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Watching the final three stages of the World Cup in Russia without having either your own team involved or a personal bias towards one of the other nations can be a bit of a letdown. Much akin to someone who doesn’t have a bet on the Melbourne Cup, or a crack at two-up on Anzac Day. 

Therefore, with the Socceroos well and truly packed up and shipped off, the time is nigh to hitch the wagon to one of the remaining countries, as we head into the final eight.

I have run the rule over each team in an attempt to unbiasedly evaluate their suitability for Australian support. In alphabetical order, here are my findings.

Belgium

There are no distinct reasons why Belgium should be struck off this list. As a peaceful country with terrific makers of chocolate and a wonderful history or art, architecture and cultural pursuits, Belgium could be a snug fit for many Aussie fans. 

Being a small nation of around 11 million residents and threatening the traditional powerhouses of world football adds to their appeal. There is a little bit of the Aussie spirit in Eden Hazard’s team.

Compatibility - High

Brazil

Sorry, no way. Neymar Jr might have turned a considerable number of Australian fans off Seleção, just as he has done with millions across the globe.

Sadly, this World Cup will be remembered for some of the nonsense he, and others, produced in terms of diving and simulation. The only pleasing thing about it is that the VAR received less attention than many expected.

Compatibility – Low

Croatia

The last census indicated that nearly 120,000 people in Australia identify themselves of Croatian ancestry and with names like Mark Bosnich, Ned Zelic and Mark Viduka in our footballing history, there will be plenty of support for Vatreni.

Those with memories of 2006 will recall the Socceroos 2-2 draw with Croatia in Germany fondly. It was the stepping stone to the round of 16. However, there was an animosity and angst in the game that may prevent some non-Croatian Aussies from adopting Luka Modric’s men for the journey.

Compatibility - Moderate  

England

There are strong reasons for Socceroo fans to align themselves with the 'mother country'. Historical and ancestral connections aside, a considerable number of Socceroos play or have played there over the years; and much assistance it gave to their development. 

We share language, a love of beer and dutifully exchange millions of dollars and pounds in tourism revenue each year.

On the down side, they are the big brother that bullies us to this very day. In recent years, cycling, hockey, netball and cricket have reminded Australians just how much we actually dislike them.

Compatibility – Moderate

France

There is something about the joie de vivre of the French that makes them appealing in many sports. When they become laissez-faire in their approach, magic can happen; whether it be tennis professionals, rugby players or their national football team. 

Kylian Mbappé is the embodiment of that spirit and if their improvement does continue, many Aussies will jump on board their feel-good story.

Conversely, they were in the Socceroos group and awarded a questionable penalty. So forget the good will. Take your champagne, berets and croissants and go home.

Compatibility – Low

Russia

Nobody predicted the Russians could possibly parlay the local support all the way to the quarter-finals - yet they have. 

Thankfully, politics has been put aside as the tournament has played out, yet the underlying memories of FIFA corruption, controversial human rights positions and centralised doping, might be a little too much for Australians to overlook when it comes to cheering on the underdogs.

Compatibility – Moderate

Sweden

There is a compelling case for Sweden. They always produce a great Eurovision entry, the Swedish chef was the best Muppet Show character and ABBA effectively made it big off Australian support in the late 1970s.

We visit there in droves and love their architectural and environmental ingenuity. My only gripe with Blagult would be IKEA; both the mental disintegration caused by convoluted assembly instructions and the left over parts that fill a drawer in my shed.

Apart from that, we like them.

Compatibility – High

Uruguay

Okay, there are two ways to look at this. One could focus on former Uruguayan star Alvaro Recoba who disrespected the Socceroos by suggesting that his nation had a ‘divine right’ to play in the World Cup. Throw in the Socceroos’ loss in 2001 and the case looks doomed.

However, Socceroo fans could also take the opposite line and respect Charruas’ role on that famous night in Sydney; the night John Aloisi caused me to break my coffee table.  

On second thoughts, no. Australians will not be supporting Uruguay.

Compatibility – Low

That's my best advice. To recap, here are my ratings in table form. I have my favourites. The choice is up to you!

Compatibility ratingCountry
HighBelgium, Sweden
ModerateCroatia, England, Russia
LowBrazil, France, Uruguay

Who will you go for in the quarter-finals? Let us know in our latest poll


Categories: Analysis | World Cup

2018 world cup, #russia2018, quarter-finals

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