Die gruppe des todes!
Frenchmen! In shorts! A terrifying prospect, I'm sure you will agree. With his onion breath and wandering hands, Jean-Pierre Frenchman is a fearsome foe. Boasting a galaxy of stars such as Thierry Henry, Franck Ribery and Lilian Thuram, the gallic masters would be among the favourites to claim the title, were it not for the Group Of DEATH! factor. It is far from overstating the case to suggest that the three best teams in the competition are to be found in group C. Add to this the fact that England will not be in attendance and only then can one fully comprehend the folly in allowing not one, but two, nations of mountain-dwelling, feather-hat wearing, Nazi-collaborating, cake-for-breakfast munching nations of footballing dunderheads to host the tournament.
Five Famous Belgians
Serge Gainsbourg - frog-faced, pint-sized pervert of pop. Despite having the appearance of something that should be sporting among the lilypads, mateyboy managed to "collaborate" (schtupp) many of the world's most beautiful and desirable women throughout the sixties and seventies, all the while getting them to sing his innuendo-laden pop ditties about oral sex, incest, puppy-squeezing and hitting it from behind. He was quite a guy!
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - another sawn-off porvort. A nineteenth century artist cove, Mother Nature had not smiled on our Henri. The top half of his body was normal-sized, his legs were teeny-tiny and apparently he had a huge schlong. Actually, put like that, it doesn't sound too bad a deal. Anyhoo, the Wee Man, as Ally McCoist would no doubt have referred to him, spent most of his working life painting the portraits of prossies in Montmartre, then getting drunk and shagging them of a night time.
Napoleon Bonaparte - another great Frenchman who was diminuitive in stature. As one of the last people to find out that it was raining, Bonaparte made up his short-arsedness by ruthlessly acquiring power, eventually winding up as Emperor of France. Much like England's Steve McClaren, a disastrous campaign in Russia sowed the seeds of his destruction. However, it is unlikely that the Battle of Borodino took place on a plastic pitch, soaked to saturation point by a frankly crooked groundsman.
Antoine de Caunes - suave, leering television presenter. Hosted Channel 4's flagship european cultural show "Eurotrash" on British TV. This most important of late 20th century programmes was instrumental in giving British audiences exposure to the brightest and best in continental arts and media. Especially that blonde lass who died because her tits were so big.
Pepe le Pew - fictional animated amorous skunk. A frustrated lover, his unfortunate aroma constantly thwarted his attempted romantic liaisons, which for some reason were usually with black cats who'd had an imbroglio with some white paint. Some critics would have it that this american cartoon unfairly depicted the french, all of them, as malodorous, incorrigible sex pests. A completely untrue national stereotype which our comprehensive sample here has shown to be utterly without foundation.
Battiston getting his head taken off, Platini doing the biz in '84, Deschamps getting the cup in 1998, Zidane howking his guts up before beating England from the spot, Zizou sticking the nut on Materazzi.
The World Champions will be looking forward to playing France again, having faced them in the final in Germany 2006, they were drawn against them in qualifying for this tournament, before meeting up again in the tournament proper. Italy have been rocked by the last-minute injury of inspirational defender Fabio Cannavaro, but will probably kick and scrape their way through to the final like they normally do.
Five Famous Belgians
Benito Mussolini - baldy-heided fascist Italian premier and one of the leaders of the World War II Axis Powers, where he was known as The Shit One. As if being a fascist wasn't bad enough, he was also a known railway enthusiast. Fittingly, he was executed outside a petrol station. Watch your back, Gordon Browns!
Leonardo da Vinci - quite simply, an absolute genius. As an artist, he painted the most famous picture, like, ever: La Gioconda (or The Mona Lisa as you plebs probably call it). In addition to his painting, he was also a scientist, engineer, sculptor, mathematician and anatomist. He must have been beating the ladies off with a shitty stick, yes? Well no, actually. He was in fact a gay man. Conclusive proof therefore, that all gays are better and cleverer than straight people. A bit of a turn up for the books, eh? Still, you live and you learn, what?
Michelangelo - another renaissance man, a contemporary and rival to da Vinci. His most famous works include the statue "David", who is clearly no Toulouse-Lautrec when it comes to filling a pair of Y-fronts, if you catch my drift, and the painting job he did on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A bit overly-ornate, if you ask me, what's wrong with a simple white emulsion, eh? Another gay, of course. Not for him the distractions of going down the hippodrome to watch the Polish Dance, he was too busy getting some fit young twink to sit for him while he got that sculpture just right. Fair play to him.
Gino Ginelli - another creative genius was 1980s fictional ice cream designer Gino Ginelli. His groundbreaking, delicious flavours included Mint Chocky-Cheep, Toffee-Foodgee and Tutti Frutti What a Cutie. Marvellous stuff and a bit of Peter Kay style nostalgia-as-comedy-replacement for the slackjaws among you. Italian verve indeed!
Michael Corleone - fictional war hero turned gangland overlord. Took over the family bidness after concluding a meeting with trade rival Sillozzo by placing a bullet through his skull, then offing his bent pig mate. His wife was a bit of a pain in the arse, mind.
Kicking lumps out the Koreans in 1966, getting a shoe-ing off of Brazil in 1970, Paolo Rossi's hat-trick and Tardelli's mad face in 1982, Baggio's poor penalty in 1994, Materazzi discussing Zidane's family in 2006.
Pornography, prostitution, drugs, pint after golden pint of beautiful lager. That's the type of thing that a down-market, gutter weblog may witter on about when mentioning the Netherlands, but not this clean-living bachelor boy. Oh no. Moving on to the Dutch football team, Marco van Basten seems to have forged a decent enough team spirit among what is traditionally the bitchiest collection of back-biting, preening, self-regarding egomaniacs outside the cast of "Sex in the City", eh ladies? PS I know it's "Sex and the City". The loss of Ryan Babel may prove a loss to the Hollandaise, but there are still bags of goals in their side and if Arjen Robben can re-discover his best form they could potentially do very well.
Five Famous Belgians
Vincent Van Gogh - prominent 19th century artist who love colour and who let it show. His artistic prowess was all the more remarkable given the fact that he was blind, having cut off one of his eyes one night while hepped up on absinthe following a tiff with his lass.
MC Miker G and DJ Sven - genius 1980s songwriting and performing duo who shot to fame with their seminal hip hop pop classic "Holiday Rap" wherein they informed us of their impending travel plans, stating their intent to "ring-rang-a-dong for a holiday". Forget your MC Hammers and your Vanilla Icecubes, this is the true voice of the ghetto.
William III of England - not actually English. A dutch fellow, formerly known as Prince of Orange, he won the English, Scottish and Irish crowns and is surprisingly popular with certain elements in the latter two countries, where coves dressed as Be-Ro men wear orange sashes in his honour and parade past Catholic people, playing flute music. Unorthodox.
Raymond van Barneveld - the greatest ever sportsman to come from the Netherlands. A world champion darts player in both of the beautiful game's competing tournaments, "Barney" as his army of adoring fans know him, has been the only player to consistently challenge the unrivalled dominance of the world's number one, Phil "the Power" Taylor, an Englishman.
Van der Valk - tousle-haired fictional TV detective. The series of the same name is fondly remembered for its stirring, evocative theme tune. After which, most people turned off after about ten minutes because it was so bliddy boring.
Johann Cruyff, turns akimbo, litter on the pitch in Argentina '78, Van Basten thumping that volley in Euro '88, Koeman dinking it past Seaman, Shearer, Gazza, Sheringham et al showing them how to play in '96, various penalty shootout disasters, a training ground bust-up.
Gypsies, vampires, orphans. That's Romania. Despite being widely written off as makeweights in the Gruppo del Morte, it is worth remembering that Romania topped their qualifying group ahead of the Netherlands. Although, it would be understandable were one not to remember that. I just found it out by cribbing from the BBC's guide to Euro 2008. Fuck it, they aren't going to qualify, are they?
Five Famous Belgians
Count Dracula - vampire. Fictional, but where there's smoke, there's fire, no? Unless you count dry ice machines. Which were invented after the smoke/fire cliche was coined. Anyhoo, this Count Dracula, who did exist, used to spend his evenings sucking on the neck of young women, dressed mainly in black, didn't like sunshine and stayed indoors all day. Possibly a fore-runner of today's "Emo" kids, right Daily Mail readers?
Nicolae Ceauşescu - former Communist leader of the country and all-round bad egg. Executed by a firing squad following a popular revolt as communism was collapsing all over Eastern Europe. George Bush (the first one) liked him though, so there you are.
Elena Ceauşescu - wife of Nicolae and even more of a knacker than him. Lived in a palace and owned over 20,000 pairs of shoes and got her husband to give her a phoney-baloney government job, which she did badly. Supposedly cheated in her exams and faked her qualifications, like a communist harridan version of Jeffrey Archer. Not a big hit with John Q. Average-Romanian.
Nadia Comăneci - teenage gymnast of the 1970s and 80s. As Everybody knows, the so-called sport of gymnastics is actually a front for paedophiles to get together and exchange pictures and films while peering intently at some waiflike 12 year old lassie doing the splits in a see-through leotard. That said, our Nadia was ruddy marvellous in this most noble of sports, achieving the first perfect 10 score ever recorded during the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
Ilie Nastase - archetypal 70s tennis professional. Won 88 tennis titles but is probably better known for his claim that he had shagged over 2,500 women. This claim was made in his 2005 autobiography "Ilie Nastase: I've shagged over 2,500 women, me. No hoonds, either."
Gheorghe Hagi pinging them in at USA '94, Phil Neville dropping a bollock in Euro
2000, some bats.
Johnny Two-Feathers' Verdict
Um group of death. Heap bad medicine. Bad medicine is what I need. Spent last night on fire-water, got um splitting headache like um scalped paleface. Not really arsed about football. Will plump for Italy and France. Fuck King Billy. Ooh, um bastern heed is nipping. Do you have um Resolve, paleface?