In the 1970s, the Netherlands was suddenly the only team that mattered. They created a style that departed from mainstream soccer in Total Football and changed the game. They were the greatest of their time and still produce many of the world's best players and the best football. If you aren't a soccer fan, watch them play and you'll be converted. They're the neurotic geniuses who changed the game forever, importing their style to the world. Despite all of their genius, they have only one Championship trophy with their name on it; the 1988 European Cup. How is it possible that they have never won the World Cup? It's all in their heads. They reached the final match in both 1974 and 1978, at their peak. They dominated the final against Germany in 1974 but lost the mind games. In Neurotic Orange, the author explains that after scoring the first goal, Netherlands wanted to embarass West Germany by passing the ball around and dominating possession. It became a game of skill instead of a game of goals. When West Germany, tied up the game, the Netherlands could not mentally recover.
Radiohead departed from mainstream rock and roll with OK Computer. The Bends was the next step in the evolution of grunge, but OK Computer was something totally new. They changed everything. OK Computer is described as "a spooky, atmospheric, intense and paranoid rumination on modern life—the kind of thing that would be insufferable if it didn't float along on a procession of gorgeous melodies" by Time magazine. When Radiohead went out to promote the album, critics raved and the fans loved it, but the band nearly fell apart in the process. Thom Yorke was nearly undone by that voice inside his head. Like the Netherlands losing to West Germany at their peak, Radiohead lost out to Bob Dylan for Album of the Year in 1998. Despite all that, they remain a force in music.
To football purists, the Netherlands always ranks as a favorite to watch. In this group, like Radiohead in music, they're the only team the matters.
The debut of Total Football:
Cameroon: The Killers
In 1990, only their second World Cup appearance, Cameroon became the first African Team to reach the Quarterfinals of the World Cup. Since then, Cameroon has only missed one World Cup and looks pretty much the same from year to year. Like Cameroon, The Killers debut was fantastic. Since then, they've given us bunch of albums that sound the same and are basically forgettable. Sam's Town was over after the first round and Day & Age is best known for the song Human. We all want The Killers sound from the debut album but they either don't want to go back to that sound or can't find it. Everyone wants one of the African Nations to go deep into the knock-out rounds of this tournament. Cameroon has a lot of talent and everyone will be rooting for them but we're just not sure that they can get back to their best.
Denmark: Boyz II Men
Why is Denmark the "Boyz II Men" of the World Cup? Because both peaked in 1992 and then disappeared after that. Despite the fact that both are still hanging around, no one takes them very seriously. Denmark played it's first international friendly back in 1906 but didn't qualify for the World Cup until 1986. They quickly peaked in 1992, when they won the European Championship and have kind of hung around ever since. They aren't the same team that they were in the 90s but have enough history and talent to potentially make some noise. We won't be too surprised if they make it to the second round due to their relatively easy group, but can't see them going anywhere after that.
Japan: Spice Girls
Trendy and below average, Japan and the Spice Girls have quite a bit in common. Both love David Beckham. Both showed up in the 1990s, Japan in 1998 and the Spice Girls in 1994. Nothing powerful is going to come from Japan's football team but they'll have a few fun moments this tournament. Japan's version of David Beckham is Shunsuke Nakamura, who played in Scotland for Celtic and was known for his set piece prowess. In the end, Japan is a pop team like the Spice Girls are a pop group.