With domestic leagues having played their last fixtures this past weekend, the first ever winter World cup is upon us. As I’m sure you are aware, it is being played in the nation of Qatar after some
rampant bribery very skilled negotiating on their behalf. This is the last World Cup to feature 32 teams, as the format changes to include 48 teams in 2026, and because gambling is fun (plus us not being able to be in Qatar for the tournament) we decided to do a World Cup picks pool amongst our staff.
Picking the winning country gets 32 points, the runner up gets 16 points, 3rd place gets 12 points, 4th place gets 8 points, quarterfinalists get 4 points, and Round of 16 gets 2 points.
We will provide updates to the standings as each round ends, our dearest hope is that somehow the 3rd place game (which is normally meaningless) ends up deciding our picks pool.
Pick 1 – Uncle Tony P. – Brazil
With the first pick, I select Brazil. They have a guy named Fred and on name alone, he sounds like he should be playing for a beer league team in Waukeshau, Wisconsin. Basically, Brazil is good at soccer and I expect the power of Fred to propel them to victory.
Pick 2 – Louis de Ludivico – France
Mind aflutter, I open my big book of Beastie Boys lyrics and see:
Like a bottle of Châteauneuf-Du-Pape
I’m fine like wine when I start to rap.
Ah, yes. The 14th century Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy which resulted in beautiful art, architecture, and wine.
France is good at beauty. I select France.
Pick 3 – H.E. Pennybacker – Argentina
In a sense, the history of the World Cup is better defined by the talismanic players and teams who didn’t win the title than those that did. Ferenc Puskás and Hungary never won. Nor did Johan Cruyff’s Dutch teams. Nor did the Brazilian squads of Sócrates. But 2022 will not be one of those years where the defining player of a generation comes up empty on the sports greatest stage. That’s right, this is the year where Nicolas Tagliafico finally gets to raise the Cup. I’m picking Argentina.
Pick 4 – Charles Peacock – Germany
It is said that soccer is a simple game, 22 men run around chasing a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, Germany wins. They’re the obvious pick here.
Pick 5 – Travis McTravelface – Spain
I love to go around the world in pursuit of finding the next great young football players. When one team (at both the club and national level) has Pedri, Gavi, and Ansu Fati, it’s time for a new golden generation in Spain.
Pick 6 – Andrea Provolone – Denmark
Denmark is flat AF, just like a soccer pitch. I bet a lifetime of walking on that flatness gives their players an advantage or something. Where they don’t have an advantage? Coastal areas. I’m gonna feel really bad when the sea level rises, Parken stadium floods and all of their soccer players have to switch to water polo (moving inland is for quitters). I choose to savor their last moments as a soccer team. Denmark is my no.1.
Pick 7 – Alistair Denis – Holland
Windmills. Wooden Shoes. Gouda. Superfluous letters. Dudes named van something.
These are all quintessentially awesome Dutch things. Sure the team is in a down cycle and have little to no real hope outside of being in a cake walk group, however….
I’m picking Holland for two reasons:
1) They have the Queen of Austin FC
2) The Hup Holland Hamsters , the greatest World Cup mascot of all time
Picks 8/9 – Turd Verdeson
Roberto Martinez may have squandered the best years of Belgium’s so-called Golden Generation, but a lot of the key pieces are still in good form. Add in a sprinkling of young stars, and les Diables Rouges may be poised to finally complete the task. I choose Belgium.
Boasting a list of playing resumes that any World Cup manager would envy, and a mature 26.8 average age, Senegal could be poised to be the first African team in the last four at a World Cup Finals tournament. These Lions will look to take at least a point from the Dutch and send hosts Qatar home early. I choose Senegal.
Pick 10 – Alistair Dennis – Switzerland
Fine chocolate, amiable banking regulations, and Xheridan Shaqiri’s muscle to height ratio are but a few of the amazing exports from my next selection. With a spine including such traditional Swiss names as Akanji, Xhaka, and Embolo this team is rooted in a stern alpine tradition of defense and marksmanship.
As 25 Star General Major Webelos Zapp Branigan once put it, “The problem with neutrals is you never know where they stand.” Well this selection will be standing atop the podium collecting the most coveted trophy in sports.
That’s right, I feel like William Tell, it’s Switzerland!
Pick 11 – Andrea Provolone – England
Lizzie’s in a box. Chuck is next. With that kind of weight off one’s shoulders, I choose England. (Return the stolen artifacts!!)
Pick 12 – Travis McTravelface – Uruguay
I’m a sucker for a great promotional video, and our friends in Uruguay produced the best squad announcement video of this World Cup cycle. For that, they get my second pick.
Pick 13 – Charles Peacock – Portugal
Since 2008, the top scorer of the UEFA Championship’s team won the WC the following cycle, in 2020 it was Ronaldo, Portugal is taking this.
Pick 14 – H.E. Pennybacker – Croatia
Their squad is old as shit and the vibes are very far from immaculate, but sometimes talent wins out. The 2018 runners up are going on a vengeance tour before their stars all retire to
The Saudi Pro League a nice farm upstate. With my second pick, I’m taking Croatia.
Pick 15 – Louis de Ludivico – Cameroon
If they’re good enough for Eto’o to pick, Cameroon are good enough for me.
Picks 16 and 17 – Uncle Tony P. – USA and Mexico
Let’s get CONCACAFFY!!!!
Pick 18 – Louis de Ludivico – Wales
Gareth Bale hasn’t been relegated to a bench player in LA. He’s been given time to draw up devious plans to defeat every squad in this tournament. Plus, their flag is badass. I’m going with Wales.
Pick 19 – H.E. Pennybacker – Ecuador
They’re in a group that lacks a Pot 1 juggernaut, they handled the gauntlet of CONMEBOL qualifying with aplomb, they’re playing without many expectations, and they’re young enough to not realize when they’re in over their heads. With my third pick, I’m taking Ecuador.
Pick 20 – Charles Peacock – Poland
In any tournament a hot striker can cause a team to go on an unforeseen run. Not only is Robert Lewandovski a great goal scorer on the pitch, but he has great hair and dimples. The Pick: Poland
Pick 21 – Travis McTravelface – Serbia
Speaking of hot strikers and young talent (I’m probably a bad judge and defer to @AustinHBMFC but he probably qualifies), Dusan Vlahovic is another player who has the potential to go from national star to a global star in this tournament. With Dusan Tadic feeding him crosses, Serbia could surprise in Group G just like they did in qualification when they beat Portugal to win Group A.
Pick 22 – Andrea Provolone – Australia
I have said it for about a decade now: kangaroos in central Texas would be dope. We have a very similar environment they would thrive in, quickly reproducing and filling our greenbelts with their short tempers. Just imagine some Californian who moves here, buys a $250,000 house for $2.4mil, goes for their first jog on a local trail and then gets knocked TF out by a kangaroo. EAT SHIT, RANDY.
For that hopeful daydream alone, I pick the Socceroos from Australia.
Pick 23 – Alistair Dennis – Ghana
With a name like The Black Stars how can you not take Ghana in a largely toss up group?
After years of terrorizing the USA in the World Cup and that billionaire guy trying to buy Sam Obisanya away from Richmond, it might be easy to paint Ghana as villains, however they have a new look team that’s eager to impress (ignore that they’re still carrying one of the Ayew brothers, who at this point must be drawing pension benefits).
They’re Ghana go all the way!
Picks 24/25 – Turd Verdeson – Canada and Qatar
They may be making only their second-ever World Cup appearance—and the first since 1986—but our northern neighbors didn’t top The CONCACAF Ocho™ by fluke. Even if Alphonso Davies’s injuries prevent him going the full 90, these Canucks can still kick ass and “SOARee” their way right into the knockout rounds. I choose Canada.
The host nation always gets a supernatural boost,
even especially when nobody expects anything from them. Qatar is my final pick.
Pick 26 – Alistair Dennis – South Korea
Since one of the charges levied against the False Nine Qatar office related to starting a K-Pop band without auto tune, I’m now free to reveal that, in keeping with one of the themes of this World Cup and one of FIFA’s core principals, I was bribed by certain parties to put that group together.
Regardless, I see a plucky squad that can take the Squid Game of Group H by surprise. South Korea are my pick.
Pick 27.- Andrea Provolone – Costa Rica
I’m tired now. Costa Rica.
Pick 28 – Travis McTravelface – Iran
Since I already picked Uruguay in this pool, it’s only fitting that I should pick Iran with my final pick, who beat them in a September friendly. This Iranian team will come out motivated to play and Mehdi Taremi has been tearing it up in the Champions League for Porto. As an American, a repeat of 1998 would be painful, but it would likely help me win this competition
Pick 29 – Charles Peacock – Japan
I’ve only watched Japan play once, but they looked positively stacked against a US team that is supposedly a golden generation, so that must make them Platinum, right?
Pick 30 – H.E. Pennybacker – Morocco
Morocco has at least three players that I recognize by name and at least one player (Hakim Ziyech) whom I actually knew was Moroccan before we started this exercise. That’s more than I can say for the remaining flotsam in this draft. So up the (checks notes) Atlas Lions, who are my fourth and final pick.
Pick 31 – Louis de Ludivio – Tunisisa
Carthage. The home of the tragic queen, Dido. Home of my heart. Tunisia.
Pick 32 – Uncle Tony P. – Saudi Arabia
Looks like I’m left with Saudi Arabia, that plucky underdog country next to this year’s host country. Surely nothing about this can go wrong.
Uncle Tony P. – Brazil, USA, Mexico, Saudi Arabia
Louis de Ludivico – France, Cameroon, Wales, Tunisia
H.E. Pennybacker – Argentina, Croatia, Ecuador, Morocco
Charles Peacock – Germany, Portugal, Poland, Japan
Travis McTravelface – Spain, Uruguay, Serbia, Iran
Andrea Provolone – Denmark, England, Australia, Costa Rica
Alistair Dennis – Holland, Switzerland, Ghana, South Korea
Turd Verdeson – Belgium, Senegal, Canada, Qatar