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World Cup 2014: A spoofer’s guide to … Croatia

by Aidan Elder | June 5, 2014

Fun Fact…

The Dalmatian breed of dog, subject of such factually named movies as 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians, is from Croatia. It was used locally as a guard dog for protecting the towns and borders of Dalmatia, the southern region of Croatia. Armed with that information, you’ve got to at least question Cruella de Vil’s tactics in chasing around London after those dogs, risking the wrath of law enforcement when she could have just gone to Croatia and picked up as many as she wanted for her fur coat.

Wikipedia ‘Fact’…

The Croatians invented the necktie. It comes from the late 17th Century when soldiers decided that while they liked jumping around to the sounds of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, it just looked a bit silly without having a tie wrapped around your head. It was only decades later when they realised the item of clothing could be wrapped around the neck and used to convince women that you are posher (and perhaps richer) than you really are and judges that you aren’t the type of person who regularly gets naked in front of a bus full of nuns.

National Hero…

Hmmm … it’s a toughie. Nikola Tesla did invent the Alternating Current, which revolutionised electricity production and distribution, the radio (screw you, Marconi), the remote control and lasers. On the other, he doesn’t look as good in a bikini as ‘Croatia’s first supermodel’ (?) Monika Jakisic and probably never shagged George Clooney – what sort of unfulfilled existence did Tesla live at all??? Of course we’re being facetious. While he was a truly gifted man, many of Tesla’s inventions since have been the subject of an ethical debate. For example, while the laser is used in plenty of worthwhile ways, it can also be used to cause harm. Likewise, although the radio has brought information and entertainment to millions, it also gave Johnny Vaughan work for years.

Football Pedigree…

Since the collapse of Yugoslavia and all that nastiness, Croatia have been the Balkans nation to enjoy most success thus far. In their first World Cup as an independent nation, they managed to finish third in 1998 and on the back of that, climbed up to third in FIFA World Rankings Of Dubious Worth. Since then, they’ve had two group stage exits and didn’t qualify for South Africa. And they didn’t get out of their group at Euro 2012, which means they progressed precisely as far as Ireland. On the plus side however, they’re clearly not Ireland and triumphed over Giovanni Trapattoni’s brand of bus parking in their first match of that tournament. They go into this tournament with a talented squad with Gail from Coronation Street pulling the strings in midfield and a strong supporting cast around the pitch. That’s cause for optimism, but the fact they lost to Scotland last October probably isn’t.

Acceptable National Stereotype…

Progressive eastern Europeans who have already contributed a lot to civilisation and will continue to do so as their confidence as an independent nation increases

Unacceptable National Stereotype…

Angry former Yugoslavs who will fight you if they want

Don’t be surprised if they…

Get mentioned a lot as a potential dark horse, play brilliantly for one half of one match but end on the beaches of Dalmatia by the end of June.

Odds to win World Cup 2014: 150/1

To bet on Croatia, or not and just look at all the World Cup odds, cravat gander over here:
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