World Cup 2018 kicks off Thursday, June 14th in Moscow amidst swirling questions: is Salah's shoulder sensitive? Will Messi mesmerize? Will Löw publicly pick his nose? While football pundits ponder possible permutations, we'll doubtlessly drink along. Hm, now there's a thought...
What if winning the World Cup required alcohol consumption over durchdringendes dribbling? I'm glad you asked. We crunched the numbers for per capita alcohol consumption for the 32 participating countries and ran the brackets.
More entertaining than the real thing? Here's the play-by-play. You judge:
First Round (pun intended):
Host Russia cruises. Uruguay reaches round two, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt lose out as the Cup's lowest drinkers: 1 gin & tonic every other month. That won't relieve shoulder stiffness, Mo.
No surprises here: Portugal tips Iberian rival Spain to win the group. Iran and Morocco leave (very) thirsty.
GROUP C - The Group Of Death!
Wild action! France edges Australia on alcohol % differential, i.e., France's insatiable wine consumption at 13.5% vs. Oz's strong beer showing but only 6% alcohol by volume. Denmark -- ranked an impressive global #26 -- will feel cheated. Peru's piscos go sour.
Some surprise upsets as Croatia takes the group with Nigeria seen through. Messi's Argentina (#46) drowns misery with Malbec as Mendoza moans. Euro 2016 darlings Iceland chill off.
Serbia surprisingly storms the group with Switzerland following to the Round of 16 (merci, Romandie)! Brazil's national cocktail becomes the cry-pirinha and minnow Costa Rica sobs along.
Kim-derella story South Korea trumps Group F with disarming charm as the peninsula explodes in excitement. Defending champs Germany finish a surprising second with Sweden and Mexico as also-rans; brännvin and tequila sales skyrocket.
England finally look better than Spice Girls and take the group; a good showing too by Belgium. Sorry Panama and Tunisia, we understand it's just too hot to quaff properly.
Poland pulls together to dominate the group; Japan comes through (kanpai!) with Colombia and Senegal sent home.
Round of 16 (who's buying?) to Semi-Finals:
Some home-brewed referee decisions see host Russia sending Spain on the rough return ride to Rioja. The French handle Nigeria with an aroma of sophistication but finally can't stop Russia's clear-spirited momentum... Russia advances headily to the semi-finals.
Upstart Serbia deliver a shock! Going toe-to-toe with defending champ Germany on wine and beer consumption but narrowly tipping the tables on penalties: the match hero is unheralded Rakia, i.e., local plum and apricot brandy. Tough luck Deutschland, next time make that Schnaps a Doppelschuss! England dispatch Japan but amazingly fall to Serbia over beer consumption... Serbia advances with Balkan bullishness!
No surprise as Portugal -- small country, big wine appetite -- passes Uruguay. BEST MATCHUP of the World Cup sees Australia (#19) squeak past Croatia (#20), nearly dead even on beer, wine, spirits and total consumption. Cheers to both! Portugal's world class wine thirst sends them past the Socceroos to the semis.
Tournament surprise is South Korea whose over 1,000 varieties of local fermented rice beverages squash the Swiss. Poland advance past respectable Belgium for an East vs. West agricultural showdown: and though Korea's rice tries every trick -- sweet, sour, pungent, roasted, bitter and spicy -- Poland's impressive aggressiveness downing anything distilled from wheat wins the day... Poland advances.
Fistful of Finals:
Serbia (#12) tries mightily but their strength in beer is washed away by Russia's vodka vivacity. Poland (#14) falls short as Portugal's (#11) warm-climate grapes outclass cold continental cereals in an epic match. In the end, Russia (#4) emerge triumphant as the first side to win at home since France '98.
Thanks for playing, and what can we say about World Cup 2018, except Твоё здоровье (wait, we can't say that either)!
And if you're thirsty for a summer celebration... join our fantasy food & wine matchup: