sport

Your country's not in the World Cup. So root for these guys

By Steve Almasy

Published June 13, 2018

For the next month, the world will be glued to the biggest sporting event on the globe: the World Cup. Thirty two countries qualified, but alas, yours isn't among them (this means you, US and Italy).

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Here's a handy guide on which teams to root for, if you're not pledging allegiance to a team already.

If you find soccer slow ...

Keep an eye on France, with lightning-fast winger Kylian Mbappe. The young lions from England aren't slowpokes, either.

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If you're a sucker for an underdog ...

Go with Senegal. Liverpool forward Sadio Mane could emerge as a World Cup star. Also, the country has only been to the finals once.

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If you believe there's an 'I' in team ...

Budding legend and prolific scorer Mo Salah of Egypt, often likened to LeBron James, is probably going to be your guy.

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If you base your picks on who looks sharp

… well, dang, Brazil looks good in yellow. And Croatia's got that awesome red and white chessboard on their chests.

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But for something completely different, Nigeria's best-selling home jersey is compelling, but looks a little like there was an explosion at the lime green highlighter factory.

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If you like a really badass nickname ...

You can't get much better than the Lions of Persia, the unofficial nickname for Iran. Nigeria's Super Eagles and the Eagles of Carthage (Tunisia) have pretty boss names, too.

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If you're about real fandom

… look no further than Iceland. More than one in 10 Icelandic citizens went to the European finals in 2016.

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If you just want to spout fun facts

… then you can bang with Belgium, a country that:

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  • has played in 12 World Cups and never won

  • has a cool nickname (the Red Devils) with cool jerseys (vivid red with argyle)

  • Captain Vincent Kompany just got an MBA

  • Awesome Belgium scorer Romelu Lukaku was one of the most expensive players ever on the club team transfer market.

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  • … and Belgium has one of the best players in the world. His name is Hazard -- Eden Hazard.

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If you want to see the most creative dives ...

You'll just have to watch. Most teams have a player (or two or three) who'll flop and preen and play-act like babies with the hope of getting a little help from the referee.

If you only want to support a team that is #Winning ...

You should definitely look toward Die Mannschaft (Germany), which is ranked No. 1 and scored a huge number of goals while qualifying for this tournament.

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