NETHERLANDS

FIFA Ranking: 4
World Cup Record: 16 – 10 – 10
World Cups: 0

1. Why they can win it

Mesmerising free forward play, attacking options aplenty, strong back line. Robben, Van Persie, Van Der Vaart, Van Bommel, Welsey Sneijder, and Wesley Sneijer’s girlfriend When all is said and done, the Oranje were ranked no.1 as far back as March 1901. Surely they are due to lift the Trophy of Trophies at some point.

2. Why they can’t

They have won the same number of World Cups as Australia, New Zealand and Nauru combined.

3. Intriguing bets*

Total football meets total lack of team chemistry. Paying 9.00 to make the final and not win it. That should be unbackable.

4. Potential heroes or villains

Ex-Chelsea man Arjen Robben’s masseuse. The thigh holds up, the wins accrue. He goes down wincing, thanks for the memories.

5. Crackerjack

The Oranje visit Cape Town for their final game against Cameroon on June 24, some 358 years to the day since Jan van Riebeeck Van established a refreshment station there for the Dutch East India Company. And while their rich colonial history has transformed them into a true melange of cultures (their DNA, almost buffet-like), the poignancy of the moment will not be lost.

The Cape Frontier War meets the Anglo-Boer War in what some locals are calling, ”The Anglo-Cape-Frontier War of the Boerwolf’s, Part II”. Expect the unexpected.

DENMARK

FIFA Ranking: 36
World Cup Record: 7 – 2 – 4
World Cups: 0

1. Why they can win it

N/A

2. Why they can’t

With fans like these who needs enemies.

3. Intriguing bets*

Providing closure to 2008’s fan attack, Soccerro fan in Danish disguise breaks free of security guarding the stands and presents flower to fourth official. Upon revelation of his true identity, Queen Mary rightfully separates from sissy husband and moves back to the Barren Land of Oz. Merivale’s Slip Inn very short priced favourite for Divorce Party of Year, paying 1.25.

4. Potential heroes or villains

Hero: Has to be Nicklas Bendtner. Expect him to torment Arsenal fans with an out of character, clinical display of world class finishing in front of goal.

5. Crackerjack

Unlike Greece’s triumph at Euro 2004, no one seems to remember the Danes lifting the same cup back in 1992. And with good reason. The 8 team tournament (for which they didn’t quality, gaining entry only after Yugoslavia was cruelly kicked out), was most notable for being the first tournament to feature player names on their backs. Yes, 1992 was that long ago.

JAPAN

FIFA Ranking: 45
World Cup Record: 2 – 2 – 6
World Cups: 0

1. Why they can win it

Essentially invented suicide bombing with their use of “kamikaze” attacks in WW2. They are approaching the tournament with a similar “no holds barred in Moscow!” frame of mind. Best wishes.

2. Why they can’t

There’s only so many washed-up Brazilians you can staple a “Nakamura” jersey to before whatever actual Japanese players are left start asking questions.

3. Intriguing bets*

Get on them for a draw, against the odds. Maybe early to Cameroon or late against Denmark. Unbackable favourite to end their run in the meekest of fashion. With “supremest honour”. Of course.

4. Potential heroes or villains

Keisuke Honda, if for no other than reason that its great to read a headline like this and momentarily believe that the Honda motor company is commenting on the ups and downs of the Japanese national football team. The ‘Power of Dreams’. Indeed.

5. Crackerjack

The Japanese have never won a world cup game outside of Japan. Cameroon have never beaten Japan.

CAMEROON

FIFA Ranking: 19
World Cup Record: 4 – 7 – 6
World Cups: 0

1. Why they can win it

Back to back champions league winner Samuel Eto’o running amok or as we at Rogue Couch prefer to call him, Samuel Eto.

2. Why they can’t

Improbable quarterfinal run that put African football on the map was some twenty years ago (Italia 90). Will need to get out of Senegal’s shadow (better flag, hotter women, just nicer people in general) before they can even think of getting out of this group.

3. Intriguing bets*

Samuel Eto to not be as dominant without the stars of Barca or Inter Milan feeding him chances on a plate.

4. Potential heroes or villains

Africa’s most successful footballing nation is sure to surprise in one way or another. The verdict is in, and the vulture brain-smoking tipsters say Sebastien Bassong (Tottenham Hotspur) makes a name for himself in some way shape or form.

5. Crackerjack

Just so much to choose from here: The fact they celebrate two independence days… 1960 from the French and, somewhat confusingly, October 1961 from English; that Italia 90 legend Roger Milla kidnapped 150 jungle pygmies in his bid to set up a charity football tournament; that they’ve won just one out of their last ten world cup games; or that more than 30% of the total population in the country live at less that $1.25 a day. How about we settle on this: world’s most awkward ending to a football commercial:

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