Thursday, May 31, 2012

EM 2012--Group C Preview

EM 2012Introduction—“Diner and Drinkers Delight”

(Spain, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Croatia)


Coming soon over the course of this tournament, a very special feature brought to you courtesy of your friendly bookie Vicey. No it will not be another lameo moniker he’s assigned to himself. I think we’ve fucked the hell out of those. Professor Pete, “Der Zwölfte Freund”, Dr. Flask, Ai Wei$ Wei$ (Never Sorry!), “Der Peter-mann, der alles kann”, Shadow Scholar, the “ghost with the most”, Kraut-Wop Sledgehammer, the C-Spanner, usw. Usf.

Not this time. Presenting a sixteen-part photo Album series entitled:

“The Flask Files: Beautiful Snapshots from the Beautiful Game”

In a little over nine days time, in addition to viewing pictures of what someone you had a Geology Lab with ten years ago had for lunch, Facebook users will be treated to colorful documentation of what is easily the greatest aspect of these tournaments: The Fans. Oh yes sir. The flags, the jerseys, the passion, the face-paint, the songs….the hot girls everything we love about a true international festival. In order to bring you the most comprehensive dispatches from field, Vicey must don the journalist’s hat. Yes, it’s been hard work scouting venues for the most authentic fans from all sixteen countries. It will be an even tougher assignment getting drunk with all of these fanatics whilst we cheer on their country. I’m telling you. How unselfish of me to assume such a grinding endeavor, struggling as I invest my blood, sweat, tears, and whatever remains of my liver. Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Much to my personal chagrin, this inspired gem of a concept never materialized. Another tournament came and went. Along the way, yet another golden opportunity to upgrade the optics of The Syndicate went un-utilized. Attempt to understand: It’s not as if I harbor some moral objection to transforming the Syndicate into a catchier, more interactive, multimedia presentation. It’s merely that this remains a “One-Man-Show”. This particular “One Man” happens to have shit to do, bills to pay, and finds himself especially eager to sit back and enjoy a game after spending the entire day hunched over a computer monitor furiously scouring for instances of the dreaded passive voice to eliminate.

Sorry. It just proved more fun to order another beer, swap some quips with some other cheerfully inebriated individuals, and…well…godammit…ENJOY MYSELF? What the hell is wrong with that? I was already charged with keeping track of dozens of wagers, keeping track of all the hot girls in the stands, prepping the nightly recap, and readying the next round’s analysis. Forcing myself to ask strangers whom I had only recently had the privilege of meeting if they would take a photograph with me proved too much. I reiterate that it’s a bloody “One-Man-Show”. Your typical “Man” prefers to watch sporting events drunk, pants-less, and horizontal. I consider myself a heroic exemplar for watching sports and thinking at all. Deal with it.    

I have nothing but positive things to say about literally every international fan base that I’ve hung out with. Whether it was cracking open the Vodka at 10 a.m. on the day of the Klitschko fight with a bunch of Ukrainian construction workers, downing coffee-schnapps cannonballs with a group of unemployed Turks, or chain-smoking Gauloises with some very dirty French whores content to sit on my lap I haven’t had a bad time yet. You may think of drinking and mingling would have led to my involvement in at least one Soccer Riot, but that’s not at all the case. You’d be surprised how easily you can avoid all that by just using your head. A very simple strategy can help you deal with those belligerent drunks: walk away and get on with your life. Whether you’re being accosted in Amsterdam or happen to be the only white guy who dared walk through a Dar-es-Salaam slum in over decade, just walk away from danger. Keep your fists in your pockets and maintain a positive gait. 99.99999% of the time, you win. Never scared!

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Such observations led to assessments of fans from all 16 participating nations; a comprehensive project one Syndicate Member sardonically christened “Vicey’s Safe Guide to International Drinking”. On a more metaphysical note, I wish to encourage all sentient human beings who have made it this far down a drab collection of often incomprehensibly exhausting green script to make the most of their limited time on this planet.


Life remains so appallingly short, it’s nothing short of a travesty that most of us waste so much of it worrying what Sondra down the hall thinks of our recent performance at the office. Fuck Sondra! This is how we were meant to spend our precious time? Why do we do this to ourselves? We bitch and moan constantly about those with which we share far too much in common whilst the world brims with people who are refreshingly different enough to help us forget whatever the fuck it was that we wanted to bitch and moan about. Only novelty makes life worth living. Meeting a new person leads to new ideas. Reading different kinds of books yields different kinds of perspective. Travel broadens the mind. Finally, and forgive me if this alpha-male attitude leads women to lock themselves in the bathroom: different partners are important too.

There’s nothing more debilitating than doing the same thing over, and over, and over again. Practice may make perfect, but it also makes for dull. This isn’t to say that one shouldn’t engage in repetition in pursuit of a career, a happy marriage, or a generally more stable life. All I wish to convey is:


Also. Smile at your cashier, food server, sales associate, paperboy, valet parking attendant, mail deliverer, pool boy taxi driver, gardener, and maid. Smile at them. It will make their day. Repetition happens to be their life. If you’re looking for someone to spit on and demean, start with your professor.


As much as I eagerly look forward to hanging with ALL of the fan bases, this group packs quite a punch. Four of the coolest type of people you’ll ever meet. I can barely sit still or keep a consistent train of thought out of sheer giddiness. Time to get psyched with some brief vignettes of what these crews bring.

Spanish Fans

Don’t let the Javier Bardem types mislead you, the Spaniards love to share a laugh more than anyone else. Actually, with youth unemployment topping forty percent and over a quarter of PhDs (!!) on the dole, they’ve perfected the art of laughter to keep themselves from crying. They’ll have even the dourest faced Kraut cackling uncontrollably within an hour. By the end of the night, they’ll even have him dancing comically bad. The Spanish fans have it all. They can sing. They can dance. They can even fit in dinner somewhere around midnight. Through the magic of Tapas, you can ingest something to sop up the booze whenever the mood strikes. This comes as a great relief to Germans who have to tolerate a strict meal schedule taped to their refrigerator. One can dance seductively with the chicas until the sun comes ups. Not only will a very small portion of them slap you if you happened to have misinterpreted those inviting eyes, many will take the initiative themselves. Only a Spanish girl will walk straight over to a stranger’s table and pull him onto the dance floor. I’m not kidding. This actually happens. Vamos!

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Keep it going, Chicas. Blow me kisses anytime you like. 

Italian Fans

Don’t count on Italian women coming to you. They expect you to work for it. They’ll sit there in corner does nothing butting looking gorgeous for hours, not moving a muscle until you go pick them up. Furthermore, they reserve the right to slap you even if they like you. It’s practically a complement. For all the pomp and Machismo, the wops are still a lively posse to hang with. Share an animated discussion on most any topic. You’ll never guess what a vigorously passionate debate you can have on the subject of type fonts. Italians are always up for a pub game, and you’ll rarely meet one that doesn’t play a mean game of Table tennis, pool, foosball, or darts. One works up one helluva sweat when playing a wop at Ping Pong. Dancing as you swing the bat is mandatory. Hopefully you’ll end up making a new friend who lives in a gorgeous county where the sun always shines, the wine always flows, the food always delights, and the women tend to always be in the 7.9-10 range. Then you can show up at his/her place to crash for a few nights in much the same way that people in BR shamelessly exploit their NOLA friends. After traveling to this Mediterranean paradise, the dominant question remains, “When might I return?” No can resist. Not even Amanda Knox. Mark my words. She’ll be back.   

Editor’s retroactive notes:

I love ya Wops! Amanda…I love you too. Having skimmed through the long-awaited memoir “Waiting to be Heard”, I’ve learned that Amanda Knox found comfort in prison through the works of Douglas Adams. Baby, you can play a fatal sex game with me anytime. 

Irish Fans
Country flag of Ireland

Do I even have to spell it out for you? The grave challenge I and millions of Micks will face on the day of the match will be not passing out before kickoff. Germans love a good Irish pub. You won’t have to walk far in even the smallest hamlets to find one. Once inside you’ll find a bunch of beer-bellied older German men with names like Fritz and Helmut downing pints of Guinness while they tear-up at the acoustic performance of “Country Roads”. That in itself may sound a mite depressing, but bear in mind that you’ll invariably meet at least three hot Irish ex-pat waitresses. Chat them up and you’ll find yourself involuntarily murmuring in deep brogue. Oh it’s been too long since I watched a meaningful match with the Irish. Shit, it’s been TEN years; the last time they even qualified for one of these tournaments. I’m rarin’ to go. I’ve been studying up on my icebreakers. Oh yes. Fine Gael defeats Fianna Fail. Do you know what a Taoiseach is? What about a Tanaiste? I know way too much about them both, though I still can’t pronounce either one. Sounds like a workable pickup line to me. Looks like I’ll have to wrap myself in the larger leather jacket, as I’ll have TWO flasks to sneak in this time. Jameson’s for Catholics. Bushmills for Protestants. Be prepared.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

“Once inside you’ll find a bunch of beer-bellied older German men with names like Fritz and Helmut downing pints of Guinness while they tear-up at the acoustic performance of ‘Country Roads’ “. You think I’m exaggerating? Think whatever you wish. “Bear in mind that you’ll invariably meet at least three hot Irish ex-pat waitresses. Chat them up and you’ll find yourself involuntary murmuring in deep brogue.” Think I made that up for comedic effect? Again, think whatever you wish. “Looks like I’ll have to wrap myself in the larger leather jacket, as I’ll have TWO flasks to sneak in this time. Jameson’s for Catholics. Bushmills for Protestants. Be prepared.” You think I lacked the cajones to carry that out, don’t you? I don’t give a shit what you think. It was a wild evening.

Croat Fans

It should come as a surprise to no one that Blazer fans like to light things on fire. The torch of choice for the Beavi of Europe remains a protracted road flare, though some of the tamer ones will settle for cigarette lighters, candles, or smartphone apps. Put another way, some are violent, others are romantics. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground. Ideally one wants to locate an intimate, moodily lit little hovel that serves wine rather than beer. I once watched a qualifying match in such a place in Berlin. After the Blazers scored, the fans turned the cozy gathering into something reminiscent of a Peter Gabriel concert. No, I’m not ashamed to admit that I once spent my own money to go see Peter Gabriel live…alone. He kept us waiting for nearly an hour and finally trudged on stage with a tailor made line that forced us all to forgive him immediately. “Sorry I was running a little late tonight. On the way here…..something got in the way……..STEAM!” 

Editor’s retroactive notes:

The Croat fans in this tournament turned out to be the ABSOLUTE WORST. They threw flares on the pitch. They accosted Polish women. They (probably) even reduced their number of weekly showers from one to zero. Peter Gabriel’s “Scratch my Back” and “New Blood”….ROCK! Ditto the 2012 “So” Reunion tour. The man with enough sense to leave Genesis back in 1975 remains one of my faves. 

Spain will not only win this group, they will dominate all three matches. The Croats should be easily dismantled. This sets up an epic battle between the Wops and the Micks for second place in the group and a trip to the quarterfinals. Former Italian coach Giovanni Trappatoni attempts to exact revenge against the homeland that fired him back in 2004. Whoever ends up prevailing, I guarantee we’ve got the most intriguing storyline of the tournament in this group. Los!

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Things turned out slightly differently. The Croats took full advantage of Trappatoni’s weaklings and very nearly secured a knockout round berth. Thankfully, La Roja were on hand to smack the Slavs down. 


You may want to sit down. After playing downright miserable after his transfer to Chelsea last year, I remained absolutely convinced that Fernando Torres was finished. Seemingly every European sportswriter concurred and left him off their provisional lists. Somehow, Torres found his form in a late season surge, clawing and scraping his way back into Vincente del Bosque’s good graces. It still came as a surprise when he was called up yesterday. Torres’ inclusion pushes the total worth of his club well above 800 Million Euros, the most expensive national side ever assembled by a factor of nearly two.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Torres had one of the most mercurial tournaments you’re ever likely to witness. After being relegated to the bench in the opening match, del Bosque tapped him for a surprising start against the Micks in Round Two. El Nino secured a brace. After languishing over the next three contests, he earned Golden Boot honors with a goal and an assist in the epic final. If his functionality in the tournament turned out to be somewhat spotty, the subsequent season put any doubts about his resurgence to rest. He’s performed marvelously for the Blues this season. Fernando Fernando won’t be going anywhere soon. Looking forward to seeing him this Summer.

At that price the expectations soar in tandem. Nothing short of a third consecutive international title will suffice. This generation of Spanish fans has no idea how good they have it. I’m old enough to recall when La Roja were the choking jokes of Europe. The Spaniards no longer shoot themselves in the foot….unless they happen to be a member of the Royal family. Aw…snap. That was so gimpy it belonged in a Leno monologue.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Bad Late Night jokes aside, the current Spanish football dynasty deserves respect. Any cutting humor about Spanish Football prowess belongs in the scrapyard….like Juan Carlos’s Yacht! Hey-ho!

Do they have the talent? Well, this cadre of players aren’t receiving 800 million Euros via osmosis. This is essentially the same team that captured the World Championship two years ago with only three notable absences. Joan Capedilla has been left off after nose-diving at Benfica. Beyond that, two HUGE injuries give one cause for serious pessimism. Barca’s beating heart Carlos Puyol will have to sit this one out after sustaining a knee injury earlier this month. Without him, it’s not clear Pique will be the same. The two have such seamless chemistry, always anticipating what the other wishes to accomplish out of the back. Breaking up the best Spanish duo since Ferdinand and Isabella will have serious consequences. Replacing Puyol will be Juan Francisco Torres (Juanfran), a late call up from Athletico Madrid. He’s a very competent player, but has as of this week one cap to his name.

Most importantly, again I hope you’re sitting down: La Roja’s number seven will not make it back in time. After breaking his tibia in the Club World Cup in December, all football fans preserved our sanity by simply assuming David Villa would make it back just in time to dazzle on the Euro Pitch this June. Villa’s loss cannot help but pierce the hearts of football lovers of every nation. Not only is “El Guaje” one of the slickest football players ever, you just knew La Roja would ignite every time he pulled on the Trikot. Fifty-one goals for the national side! We’re all depressed. I wrote in my opening letter than “no major stars were injury”. I too fully expected del Bosque to trot him out yesterday like Sven did with Rooney in 2006. Instead we were all crushed by the news.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

It never ceases to amaze. How did they do it? No Puyol. No David Villa. They achieved regardless.

Of course, the news isn’t as bad as you think. As inconsistent as Torres has been for the last two years, he appears to have recaptured his mojo. Fernando Llorente returns after registering 29 goals for Athletico Bilbao in another superb season. Pedro Rodriguez has been squeezed out a bit at the Camp Nu this season, but put together a stellar campaign nonetheless. Alvaro Negredo put home 14 for Sevilla. That reminds me. Time for a spiteful rant disparaging the fascist Luis Aragones? Hmm….nah. Not this year. I’m on break.

La Furia Roja are deep at striker. They will survive without Villa. Midfield looks strong as well, where the entire cast returns. Set piece technician Cesc Fabregas may have struggled to prove that he was worth every cent of the 55 Million Euros Barça paid for him, but that’s mainly because he plays alongside Andre Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, and Xavi Hernandez. It’s the most crowded midfield in all of football. Neither one of them put up spectacular numbers this season, but that’s only Barça is sooooo stacked. Juan Mata, Jesus Navas, Xavi Alonso and David Silva all return. Hey, guess who else’s back? Malaga’s Santi Cazorla returns after missing the 2010 World Cup with a hernia. Er….I’ve always been too polite to ask. Isn’t a hernia basically a nutsack strain?

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Del Bosque’s wizardry knew no bounds. Fabregas, Xavi, Xavi Alonso, and Busquets proved a brilliant combination in the successful, if indecisive first match. Iniesta and David Silva were then deputized to feed Torres in what could only be described as a well-designed confidence builder for the kid. Del Bosque trotted out the same formation for the final group match before moving Fabregas up front for the border battle against the French in the knockout stages. Leaving the flukish Quarterfinal aside for the moment, the 4-3-3 he rolled out in the final dropped Fabregas back while pushing Iniesta and David Silva forward. Torres was then substituted in relatively early to nail in the coffin. Zack, Zack, Zack. All the pieces fell into place. Watch him capture the Confederations Cup with such brilliance 

Juanfran isn’t the only new face in defense. Catalan kid Jordi Alba gets his shot as the long-term replacement for Joan Capdevilla. After an intriguing run of play in the qualifiers, we’re all playing close attention. He’ll have to fend off Estella’s Javi Martinez first, a solid central defender who was called up for 2010 side but never played. As noted above, the loss of Puyol will hurt Pique’s game. Spain still has perhaps the best right back in all of football, Real’s Sergio Ramos. While Juanfran takes Puyol’s roster spot, Real’s Raul Albiol will fill in for him in the starting eleven. He’ll do fine. Exhale Amigos.
Iker Casillas returns as captain and number one keep. Poor Pepe Reina hasn’t got around to stabbing him in the shower yet. Seriously, what the hell does Pepe have to do to get some love? When will it finally be HIS turn? Both keepers possess seemingly equal skill. Can’t they at least throw Pepe a bone during a friendly match every once in a while? By the time Casillas retires, Reina will be too old to assume the mantle. They’ll skip right over him and go straight to either Victor Valdes or David da Gea. Was matter mon, you no like Pepe?

Alright. Let’s wrap it up with the bottom line: In spite of the injuries, this squad remains more or less invincible. They’ll plow through this group and beat the everlasting shit of their quarterfinal opponent from Group D. If they are to be defeated, it will be in the semifinals. What a damn shame that this tournament doesn’t have a third place match.

Vicey Presents……… “The All-Ugly Team 2012”


Yes, I’m secure enough in my sexuality to comfortably assess whether or not I think another man is handsome. No, I do not feel like ranking them as I do hot girls or Female football players. No fun in that exercise. I would like to extend the offer to one of my three female readers or perhaps one of the two flaming ones. If you feel like undertaking such a task, your contribution will be valued at…let’s say a $15 betting credit. Have fun and join the fun. It’s just another thing you can do to distract yourself from your inescapable exit from this world of color and consciousness to an eternity of dark nothingness. It’ll be a real mood brightener.

On my end, I’ll take care of the guys in desperate need of a man-to-man confrontation. I feel compelled to do so after seeing the 342,873rd European metrosexual hipster in skin-tight jeans walked past my desk sporting masterfully retarded gelled hair. It’s fucking Jersey Shore Babylon over here. What the situationing-snooki-ing fuck is wrong with you stupid motherfuckers? Someone seriously needs to sit you down and remind you that you possess a pair of testicles. Lose the goddamn hair-gel fop! I’m frankly tired of walking off with the women that were freaked out by your hideous fucking stalagmites. Most of you won’t even have any hair after a few years. Treat it better than this. I acknowledge that I too was once young, vain, and incurably dumb. Dismayed at the gradual darkening of my once platinum blonde hair, I had it highlighted a few times and even fully dyed once or twice. Then one day I awoke to the realization that I was not, in fact, endowed with a vaginal cavity. Time to man up, mates. Football players especially…

“All Ugly Team” Candidates—Spain 

Gerard Pique 

Rugged, handsome, and a nice chin to boot. Gerard, why are you spending so much time in front of the mirror? It must take twenty minutes to perfect that hairstyle! No woman should ever have to admonish her man for spending too much time in the bathroom! This should never happen! Of course you’re Spanish and everything, but why be late to EVERYTHING because you were dicking around with your hair?

Sergio Ramos 

Much like Sami Khedira, Sergio Ramos doesn’t belong on this list. I simply had to find an excuse to show you this picture:

Sigh. Life’s good when you’re a footballer. I’ll never get within thirty yards of that woman. I could cry now.

Jordi Alba 

For the thousandth time, what the coagulated crusty fuck possesses an otherwise decent looking dude to run gelatinized garbage through his hair until he looks like a grown-up Alfalfa strung out after a week-long cocaine binge? This pisses me off more than black women with an obvious weave. STOP IT! You’re beautiful AS IS!

Xavi Hernandez 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for impersonating Satan. One of my hobbies in fact. I’m afraid our dear boy Xavi has just taken it a little too far:

Cesc Fabregas 

Excellent. The good news is he dropped the mullet:

The bad news is…well…the bad news pretty much speaks for itself.

Santi Carzola 

Not be outdone, Santi combines the worst of both Fabregas Looks. Why not go for a mullet AND spikes:

Jesus Navas 

Yes, I’m sure this picture adorns many a Spanish Chica’s wall. Here’s the Sevilla midfielder trying out for the Iberian 90210. Infinitely sadder, in my search for bad hair, I had to leave an electronic cookie on a website entitled “A Disfutar Chicas”. Christ I don’t even want to think about what’s going to be in my spam box tomorrow morning.

Fernando Torres 

You had to know this one was coming. Poor Torres has lived his entire life in denial. You’re not blond, Fernando! Deal with it!

 Projecting the Spanish Lineup (4-2-3-1) 

                             Fernando Llorente
Juan Mata                                                  Pedro Rodriguez
                              Andres Iniesta
Xavi Hernandez                                   Cesc Fabregas
Jordi Alba    Gerard Pique   Raul Albiol     Sergio Ramos 


Quite the preponderance of uncharacteristic modesty in the Azzuri camp. New Wop Trainer Ceasare Prandelli freely admits that his squad will not capture Europe. One can hardly fault them for the caution. It’s been a tumultuous six years since they stole the cup on German soil in 2006. After the failed Donadoni experiment and the disastrous Marcello Lippi comeback in 2010, expectations must be tampered. The more subdued Prandelli has been quietly rebuilding a national eleven that said arrivederci to long-term staples Fabio Cannavaro, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Gianluca Zambrotta, and Mauro Cameronesi. Three immortal veterans, Gianluigi Buffon, Antonio Di Natale and Andrea Prilo, return to captain a club featuring plenty of fresh faces.

A trip to the quarterfinals hangs by the most tenuous of threads. More specifically, success for the Azzuri depends heavily on the random neurons firing in the mentally unstable neural network of Man City Striker Mario Balotelli. If you’re unfamiliar with the borderline bipolar man with the Mohawk, the cat constantly lifting up his powder blue jersey to reveal a “Why Always Me?” Tee, he’s essentially the Ron Artest (Metta World Peace) of football. The 21-year-old of Ghanaian descent had a monster year for the Premiership champions and will surely eventually mature into one of the greatest of all time. Out of concern for team cohesion, Prandelli remains conservative when calling up Balotelli. He’s been up and down since November. Hesitancy will likely lead the Dago skipper to start Cassano and Di Natale at striker, even if it would be braver and wiser to insert the X-factor. Cassano was lackluster for AC Milan this season and Balotelli could feed better balls to Di Natale all evening long. The sooner the former Fiorentina frontman dumps Cassano, the closer the Guineas can close in on the quarterfinals. Italian fans have to rue the fact that Villarreal’s Giuseppe Rossi isn’t available. With him in the lineup the issue would be settled.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

If you only knew how much the Germans curse Mario Balotelli. They don’t curse him as much as the filthy dirty racist Dagos…

Daniel de Rossi and Pirlo return to direct an overhauled midfield. Bologna’s Alessandro Diamanti and Paris St-Germain’s Thiago Motta are both 29-year-old rookies, something one rarely sees on the national level. They were called up to supplement Juventus-Turin’s Claudio Marchisio and Fiorentina’s Riccardo Montolivo, two players that were waiting in the wings during the Cannavaro/Zambrotta days. The back line is also comprised of older players with surprisingly little caps. Say what one will about this approach, converted fullback Giorgio Chiellini led the Azzuri defense to the lowest goals against total in the qualifying round. Gianluigi Buffon returns between the pipes now sporting the captain’s armband. The two backup keepers have 6 caps between them, meaning Buffon is so vital to this team that they don’t even give him a day off for friendlies.

Vicey Presents……… “The All-Ugly Team 2012”


“All Ugly Team” Candidates--Italy 

Thiago Motta 

Having shaved two thirds of one’s head, why not simply complete the job?

Federico Balzaretti 

Dear Lord, it’s the second coming of Christ…..or a Lebowski reference if you prefer. Nice highlights, dude.

Ignazio Abate 

Almost harvest time for that turnip

Mario Balotelli 

Now he’s rocking the Died Mohawk, but it’s not his first desperate plea for attention. Last year he invited us all to help the mouse find it’s cheese. Surely he got this idea from the kid’s placement over at Denny’s.

Antonio Cassano 

The hairstyle is of course atrocious, but even it’s overshadowed by that swimsuit. For fuck’s sake man, take that banana out of your speedo!

Emmanuelle Giacherreni 

Whenever I hear the name Emmanuelle, I automatically gear up to glean some tips on sensual love over on “Skinemax After Dark”. As of today, I now have to think of this guy and his mad attempt to lacerate his head as well.

Alessandro Diamanti 

Oh Alessandro. I’ve heard of dreadlocks, but SHIT-Locks!

 Projecting the Italian Lineup (4-3-1-2) 

               Antonio Cassano       Antonio Di Natale
                        Ricardo Montolivo
Claudio Marchisio            Andrea Pirlo   Daneille De Rossi
Domenico Criscito    Girgio Chiellini    A. Barzagli    C. Maggio

Republic of Ireland
Country flag of Ireland

Thank God! Welcome back Land of Erin. You don’t know how much I’ve missed you, how much I’ve NEEDED you. The Boys in Green join us for their first European Championship since 1988 and their first meaningful tournament since 2002. The Finals just haven’t been the same without you. Never leave us again. NEVER! As Giovanni Trappatoni put it, “the cat is in the sack!”. Make up your own mind as to what the hell that means.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Brother Giovanni…where art thou? 

Prospects remain dim even as the squad features 20 Premiership players. American fans might recognize captain Robbie Keane of the LA Galaxy…or not. Keane has spent most of the season on loan to Birmingham’s Aston Villa. As tournaments approach, most MLS players have to sharpen their skills in more competitive leagues to maintain their edge. Keane has dressed 115 times for the boys in green, scoring 53 goals for Eyre. He’s your superstar. No definitive word yet on who he will pair with up front, but I’ll will likely be one of the three midland Strikers from West Bromwich Albion, Shane Long, Simon Cox or Kevin Doyle. Stoke’s Kevin Doyle and Kevin Doyle of recently relegated Wolves are also on hand. 

Though he’s nowhere near Keane’s level, Fulham midfielder Damien Duff is another legitimate star in midfield. (Duff Man is thrusting in the appropriate direction!) Keeping him company are Everton’s Darren Gibson, Stoke’s Glen Whelan and West Brom’s Keith Andrews. The four comprising that last line of defense before Aston Villa’s Shay Given will probably be Stephen War of Wolves, Leister City’s Sean St. Ledger, Sunderland’s John O’Shea and Villa’s Richard Dunne.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

The line “Duff Man is thrusting in the appropriate direction comes from “The Simpsons”…in the unlikely event anyone was wondering. 

Ahem. Yes, you can tell I watch an inordinate amount of Premiership football. It’s by far my favorite league and I follow it even more closely than the Bundesliga. I know all of these players quite well….which happens to regrettably be the main reason I cannot pick with my heart. I’ll be rooting for this squad with all my soul, but it just doesn’t add up. I’d be overjoyed to see them upset the Wops and Croats, even if it costs me a little money. I’d love to see Trappatoni become this year’s Rehhagel. I’d be ecstatic to travel to Dublin for the final match. Hmmmm….it’s possible I’ll end up betting my heart in some instances anyway. I just want it to happen. Why can’t this happen?!?

Editor’s retroactive notes:

As is the case with the vast majority of dreams, this one died a quiet and unceremonious death. Phrew. How infinitely sad. It’s doubtful will be seeing the land of Erin in a meaningful international football tournament anytime soon. 

Vicey Presents……… “The All-Ugly Team 2012”


“All Ugly Team” Candidates—Ireland 

Shane Cox 

Spikes belong on your boots. Nowhere else.

Thankfully we have only one. No “fancy boys” here. These Anglos are men’s men. You’ll love to watch them play. You’ll never see an Irishmen dive or roll around feigning injury. They play with honor.

 Projecting the Irish Lineup (4-4-2) 

                  Kevin Doyle        Robbie Keane
Damien Duff                                Darron Gibson
               Keith Andrews   Glen Whelan

Stephen Ward  Sean St. Ledger  Richard Dunne John O’Shea


Four years after the Turkish Miracle, Slaven Billic and his tablecloth-clad eleven avenged their defeat in the qualifying stages and muscled their way back into Europe. A star-studded bunch this one is, albeit with several glaring deficiencies. For starters, Bilic has to find a workable striking tandem up front. Compatibility issues, injuries, and failed experiments have plagued this team since the failed 2010 qualifying campaign. One might even say they haven’t been right since Klasnic’s kidney problems. Newly signed Wolfsburg forward Ivica Olic still struggles with fitness issues as he recovered from injury. Shakhtar Donesk’s Eduardo da Silva exhibits fading form and was never a fitting complement to either Illicevic or Jelavic either. Don’t be surprised if Billic brings either Mandukovich or even Luca Modric up front. His striking corps is so out of whack that he might as well give the midfielders a look.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Billic and the boys got off to a cracking start, but ultimately ended up squandering their opportunities. Had Billic brought either Mandzukovich or Modrich forwards, matters might have turned out differently. 

Tottenham stars Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar give the Blazers the edge in central midfield as well as on the left flank. Add the speedy and technically brilliant captain, Shakhtar’s Dario Srna to the mix on the right and they easily have the most dangerous midfield in the tournament. Very few teams will be capable of competing with them on that score. Defense, however, remains strewn with question marks. Daniel Pranjic is nowhere near his disastrous “Tweeds” Season of 2011, when he found himself sent down to Bayern München II. He’s still in the midst of a form crisis and has logged too few starts to have a reliable touch. On the topic of form crises, Josip Simunic continues to tank over at Dynamo Zagreb. That wipes out the entire left half of the defense. The other half a’int looking too bright either. The injury to Lyon’s Dejan Lovren means that Eintracht Frankfurt’s Gordon Schildenfeld will have to fill in. In the event you don’t follow the second Bundesliga… haven’t missed much. He’s not a top tier player. Tottenham’s Verdran Corluka is also less than inspiring. Having no real use for him, Harry Redknapp shipped him off the Leverkusen on loan this season, where he’s barely played.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Kranjcar played in all three matches, but failed to register as factor. Pranjic was similarly M.I.A. Billic barely even bothered to deploy Corluka. 

This stunningly porous line begets two serious consequences. First, it puts more pressure on keeper Stipe Pletikosa precisely when he doesn’t need it. He’s been wasting away at FC Rostov in the Russian League, decaying rather precipitously at the age of thirty-three. Next, all the immense talent of Modric, Srna and Kranjcar will be for naught if they’re constantly back helping at the back. Overall, contrary to the sportswriter consensus, I don’t see this team getting out of the group.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

At the very least, one must commend Mandzukic on a beast of a tournament. He scored three of four goals. Jelavic provided the outlier.  

Vicey Presents……… “The All-Ugly Team 2012”


“All Ugly Team” Candidates—Croatia 

Mario Mandzukic 

Okay. My hair does this naturally some days. Actually TRYING to pull off the Reptilian look is another matter.

Ivo Illicevic 

I’ll allow the hair. It’s not egregious. I enclose this picture as it will certainly be the last one of him in an FCK uniform. Oh, my beloved Rote Teufel have been relegated…AGAIN. What sucks even more than getting sent down a league is the loss of all your best players. They jump ship immediately. Life’s not fair.

Ivica Olic 

For the love of all that is sacred, try NOT to look like a child molester.


Hmmm…I bet he drives to the matches in a Delorean.

 Projecting the Croat Lineup (4-4-2) 

                  Nikica Jelavic        Eduardo

Niko Kranjcar    Luka Modric           Dario Srna
                         Ivan Rakitic
Daniel Pranjic   Josip Simunic G. Schildenfeld V. Corluka

Vicey’s Fearless Group Prediction (2 to 1 odds for bookie):

1) Spain 
2) Italy 
3) Croatia 
4) Republic of Ireland 

Overall Championship Odds:

Spain (Straight up)
Italy (3 to 1)
Croatia (4 to 1)
Republic of Ireland (4 to 1)

Quarterfinal Odds:

Spain (NO BETS)
Italy  (Straight up)
Croatia (2 to 1)
Ireland (NO BETS)