World Cup Mad

I’ve been aflutter with excitement for the past several months and now that the FIFA World Cup is almost here, I’ve been immersing myself in research materials in order to win several pools. In the spirit of the current World Cup’s slogan “A Time to Make Friends,” I’m issuing an invitation to join one or all of the following free competitions.

  1. ESPN World Cup Pick’em — In this one, you just pick the winners of each game, and see how your picks match up with mine.
  2. Fantasy Premier League International — In this one, you pick a team of players who play in the English Premier League who are also playing for their countries. Points are awarded for goals, wins, and other things. You can make transfers as well. This one requires a bit more knowledge, but if you do join up, you can join my private league, by searching on the League page for “James Will Win Again” and entering this code: 118660-22710.
  3. McDonald’s/FIFA World Cup Fantasy — Because I’m not obsessed enough to be in two of these things, here’s the official one. Similar to the EPL one, you pick a team of players and can change your roster daily depending on which teams are playing. My group is called “Another Way To Beat James” (Group #22863) and the password is “liverpool”

For entertainment purposes only, I assure you.

If you need to brush up on your footie knowledge, I can recommend two great books. The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup has chapters on each of the 32 qualified countries, and though it won’t really help you pick the winner, it will give you some background on each of the countries and their football cultures. Contributors include Nick Hornby and Dave Eggers. The Match of the Day Guide to the 2006 World Cup is filled with stats and colour photos and even makes some predictions. Expert commentary from Tottenham Hotspur manager Martin Jol should help, too.

For instant gratification, check out the World Cup Blog. And keep your eye on Runner-Up for some interesting tidbits during the tournament.

P.S. If you want to know just how obsessed I’ve become, I’ve even been eyeing the Panini World Cup sticker album. Only 596 stickers to collect!