Paul the Octopus has got nothing on FFT
Mollusc reanimation, bone-crushing mascots and Marouane Fellaini annihilating VAR with a colossal headbutt – FFT predicts the summer chaos to come
ENGLISH HOOLIGANS DECIDE NOT TO BOTHER WITH THIS ONE
In the distorted minds of chair-lobbing hordes who have comprised England’s travelling charm offensive over the past five decades, it’s a laugh to pop over to France or similar, where you can befoul civilised, cobbled streets, yell stuff about the Frogs and chuck some Kronenbourg around without too much resistance. But do they fancy the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on a Tuesday night – up against frothing Russian ultras who train in the woods by grappling brown bears, have muscles on top of their muscles and are armed to the teeth with scythes? Nah, thought not.
EVERYONE IN ICELAND GETS BURGLED
Fifteen per cent of Iceland’s population are in the Strakarnir okkar squad, and a further 80 per cent are their brothers, sisters, ssons and dottirs, who will be in the crowd looking like White Walkers from Game of Thrones and performing the big scary clapping thing. Which only means one thing: Heimir Hallgrimsson’s house is getting turned over by the five clever criminals left behind…
“HE’S LATCHED ONTO HIS OWN CROSS!”
It’s received wisdom that Maradona’s insane solo goal against England will never be topped, but the personnel are in place in 2018 for a new goal of the century. Put your money on Leo Messi replicating Diego’s strike – but running backwards; CR7 crossing the ball in for himself and scoring with a roundhouse; and Mo Salah zig-zagging in a manner so bewitching that it immediately establishes peace in the Middle East.
The 2010 tournament in South Africa was a dream for marketers, TV chiefs and chortling commentators – behold Mandela’s mighty vuvuzela! Brazil 2014 was even easier – crack out the carnival footage! Let’s go to a favela! But how in the name of Dostoevsky are they meant to make Russia work? We’re not seeing Gary Lineker in a Red Army hat, Pussy Riot-themed foam hands or jokes about the gulags from Clive Tyldesley. Perhaps Vladimir Putin will choose to amp up all of the strongman bravado and execute a few business rivals during the opening ceremony, with official mascot Zabivaka force-feeding them polonium and then crushing their bones? Or maybe we’re just going to have to hold our noses and concentrate on the football?
GERMAN SUPERSTITION TSUNAMI
Footballers are often terribly irrational, with their lucky pants and pre-game rituals – but Germany’s are surely the barmiest, from Mario Gomez’s refusal to sing the anthem (he claims it stops him scoring goals), to Jogi Löw’s blue V-neck jumper beliefs. Expect them to somehow pull off a Jurassic Park-style DNA reanimation of Paul the Octopus, forced to forecast consecutive World Cup glory for his overlords.
Our political and royal leaders all want a bit of World Cup feelgood fever this month. So, eyes peeled for cringeworthy photo ops of Prince Harry getting Gareth Southgate in a headlock and Theresa May trying to juggle a Telstar 18 in her kitten heels – and, of course, a rogue’s gallery of political leaders sitting next to big bad Vlad as he plots to seize the England Band’s trombones.
Oh, how we needed the assistance of video referees after Harald Schumacher decapitated Patrick Battiston, after the Hand of God, after Lampard’s wallop in 2010 clearly crossed the German line. But now it’s here, are you happy? Eh? The machines are almost certain to ruin a game at some point, and who will blame football’s leading nutters if they decide to turn Luddite? Fellaini nutting a monitor, Luis Suarez gnashing a cable and Casemiro tearing VAR a new USB input – you know it’s going to happen.