Friday, January 30, 2015

CAN 2015--Quarterfinals

Karibu Syndicate Members,

Africa heats up and I sincerely hope you’ll be joining us. The burden of following two Continental Championships is not lost on your friendly bookie. He knows full well how cumbersome it can be. That’s the primary reason why your Quarterfinal Lines shall be delivered sans a mailbag or a “Classic Re-post”.

No time for distractions tonight, brothers. No hokey tricks. Straight football.

All of your riffs have been received and ruminated upon. Responses are in order and shall be delivered.

Semi-Final Lines are forthcoming ; ) ; ) 

My Updated Stats:

Spread: 4-20
Straight Up: 4-10-10

Seriously fucked up stats there. As insane as the tournament itself

Goodbyes Section

16th Place—Burkina Faso

Shirt badge/Association crest

Down goes bookie!

Down goes Bookie!



As it turned out, my preferred racehorse turned out to have two broken legs. No need to resort to surgery. I’m not calling up Robert Redford to whisper to this wounded steed either. We’re going to euthanise these “non-starter nags” right now. What a fiasco! I’ll never back an equine-inspired team again. Between them and the Broncos, I’ve lost a sizeable chunk of change. ; (

Hopes ran high as your friendly bookie welcomed one his oldest mates back into the fold and devoted a large chunk of his valuable time to composing a hefty primer section on the Stallions. He belittled such worrying trends as club demotions for Jonathan Pitroipa and Charles Kabore. He brushed aside serious form downgrades manifested by both Aristide Bance and Alain Traore. He completely disregarded the absence of previously relevant catalysts such as Issouf Outtara, Willy Sanou, and Moumani Dagano.

The initial loss was easily explained away. The Gabonese Panthers had, after all, owned the Stallions. Surely Paul Put could come up with a winning formula one way or another. Moreover, encouraging signs from youngsters Jonathan Zongo and Bertrand Traore allowed hope to burgeon.

Then came the devastating “double-down” flowing the Equatorial Guinea draw. It seemed perfectly plausible that such an inherently talented side could bloom late and take care of business. Plenty of Independent Oddsmakers likely erred on the same side. Put declined to show confidence in his young phenom (Bertrand Traore) and his older talisman (Aristide Banc). The lineup selection looked far too safe. By the time the long-serving Belgian head coach inserted the right players….it was far too late. ; (

So-long Stallions. Catch up with you guys in two years.  

15th Place—South Africa

Heart does indeed count for a lot. Go boys, go! Glorious Tomahawk Strike from Mandla Masango! Even more impressive, he recovered from a stumble and kept his nerve on the retrace before unleashing that volley. Each of their three fixtures featured a sensational story. Far more importantly, each of their three fixtures featured a goal. A draw and two defeats never looked so good.

We presaged the bottom of the table from the outset, noting of course that Tokelo Rantie would provide us with some memorable moments of magic. He didn’t disappoint. Neither did the unconventional style of intrepid head coach Ephraim Mashaba. Three different formations. Three unique-looking midfields. Three separate young goalkeepers, all of whom had a paltry five international caps or less.

Mashaba clearly used the tournament as an important experimental round in his ongoing rebuilding process. The future looks bright indeed for Bafana. If Majoro and Khumalo can rediscover their form. If Tshabalala can mount a late comeback. If Steven Pienaar (and this is the BIG “if) can be coaxed out of retirement…..oh they might prove dangerous in the years to come.

Regardless, it’s going to be a blast watching Tokelo Rantie in the Premiership next season. Oh yes. They’re coming. Get ready for the Cherries!

14th Place—Cameroon

Shirt badge/Association crestIn the end, Volker Finke’s new-look Lions could only achieve similarly inadequate results. Oh well. At least “Les Indomitables” avoided a cataclysmic fiasco. Fans of the West African Powerhouse can once again hold their heads high. Embarrassment averted. Why not revel in that?

Let’s talk future. One can easily divine Finke’s intent in assigning Chupo-Moting and Mbia defensive midfield roles. Giving Aboubakar and Salli the opportunity to hone their own brand of on-pitch leadership was more important. Though the ploy didn’t necessarily yield immediate dividends, it could pay off should Africa’s most successful World Cup Team qualify in three years.  Such a long-term strategy doesn’t directly benefit Finke, who will likely be on his merry way soon enough. He leaves his mark for posterity’s sake, and we may all find ourselves grateful in good time.

This bookie is certainly glad he didn’t buy in after that second round draw. The weaknesses of this team were legion. Plenty to build on, though. Aboubakar and Salli merit closer inspection in the years to come.

 13th Place—Zambia
Shirt badge/Association crest 
Of course they weren’t going to be able to knick it without Emannuel Mayuka! That elegant yet insipid piece of acrobatics sealed the Chipolopolo fate. Surely he wishes he could have that one back. Twenty-year-old Evans Kanga and nineteen-year-old tyro Lubambo Musonda moved up to back up Rainford Kalaba, forced into the emergency lead striker role. Thrust into the fray at such tender ages, they played about as well as one might expect….good, but nowhere near good enough.

Mayuka’s year is only beginning. Premiership fans will remain laser-focused on him as the Southampton Saints continue their historic run at the EPL Top four. Insofar as the Copper Bullets are concerned, however, it’s over for the foreseeable future. As solid a tournament as Rainford Kalaba and Given Singaluma had, they’re both approaching their respective thirtieth birthdays and both playing hard physical football in the demanding Congo DR domestic league.

Should Honor Janza stay on, his priority task will be rebuilding a stable back four capable of some intuitive trust. Your friendly bookie noted the travails of the Zambian defensive unit in his previous installment. Keeper Kennedy Mweenie can conceivably carry a tepid offense back to qualification in 2017, provided he has some support from his last line. Mweenie is now 30, but that’s wholly irrelevant as pertains to his position.

Hope to see him, and this irresistibly fun team to analyze, back in two years time.

12th Place—Cape Verde
Shirt badge/Association crest 
A nil-nil draw just wasn’t good enough for the re-branded “Minnows”, who admittedly find themselves excluded from the Knockouts on a hard-luck 3rd Tiebreaker. Much can be made of the fact that they never lost…but they didn’t win either!! Sorry lads. The advancing Congolese may have also only achieved three draws via two goals…but you only tallied ONE. When one thinks about, this particular tiebreaker can’t be classified as “hard luck” at all.

Carlos Lima (or Calú) came crashing back down to earth with poor positioning and even poorer heading. Carlitos couldn’t find his footing the rain. Surprise starting center-forward Garry Rodrguez was miles away from accurate with both his delivery and goal-bound efforts. Absolutely nothing from Heldon Ramos (Nhuck), Ryan Mendes, or Toni Varela all night long. Djaniny and Kuca evidently didn’t get the memo that substitutes are ideally supposed to INCREASE player pace and overall tempo. The absence of Babanco (for reasons unknown to this bookie) loomed large.

Plenty of praise is in order for fullbacks like Stopira and de Barros (Gegé). Together they engineered what was easily one of the best defensive performances this bookie has seen in any tournament.


Someone still has to score goals, however. Someone. ANYONE!!

11th Place—Gabon

 The Panthers have only themselves to blame for squandering away their ticket to the Knockouts after a downright sloppy match against the hosts. We saw practically nothing from either Malik Evouna or Pierre-Emmerick Aubameyang in that flaccid final 90. Both would appear to have their minds already re-focused on completing their club campaigns. Despite all of the hype surrounding Jorge Costa’s plethora of striking options, Lengoualama and Rogombe turned out to be total duds.

Biyogo-Poko, Mahinda, and Frederic Bulot all failed to click in what appeared a rather makeshift formation hastily designed to account for the curious non-start of N’Dong. Bulot played too far up, Mahinda too far back. Kanga didn’t seem to know where to go. Terrible game turned in by the two fullbacks, both of whom were booked for clumsy challenges. Llyod Palun’s blundering take-down in the 51st gave the game away.

In the end they exited with a whimper, Aubameyang fulfilling an early prophesy of this book by trying to do way too much in possession. Fare thee well, boys. The core remains young enough to keep this country afloat in Africa for years to come. See you cats in 2017.

10th Place—Senegal

 As augured all the way back at the beginning, the Senegalese back line were entirely too slow to mark and clear effectively. Defensive breakdowns would negate the wicked attacking promise of Premiership stars Papiss Cisse, Mame Biram Diouf, and Sadio Mane. Your friendly bookie has been fully vindicated…or not ; )

Cisse saw his first action as a 54th minute substitute in the Algeria match. Mane’s name was called perhaps twice throughout the group stage. The much-maligned Kara Mbodj produced a memorable goal. Pape Soure not only hustled throughout, he also put in a heroic effort coming off the bench injured to deputize for the hurt Chiek M’Bengue. So much for my theories. Even if they were right in a general sense, I got all of the actors wrong.

Dame N’Doye and M.B. Diouf proved a joy to watch. Moussa Sow needs to get out of the Turkish League and into a Confederation I have time to watch immediately.

C’mon back “Lions of Teranga”! Let’s please not go another twelve years without seeing one another again!  

9th Place—Mali
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 Down they go on LOTS! Oh, what shitty luck. Another mammoth effort from the defensive unit of “Les Aigles” and they miss out on the Knockouts thanks to an inadvertent handball and an unfortunate draw of the short straw. Ouch. I feel their pain. So does my wallet. ; ( ; (

Credulous lineup selected by the Pollack. Ferocious pitch presence from Yatabare.

A beast of a game from Diaby and Sako in relief. Textbook header from Maiga. What went wrong? Sometimes it’s just not your day. Had one single solitary thing broken their way, we’d be heralding our Desert Eagles and proclaiming “FUCK ANSAR DINE—ALL THE WAY” all over again.

Twasn’t to be this year. So it goes in life sometimes. Deserving winners end up losers. Them’s the breaks. ; (

Who’s ready to rock some lines? Gear up, brothers.


Congo NDR vs. Congo DR

  vs. Democratic Republic of the Congo

Start your day with the historic “Congolese Derby”. It’s a gigantic “fuck you” to the mortal remains of King Leopold (may he forever rot in hell). Two very good teams look set to give us quite the show.

Kidiaba always comes through like a champ. Bolassie appears fit and Mulumbu might make it back as well. Should he be unable to put in an appearance, Mbokani, Mabwati, Mubele, or Makaidi can step it up…or so augurs your friendly bookie.

The “Other Congo” shouldn’t be taken lightly. Les “Diables Rouges Africain” have catapulted their way to the top of our inter-round rankings thanks to the hard play of badass strikers like Thievy Bifouma and Ferebory Dore. They dispatched the favored Burkinabés with ease.

A tight match is projected. Extra time and Penalty Shootout Odds must be listed as “Straight Up”.

Projected Lineups:

 “The Red Devils of Africa”—(4-4-2) 

     Thievy Bifouma  Ferebory Doré
Delvin N’Dinga       Arnold Bouka Moutou
    Prince Oniangue  Cesaire Gandze
Dimitri Bissiki        Marvin Baudry
    Francis N’Ganga  Boris Moubhibo
              Christoffer Mafoubi

 “The Leopards”—(4-5-1) 

                        Yannick Bolasie
Dieumerci Mbokani             Cedric Mabwati
   F.N. Mubele  Cedric Makaidi    Lema Mabidi  
Jean Kasusula                              Issama Mpeko
        Cedric Mongongu Joel Kimwaki
                        Robert Kidiaba

THE LINE: Congo DR +1 Goal

Prop Bets (as always, feel free to offer your own)

Over/Under—4 Goals 
120 Minutes—Straight Up
Penalty Shootout—Straight Up

Equatorial Guinea vs. Tunisia

 Equatorial Guinea vs. Tunisia

The underdog hosts made it through, just as your friendly bookie predicted. What a pity he couldn’t cash in on those initial group projections. Goddamn Stallions. ; (

A less meticulous man would be impressed by the 2-0 victory against Gabon in the Final Group Stage Match. Take a few seconds to scroll upwards if you care to see why this bookie isn’t even remotely dazzled.

The E.G. Centerbacks will be rail split by Akaichi and Mskani. This one might get bloody ugly.

Projected Lineups:

 “The National Thunder”—(4-4-2) 

      Emilio Nsue    Javier Balboa
            R. Fabiani     Iban
         Kike                  Zarandona
 Sipo                                       Randy
         Rui    Diosdado Mbele
                 Felipe Ovono   

 “The Eagles of Carthage”—(4-3-3) 

        Youssef Mskani  Ahmed Akaichi
                     Yassine Chickhaoui
            M. Ali Manser   Wahbi Khazri
                         Hocine Ragued
A. Maaloul A. Abdennour S.B. Youssef H. Mathlouthi
                         A. Matholouthi

THE LINE: Tunisia +2 Goals

Prop Bets (as always, feel free to offer your own)

Over/Under—3 Goals 
120 Minutes—2 to 1
Penalty Shootout—3 to 1


Cote d’Ivoire vs. Algeria

 Ivory Coast vs. Algeria

Clash of the Titans! This Sportsbook overflows with praise for Slimani, Feghouli, Brahimi, and Lacen. Gourcuff’s version of the Desert Foxes is the best since the 1990 Championship Squad. How will they fare against the hungry Elephants with a returning Gervinho?

Tough call. Here’s how your Syndicate opts to crack the tough nut:

Bony and Kalou work in a few chances well wide of the net. They don’t net a goal, but manage to tire out the centerbacks. Yaya Toure feeds, but doesn’t tire himself out too much. Bougherra and Medjani wear down over the course of 90+ minutes. Gourcuff then subs in Halliche, who nervously makes an uncharacteristic error. That mistake enables Kolo Toure to execute a square switch to his brother. Yaya blindly laces a punt forward that Gervinho latches onto. Gervinho locates fellow substitute Seydou Doumbia with an inviting cross and its 1-0 in the 95th. 

Shortly thereafter, Serge Aurier charges up the flanks and swings a perfect arc in for Cheick Tiote for the 2-0 lead in the 102nd. 

Everyone got that?

Hehe. If only predicting these games could be as much fun as watching them : )

Check your Prop Bets Odds, Syndicate Members. Just such an occurrence has been massaged into the numbers.

Projected Lineups:

 “Les Elephants”—(4-4-2) 

      Wilfred Bony  Soloman Kalou
            Gervinho   Max Gradel
                    Yaya Toure
                   Cheick Tiote
S. Tiene W. Kanon K. Toure S. Aurier
                Sylvain Gbohouo

 “The Desert Foxes”—(4-4-2) 

        Islam Slimani El Arbi Soudani
Riyad Mahrez                    Sofiane Feghouli
         Yacine Brahimi Mehdi Lacen
Faouzi Ghoulam                      Aissa Mandi
      Majid Bougherra  Carl Medjani
                      Rais M’Bohli

THE LINE: Cote d’Ivoire +2 Goals

Prop Bets (as always, feel free to offer your own)

Over/Under—2 Goals 
120 Minutes—Straight Up
Penalty Shootout—3 to 1

Ghana vs. Guinea

 Ghana vs. 

With all due respect to Ibrahima Traore, a team that snuck through on lots can’t hope to make it past such a talented lineup. Cannot envision this one happening. The Ayew Brothers can close Traore down. Should they fail, Atsu will hold his own in a toe-to-toe matchup.

Conte and Constant can count themselves lucky ducks for their penalties. Avram Grant will pick the right eleven. Agyemang-Badu will direct traffic efficiently. The Black Stars will cruise right on through to the final four. Prospects will be re-evaluated after this romp.

Projected Lineups:

 “The Black Stars”—(4-2-3-1) 

                 Asamoah Gyan
 Andre Ayew                  Jordan Ayew
                  Christian Atsu       
      W. Mubarak  E. Agyemang-Badu
B. Rahman D. Amartey J. Mensah H. Afful
                  Brimah Razak

 “The National Elephants”—(4-2-3-1) 

                Moustapha Yatabare
 Mohammed Yattara        Abdoul Camara
                   Ibrahima Traore
       Ibrahima Conte Kevin Constant
I. Sylla      F. Pogba F. Camara      A. Cisse
                      Naby Yattara

THE LINE: Ghana +2 Goals

Prop Bets (as always, feel free to offer your own)

Over/Under—4 Goals 
120 Minutes—2 to 1
Penalty Shootout—3 to 1


Thursday, January 29, 2015

AFC 2015--Championship Pick

Servus Syndicate Members,

2015Approximately 34 hours until we crown a new Asian Champion. The Winner of Saturday’s showdown in Sydney will automatically book passage to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, rendering the field for our World Cup Dress Rehearsal 1/4th complete.

Irrespective of the final outcome, the Asian Confederation will crown a new and relatively novel champion. Reigning title-holders and four-time winners Japan were surprisingly eliminated in the Quarterfinals.

The Taeguks of South Korea seek to capture their first AFC Trophy since 1960. They square off against the plucky hosts, who only just switched over to the AFC from Oceania after the 2006 World Cup. The Socceroos seek to reach the pinnacle of their new confederation despite atrocious recent FIFA rankings that leave them unable to crack the top 100. Should the hosts prevail, the 2015 campaign should be recorded as a “Fairy Tale Run” by any objective chronicler.

If you’re just joining us, you’ve missed out on a great deal of fun. No matter. You’ve also missed out on some truly impertinent crap. Have no fear, your friendly bookie is here. ; ) ; ) Vicey will get you all caught up.

The 2015 AFC Asian Cup kicked off January 7th in Melbourne. This was initially news to your friendly bookie, who wrongly assumed it was scheduled sometime later in the month. Luckily, fifteen years worth of nightmares revolving around a class that he didn’t realize he had registered for until Finals Week enabled him to shake of the Holiday Hangover and do some last minute cramming. “Geo-Syndicate Redux” debuted an impressive five minutes before kickoff…thanks in large part to a proportionally large sacrifice of that overrated commodity known as “sleep”.

Many doubted the status accorded to the Aussies. Favorites? Really? Don't doubt a Kraut. The Aussies opened proceedings with an emphatic 4-1 thrashing of Kuwait. Round One kept up the cracking pace. Two other Nations netted four goals in their debut. The Uzbeks and Chinese upset their opponents. None of the initial matches ended in a draw. We were up and running.

A totally unforeseen number of Syndicate Members checked in to report that they were braving the unforgiving hours to watch the Cup matches on their laptops. No U.S.-Based network carried the games. Even native Aussie (and evil human manifestation of the Herpes Virus crossed with a rapidly wilting turd) Rupert Murdoch couldn’t be bothered to broadcast the matches on one of his Fox Sports Channels.

Er…..still looking forward to Fox’s coverage of the Women’s World Cup this Summer!! Viva la Fox!

Round Two featured some unforgettable flair from Jordanian forward Hamza Al-Dardour. In an unforgettable performance, he snuck FOUR goals past the Palestinian keeper in a spectacle that defies description. The Saudis made an unexpectedly brilliant bid for the knockout stages courtesy of an Al-Sahlawi brace and your friendly bookie picked them to advance to the Quarterfinals. Sadly enough, the Saudis choked and their monarch of ten years dropped dead. Tough shit. When it rains it pours.

By the time the group stages were complete, your friendly bookie was happy to rid himself of what he described as “eight inherently annoying [Dead Weight] teams.” No apology necessary. I’ve already forgotten what meager contributions Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain made to this tournament. Kuwait retains “cool status”. All of us Geo-politics addicts loved watching Palestine, as bittersweet as it was. Jordan gets a pass thanks to Al-Dardour. North Korea doesn’t count. The remaining four countries can get to work on a cartoon of the Blessed and Exalted Prophet orally satisfying himself.

What? Someone wish to see my pencil? I’ll happily show you my pencil! Writers don’t scare. Neither do cartoonists. Welcome to “Civilization”, towelheads.



Two amazing “Instant Classic” Quarterfinal Matches captivated football fans everywhere. Iran and Iraq gave us an epic four the ages. Six goals, five lead changes and seven penalty shootout rounds left everyone watching dismissive of the need to go to work in the morning. The U.A.E. pushed Japan to the full 120 minutes and gave us five rounds of heart-piercing drama as well. Asia ceased to be predictable on that day. It was quite the lionhearted win.

Things settled down in the Semis and two of the initial favorites now contend for the title.

You’re all caught up, brothers. Enjoy the Asian Finale!

Thanks for a great tournament, Asia.



One more time....



A sign reads 'not afraid' as thousands gather for a vigil on Place de la Republique in Paris on Wedn

My Updated Stats

Spread: 14-16
Straight Up: 21-8-1

This will still augment the heinously rotten African Stats. The two will be combined following the Quarters.

Third Place Match

Iraq vs. U.A.E.


Syndicate Members know full well that Third Place matches are open and free-flowing affairs. The tangentially interested need only think back to Germany’s Third Place Playoffs in 2006 and 2010. Others might recall that there actually hasn’t been a disappointing Third Place Playoff in the entire twelve-year-history of the Syndicate.

Tune in! It’ll be fun. All wagers will be accepted!

THE LINE: Iraq +2 Goals

Supreme Champion of the Asian-Footballing- Universe

South Korea vs. Australia

 South Koreavs. Australia

A Confederations Cup Berth is on the line and ALL BETS ARE ON. For the benefit of those furiously scrolling down, that needs to be reiterated with some assistance from the CAPS LOCK Key!


Your friendly bookie stands prepared to back Uli Stielike. His Koreans have not yet ceded a goal in this tournament. Postecoglou has already rolled out his best lineup, and his best striker/midfielders have logged too many minutes. It’ll be close, but we’re still hitting the button. For the first time in an actual championship match…..


THE LINE: South Korea +1 Goal


Sunday, January 25, 2015

AFC 2015--Semi-Finals

Time to head back “Down Un-dah” Syndicate Members,

2015The Asian Continental Championship reaches its penultimate chapter. Everyone tired of hearing me prattle on about African drivel is cordially invited to chill for a couple of days.

The Asian Cup semi-finals offer one compelling match between the South Koreans and Iraqis. That fixture kicks off this very eve. The Australia vs. U.A.E. Affair will most likely be less entertaining, but it’s still worth a look if you happen to find yourself awake at that ungodly hour.

Analysis of the “Asian Final Four” follows. Two lines and six prop bets. Scroll on down. ; ) ; )

Africa may be closer to your friendly bookie’s heart, but he’s still excited about watching these matches. Where’s our graphic? Someone please conjure up the graphic!!

Asia lives. Graphic please ; ) 

My Updated Stats

Spread: 13-15
Straight Up: 20-7-1

Asia is just too predictable…or at least I thought as much. Interesting Quarterfinal Round. Another totally unexpected upset may yet be in the mix.

Quick Mailbag tonight, Gentlemen.

 Related image

Reader: You sucked me in to reading…and I missed the chance to bet on the lines!

Vicey: You know better than that, 28-M. You’re supposed to scroll down until you se the flags!!

Reader: Why is it always about the numbers with you?

Vicey: Because numbers are sexy, 102-M!! Don’t you know about “sexy primes”? the Sexy Primes are the sexiest of all prime numbers. You already know that Prime Numbers are integers only divisible by the number 1 and themselves. “Sexy Primes” are prime numbers separated by six integers. The easiest (and obvious first example) are the numbers 5 and 11. Those are very sexy numbers.

If 5 and 11 had a threesome with another number…then they’d instantly be divisible. That’s the magic of the “sexy primes”. They remind you that Group Sex is ALWAYS a bad idea. 

Reader: Tired, Vicey? Are you a German Pansy?

Vicey: There’s no such thing as a “German Pansy” ; ) Don’t confuse me or my people with the Austrians. That’s an entirely different breed. Bunch of wannabe Pseudo-Hungarian Composers.


Found myself thinking about prostrate fatigue recently. Believe it or not, it can be a good thing. Check out the dispatch from Day Three of last Summer’s activities.

From WM 2014—Day Three Recap:

WM 2014 Let’s get everyone caught up on all the exciting action from Day Three. Yesterday your friendly bookie augured that the overall pace of matters would invariably slow down a bit. “What goes up, must come down”? Screw Newton. We’re defying gravity. Slow down, you say? Slow down and prepare for Jack Bolling’s “malice”? SLOW DOWN?

Surely it was time to take our foot of the gas pedal. The reliably boring and stingy defensive Greek Pirate Ship only conceded FOUR MEASLEY goals in European Qualifying. Besides that, Radomel “El Tigre” Falcao would be watching this game from the stands! The “Coffee Growers” were having none of it. They stormed out of the gate like they had just downed eight espressos and snorted four rails of Premium Columbian Blow. Armero’s 6th minute goal took a deflection, but it was the culmination of some great play in and out of the box. Zapata and Cuardado were in involved in the build up. Zapata punted an awesome long ball forward and Cuardado executed some wicked sling dribbling. James Rodriguez proved himself a team player with the faux layoff. BOOM. Another roaring start.

Fernando Santos’s men surprised us all with some attacking intent of their own. Nice moves from Samaras and mobile Left Winger Panagiotis Kone. Breathtaking first half. We picked up right where we left off after the restart. Sweet distance strike from Rodriguez. Incredible flick on from Aguilar for the second goal. More exciting moments from Gekas and Samaras as the half wore on and a wonderful top off from Rodriguez deep into injury time.

Whew. Your friendly bookie found himself exhausted after merely watching this cherry bomb of a match….and it was only the first of four!

SLOW DOWN? Surely the next encounter would bring us back down. Absent Suarez, the Uruguayans could be depended upon to play ugly and dirty. We’d have plenty of time to glance away from the screen with all those midfield whistles and languid throw-ins. This one had “defensive stalemate” written all over it.

To hell with that. Godin and Cavani generated quality chances early on, with the latter missing out on a golden opportunity. After the penalty, Campbell fired a scorching warning shot that just missed Muslera’s far post. Keylor Navas produced an insanely acrobatic save on Forlan as the half wound down. Your friendly bookie managed to type up all of two sentences as the game just wouldn’t let him go.

He managed perhaps a half a sentence during the throbbing second half. Campbell’s laser meant anything was now possible. Three minutes later Duarte’s diving header sent him into convulsions. So many intriguing story lines as Suarez began to warm up. But where would the time to write come from if the chronicler can’t take his eyes off the screen? Urena’s clinical finish, Pereira’s nasty foul, Cavani slotting for a non-existent Suarez…how can one multitask with all this great football?

WM 2014SLOW DOWN? The Europeans typically start slow in global tournaments. It’s incredibly hot and humid in Manaus. Additionally, the pitch is said to be in deplorable condition. Now we’ll apply the brakes and your friendly bookie could get back to getting a jump on the second round lines. Prandelli may be even dumb to start Immobile in place of Balotelli. It was time to wind down.

“Forget it,” said the young phenom and surprise start Raheem Sterling, “you can sleep when you’re dead.”. He set the tone early with an audacious missile that nearly tore through the side netting. The young gun was all over the pitch making things happen. Wellbeck and Rooney seemed more lively than usual too, regularly playing out of position for an unanticipated influx of innovation. Marchisio’s goal off of Pirlo’s dummy was answered in gorgeous fashion by Rooney and Sturridge at the other end. Oh what a brilliant tally it was! The blistering Cut & Run up the left side, the sumptuous arc of the cross, the flawless leaping finish. GOAL OF THE TOURNAMENT!

We were far from done. Balotelli’s square lob and Jagielka’s dramatic header away brought the first half to a close. Mr. “Why Always Me” got his goal shortly after the break, blowing up most of my e-mail boxes with Syndicate Member celebrations from all over the globe. More great chances, intriguing substitutions, and non-stop action kept me glued to the screen until the final whistle.

SLOW DOWN? C’mon now. It’s going on 3 a.m. in Germany! Your friendly bookie can barely remember which teams are playing tomorrow. He can’t keep his book straight. Lines, Member Numbers, and Lineups are all blurring. “Les Elephants” are one of the tournament’s oldest and slowest teams. The Japs don’t have a real “Number 9”. Surely it would be possible to keep one weary eye on the computer screen.

Day Three RecapShinji Okazaki, Kagawa, and Keisuke Honda would allow no such thing. The trio combined for fluid passing and a damn swell finish to tease the upset. Cote d’Ivoire desperately needed to reverse the flow of first-half traffic, which saw the Blue Samurai garner more exciting chances to pump up your bookies adrenaline. Drogba was introduced in the 62nd and my African boys scored two goals in rapid succession. Both came off of Aurier crosses. One for Wilfred Bony in the 64th. One for Gervinho in the 66th. Drogba wasn’t directly involved, but it looked like his mere presence threw off the Jap marking.

WM 2014
Five a.m. in the Fatherland and your friendly bookie’s blood still pumped hard. Sometime after sunrise he passed out on the couch, clutching his “11 Freunde: Sonderheft” like it was the girl of his dreams. What a fucking day, football fans! What a tournament!   


Goodbyes Section

 8th place—Uzbekistan 

Henceforth, the White Wolves may consider themselves welcomed into the Syndicate Fold. Not only did they defy the lowly expectations unjustifiably pinned on them during the Group Stage, they held the mighty Taeguks scoreless for 90 solid minutes. Namisov, Tursunov, Denisov, and Rashidov all played like noble warriors. There may very well be a who-gives-a-fuck-a-k-ov in there somewhere that I forgot to mention. Too bad.

 7th  Place—China PR 

Team Dragon had the misfortune of drawing the hosts. Shitty break. Sun Ke, Wu Lei, and Yu Hai are names that I won’t soon forget. We’ll look forward to seeing them….okay….I confess that it’s pointless. We won’t be seeing them anytime soon. China never qualifies. To paraphrase Walter Chronkite, that’s the way it is.

 6th Place—Iran 

No one missed the Iran v. Iraq game, right? Please tell me you didn’t miss it!




It offends me if you didn’t watch that legendary clash. I’m almost tempted to say that it offends me sexually.

Let’s scrounge up a link.

 5th Place—Japan 

Drawing on some of the better Jewish Psalms, your friendly bookie must adjure directly to God:

“Oy Vey. What happened? Why hast thou forsaken us?”

The poor Samurai just didn’t have it in them after 120 minutes and a penalty round that got off to the worst possible start.

I need to commune with Dominic Crossan now. We’ll talk about False Messianic Hopes for a little while, then go have a beer.


South Korea vs. Iraq

 South Koreavs.  

Setting a line for this one proves more difficult than railroading twenty-two tequila shots, then attempting to convert twenty-two Inverse Cyclometric Trigometric Functions. Your friendly bookie keeps looking for the footballing equivalent of some Leibniz Notation…but it remains beyond the grasp of his weary mind.


For fuck’s sake, simply projecting the twenty-two players on the pitch leaves me with a splitting headache. One expects both teams to roll out 4-2-3-1 Formations. Both teams are surely exhausted after their grueling 120-minute Quarterfinal Contests.

Are the Iraqis pumped full of adrenaline after that Epic “Siege Warfare” Crusade, or are they too enervated to produced the requisite creativity? Do the Taeguks finally have a solution to their lead striker dilemma? Does Shenaishel have an anchoring midfielder in mind after the Justin Meram Flop? Will he let them hang low and give eighteen-year-old Humam Tariq the start?

I don’t have any answers to those legitimate questions, gentlemen. If I knew whether or not Tariq would get the nod, I could potentially forecast an “Upset Special”. In light of the information presently before me, you’ll have to pick your team.

Mirror Formations always present an oddsmaker with problems. In such situations, it occasionally helps to focus on some of the one-on-one matchups. Even that doesn’t help in this instance. Kim Jin-Su vs. Waleed Salem is a push. Ditto Ki Sueng-Yung vs. Saad Abdul-Amir, Ahmed Yasin vs. Song Heung Min and Lee Keun-Ho vs. Alaa Abdul-Zahra. All of the head-to-heads are neutral.

Your friendly bookie just can’t draw it up, gentlemen. You have yourselves a pick. Tune in this evening if you can. This fixture can’t get here soon enough.  

Projected Lineups:

 “The Taeguk Warriors”—(4-2-3-1) 

                  Lee Jung-Hyup
Song Heung-Min       Lee Keun-Ho
                   Nam Tee-Hee
   Ki Sueng-Yung   Park Joo-Ho
K. Jin-Su K. Young-Gwon C. Du-Ri K. Chang-Soo
                   Kim Jin-Hyeon

 “The Lions of Mesopotamia”—(4-2-3-1) 

              Younis Mahmoud
Alaa Abdul-Zahra   Ahmed Yasin
                 Humam Tariq
   Yaser Kasim   Saad Abdul-Amir
D. Ismail S. Shaker A. Ibrahim W. Salem
                   Jalal Hasan

THE LINE: Pick em’

Prop Bets (as always, feel free to offer your own)

Over/Under—3 Goals
120 Minutes—Straight Up
Penalty Shootout—Straight Up


Australia vs. U.A.E.

 Australia vs. 

The Socceroo Lineup projected by your friendly bookie in the Quarterfinal Round was simply ingenious. I’ll stand by it. A true “Trident-Style Attack” featuring Max Kruse on the left, Mathew Leckie on the right and good ol’ Timmy Cahill as the protruding piece of steel is “of the Gods”. It’s too cunning to stop. Bonaparte himself couldn’t have come up with a better strategy. Had the French Midget concocted something even remotely similar, everyone in Russia would be munching on baguettes now.

Ange Postecoglou is even more astute. He’s really playing it close to the vest; much more so than I initially thought. The Aussies played an obtusely sneaky 4-1-4-1 against the Chinks. Kruse and Leckie cleverly pretended as if they weren’t strikers. They were clearly instructed to hang back and act as wingers. Irrespective of whether they’ll be asked to do so again, the Flatlanders should have no problem flattening the severely overtaxed Sheiks here.

Scrap the “Abdulrahman Axis”. Unimpressive.

Cinderella goes home….NOW!!

Projected Lineups:

 “The Socceroos”—(4-3-3) 

Max Kruse  Timmy Cahill    Mathew Leckie
     Matt McKay       Massimo Luongo
                   Mark Milligan
Aziz Behich                      Ivan Franjic
         M. Spiranovic T. Sainsbury
                 Matthew Ryan

 “Zayed’s Sons”—(4-4-2 )

         Ahmed Kali Ali Mabkhout
   O. Abdulrahman A. Abdulrahman
        K. Esmaeel   I. El-Hammadi
Abdelanziz Sanqour  Abdulaziz Hussein
    Mohamed Ahmed  Mohanad Salem
                  Majed Naser

THE LINE: Australia +2 Goals

Prop Bets (as always, feel free to offer your own)

Over/Under—4 Goals
120 Minutes—2 to 1
Penalty Shootout—3 to 1