piss off Clint Eastwood. You're promoting it wrong, Nelson!!!
Ben: HOW DARE THEY IGNORE WHAT CLINT WANTS!! I bet Nelson doesn't even plug the movie (the nerve of him, one little peace prize and it all goes to his head)
Matt: From now on the Group of Death is any dinner table where Clint Eastwood is sitting.
Ben: Well argued. I want to point out here that an important factor to note throughout the draw process is which group a team goes into as well as the groups next to them. For those of you who are fans of College Basketball you can think of this like looking ahead in March Madness...sure it’s great if you’re a number 3 seed, but whose the number 2 you’ll be facing later on? Each team will look ahead to consider not only the teams in their group, but the teams they might face in the round of 16, the quarter finals, and the semis in order to even reach the finals
Matt: Right. In the round of 16 and the quarter finals the top two teams in groups A & B are together, as are C & D, E & F, G & H, it’s only at the semi-finals that the best teams from A, B, C & D face off (or E, F, G & H). But we can guarantee that Argentina will play England before the final, they'll set that up right?
Ben: Oh, of course, they always do. (That was the whole reason for the Faulklands war, just to have a reason for more anger during Argentina-England matches)
Ben: WOAH! And we have our first terribly awkward moment of the world cup, as Joseph Blatter just said to our hostess: "It's easy to fall in love in Africa, when I look at you.......hehehe..."
Matt: Joseph Blatter has jungle fever, good thing he has a room named for him at the Mayo Clinic...in urology. HEY-OH!
Ben: NICELY DONE! And the MacKenzie Post Joke Celebrations are starting early.
Matt: So tell me who the favorites are? Spain & Brasil, that's the consesus right?
Ben: Yeah, but I'll go ahead and say that it's got to be Brasil No European team has won the World Cup outside of Europe
Ben: If it's in North America, South America or Asia, it's always been Brazil/Argentina
Matt: double bah, and triple humbug
Ben: Well argued
Matt: That's kind of like the stat that people throw out in the baseball postseason like: The Yankees have never lost a series when up 3-0: different players, different teams, you can’t assume it will hold true.
Ben: That's true, on an unrelated side note, this show is like crack for world music nerds like me, Angelique Kidjo is singing now and if Youssa N'Dour turns up to make this a duet I might pass out from joy.
Matt: I surmised as much. What about Fela Kuti? Is he dead yet?
Ben: Yeah, I think he's actually been dead for a while
Matt: Then it would be super awesome if he showed up. Zombie Fela Kuti would be the baddest Zombie ever. Correction, Zombie Oliver Reed would be badder.
Ben: Of course, zombies make everything better (and in an intriguing side note: Zombie is actually an African word. It referred not only to those raised from the dead by black magic, but collaborators with slave traders) And what’s more one of Fela’s best songs was actually called: Zombie!
Matt: I DID NOT KNOW THAT, thank you Nerd.
Ben: And now Charlize Theron...
Matt: So hot.
Ben: Charlize Theron’s hotness is palpable and it comes from a very special place. Could you telestrate that Matt?
Matt: I can try Ben. Look at this picture of Charlize Theron. Sure there’s a smile, a cheery disposition, and a passion for sports. But there’s also a sense of humor. Don’t forget this woman followed up winning an academy award for playing a serial killer by playing Jason Bateman’s love interest on Arrested Development. Beauty, humor and a fondness for sport. Gentlemen begin your drooling.
Ben: I like that the Fifa World cup draw manages to become a lotto draw with the hottest women in the entire country making the announcements. Also worth noting, is that Theron, during rehearsals yesterday pulled out France's name and said: "Ireland". TAKE THAT THIERRY HENRY!!
Matt: Ha ha ha. Okay Ben, who is your dark horse pick?
Ben: Well, the popular dark horse is Cote D'Ivoire, with the immensely talented Didier Drogba and the Toure brothers. But, as a man whose been there I'll go with Ghana.
Matt: Now, is Ghana a heart pick or is that your real dark horse?
Ben: Mostly the heart, but depending on the draw they can actually make it happen
Matt: Fair enough. I'm pretending that I'm the Predictatron 6000 and am not biased in any way. My dark horse is . . .USA!
Ben: Oh Predictatron 6000 will you ever learn?
Matt: No, I don't really know enough to make any informed opinions. I'm like a babe in the woods here. Like a Blatter at a Sorority sleepover.
Ben: Then you’re just as qualified as 90% of ESPN.
Matt: Now who do you think is due for a run?
Ben: I would say (as everyone says) that England is due. They have the highest quality league in the world and their players are in constant competition with the world's best. They had a stellar qualifying campaign, but they've only made one semi in the past 50 years...I would also very much like the Dutch to win, but they often underperform, and Spain, even though they’re the favorites, they fold faster than a 2-7 off suit. One final note as we’re about ready to begin, (after they finish explaining a draw that’s more complicated than health care legislation) I think that Zombie Charlize Theorn and Zombie Fela Kunti's baby might have be able to kill Zombie Oliver Reed)
Matt: Only if the zombie baby drank four pints an hour.
Ben: He might be able to manage that, I’m sure zombie Charlize would just give the kid some pints o' blood and brains and he's happy.
Matt: So we start by drawing all the names from pot one first, as they’re drawn so shall they be listed from A-H. Interesting. Top half going towards the first semi-final: South Africa, Argentina, England & Germany. In the bottom half: Netherlands, Italy, Brazil and Spain.
Ben: Dang, I step away for a minute and a lot happens, I think that draw plays out nicely for England and Germany with neither South Africa nor Argentina playing their best right now. Without knowing anything else, they have a road with a potentially easy semi match (if they can get there) Meanwhile the two best teams right now (Brazil and Spain) are bound for (at best) a quarterfinal tussle.
Matt: On to the second pot, that includes North America, Asia, Asian wannabe Australia and New Zealand. And right away we’ve got Mexico in A, and South Korea in B. Mexico is a better team than South Africa, not so sure about Korea and Argentina.
Ben: Bad news for Americans the two easier top seeds are gone which means........SHIT! SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!!!
Ben: DAMMIT!!! Well...we drew England, and we get them first and I think we’re bound for another group of death...
Matt: I think you’re too quick to judge. We could still take 2nd depending on the rest of the draw. Plus, England always has so much freaking pressure, maybe we'll pull the upset. But I have to say, I don't like Australia in Group D either, no easy going for Germany yet.
Ben: You're absolutely right, meanwhile Theron just keeps mocking the French guy. Quoth Frenchie to Charlize: "Did you know US played England in 1950, do you remember that?" The look on Theron’s face is just a priceless “WTF, do I look 70 to you?”)
Matt: I'm calling Group E right now as the Group Of Death.
Ben: With Nederlands and Japan? Makes sense, them or C or D. Italy and Brazil get New Zealand and North Korea which leaves Spain with Honduras. Two minnows not likely to scare the last two champs and favorites Spain should handle Honduras.
Matt: Group E is going to get an african heavyweight: Ghana or Cote D'Ivoire. That's predictotron 6000 logic.
Ben: Well done Predictatron. Meanwhile, we head on to Pot 3 the Africans and South Americans, so the fist two African teams drawn will face Argentina and Brazil respectively, while the first South American team to come up gets South Africa. (Thus avoiding the potential continental conflicts). Remember given the right draw Ivory Coast could have a run to the finals in them (so Argentina would be great) But it’s Nigeria with Argentina and...oh man! much harder run for Ivory Coast going through Brazil (possibly twice) and Spain
Matt: Now Algeria joins group C, and Algeria I'll take, meanwhile Group D is looking awfully Scythe toting (Ghana gets it again).
Ben: Agreed, Australia's the class of the Asian Confederation, Germany is always tough, Ghana's hard too, their title as group of Death depends on the other European. Predictatron may still be right since Cameroon isn't bad in Group E.
Matt: Yeah, but D is just looking monsterous, meanwhile Spain essentially has a bye
Ben: I’m not so sure, Chile has actually done well of late and a lot of people think they could be dangerous. We’re through pot 3 and on to the last set of teams to draw, the Europeans in pot 4, led by the dangerous French and Portuguese (as well as Greeks and Danes), these will be drawn A-H, and I still think that Mexico has a semi-descent shot at a surprise run to the semis...OH HELL NO!
Matt: France gets grouped with Mexico.
Ben: I know that Everybody's saying that France will have something to prove
Matt: Slovenia! Ha! we ducked Greece and got Slovenia
Ben: We’ve got a shot, we just need to not hate ourself after that match against England, and stay positive during those last two matches. A draw and a win after England could be enough to put us in the round of 16.
Matt: The problem is that whoever comes out of Group D: at both spots is going to be a beast
Ben: Dammit, you’re right D's gotta be the scythe toter, I think we might want to hope for the Aussies or Ghana, we can catch either of those teams but a tough physical Serbian team....Not our cup of tea
Matt: And Germany?
Ben: Yeah...I don't even want to think about that...disciplined sides that don't make mistakes, not our favorite
Matt: Well, they still have to actually play the games.
Ben: That's true, there's a looong time to come before then
Matt: In the time we’ve been away, the Danes and Slovaks joined groups E and F, and now PORTUGAL!
Ben: G looks pretty deadly Poor North Korea
Matt: Hey baby, at least they get to leave their godforsaken minestrewn country
Ben: I thought Kim Jong-Il was god? (At least in his own mind). Well, that will have to do it for the Montana Hooligans for now. More analysis will be on the way throughout the six months leading up to our first cup including a concerted effort to post one blog a week analyzing each team, their strengths, their weaknesses and some inane form of blather that amuses me. We’ll hear from a host of other bloggers all soon to arrive on our site, and we will always be happy to welcome you all back, but for now I’m Ben MacKenzie
Matt: And I’m Matt MacKenzie and from all of us here at MacKenzie Low Budget Sports goodnight from Ohio, Chicago and South Africa.