The Incomplete Panini Album World Cup Preview

The 2014 World Cup is advancing menacingly, like a drunken tramp approaching to bellow songs into a traffic cone in exchange for money. There is only one place that can deliver the sort of preview that can justify the hype, and you’re looking right at it, mister. If you thought you were already excited about the mere prospect of Brazil, then think again. Only after reading this will you be correctly prepared for what’s to come, you absolute moron.

"There are three names in this envelope…"

“There are three names in this envelope…”

Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed prides itself on the depth and quality of its research. With that in mind, our groundbreaking preview of the forthcoming World Cup has been compiled using the finest factual resource available to man – a half-complete Panini sticker album. Gasp in sickening wonder as we look at the dramatis personae that look set to make this summer one of the World Cuppiest of the modern age.

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Here is just some of the high-flying action we can expect to see in Rio. In this scintillating picture, we can see the legendary Panini Man failing to make contact with a rudimentary overhead kick. This lack of accuracy is why he currently finds himself without a club.

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Best get a move on, lads.

When journalists began to circulate rumours that some of the World Cup stadia were only half-finished, they weren’t joking. Panini have not produced the left-sided stickers for these two grounds as they will not be built in time for the tournament. As it became apparent to FIFA that construction workers would not have enough time to build complete stadia, they were instructed to build only one half, in order for Panini to circulate at least half of the stadium stickers. Numbers 8 and 12 simply do not exist, as the Estadio Mineirao and Arena Pantanal have only had their right-sides built. FIFA plans on keeping up the ruse throughout the tournament with a combination of green-screen technology and having players swap the partings in their hair to the opposite side for the second-half of matches, to create the illusion that the teams have swapped ends when they haven’t, because their is only one end. Sure to cause discussion in the pubs this summer!

BRAZIL

Old bastards,

Old bastards

Host nation Brazil has a lot to live up to, as they look to overcome the handicap of having several players named after very old men. This follows an earlier controversy when fans angrily protested the inclusion of Oscar, Bernard and Fred in the squad, at the expense of erstwhile seleção favourites such as Compo, Clegg and Nora Batty.

CROATIA

"AAAAGGGGHHHH!!"

“AAAAGGGGHHHH!!”

OGNJEN VUKOJEVIC HAS ARRIVED TO EAT YOUR FAMILY WHOLE. Possible dark horses?

CAMEROON

Not seeing eye-to-eye.

Not seeing eye-to-eye.

No World Cup is complete without one team falling apart because they’re all twats and can’t get a long for a few weeks. That team is likely to be Cameroon. Observe how Joel Matip looks with barely-concealed scorn at the crazed hair of Benoit Assou-Ekotto. A certain sign that trouble is a-brewin’.

SPAIN

GBOL

GBOL

By contrast, Spain’s team spirit is at an all-time high, touching each other’s knees in their team photograph. Every relationship needs its moments of tenderness in order to thrive. Expect Spain to do well, if not by winning the tournament, then perhaps by getting matching tattoos or buying each other eternity rings.

HOLLAND

The Dutch will be at a notable handicap, after harsh sanctions handed down from FIFA. Oranje hardman Nigel De Jong has been told quite specifically that he is not allowed to boot people in the chest like an angry bailiff kicking in some slag’s door. Elsewhere in the squad, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is a major injury doubt, as the lower half of his face continues to taper off dangerously. It is expected that his entire mouth may disappear prior to Holland’s opening game against Spain.

Tiny gob.

Tiny gob.

URUGUAY

For Uruguay, much depends on the happiness of mercurial gobshite Luis Suarez. Here we can see that he is deeply unhappy at being told by the Panini photographer that his ears somehow look even more stupid for being pinned back. A dark omen perhaps?

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U R GAY

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica’s preparations have been hit by the unwelcome drama surrounding key player Roy Miller, who was recently told by FIFA that he needs to return his name to the name shop, as it “doesn’t sound Costa Rican enough”. Here we see the beleaguered chap just moments before being nabbed by the authorities.

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Lookin’ tense

ENGLAND

There have been concerns that England’s pasty-white players will wilt in the Brazilian heat, and it would appear these fears, much like your nan’s dead face at her funeral, are not without foundation. Frank Lampard’s sticker depicts the Chelsea semi-orphan melting like a crap ice cream. A Mini-Milk or some such.

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Picture of a pile of Lampard-shaped goop.

ECUADOR

The team affectionately known as ‘The Norwich City of South America’ will struggle, after the squad staged a training camp walk-out in protest after Panini announced they had run out of glue, and couldn’t be bothered ordering any more in to print off any more Ecuadorian stickers. The five stickers pictured are the only ones in circulation – the rest do not exist.

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HONDURAS

The Honduran Football Association caused a stir at the official unveiling of the team’s new kit, where it was announced that they would compete in the World Cup playing by the rules of baseball. All other teams in their group will observe the rules of football. In each match, the winner will be the team to score the most home runs.

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NIGERIA

Will this finally prove to be Shola Ameobi’s World Cup? No.

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Of course not.

GHANA

Ghana will expect to struggle in a tough group containing Germany, Portugal, USA and a truck full of bombs being driven by a man with no legs. However, they’re widely expected to have the Happiest Player award sewn up, thanks to Christian Atsu, whose face is absolutely delighted. What a lovely guy.

"Just really happy to be here, lads."

“Just really happy to be here, lads.”

 

USA

YOO-ESS-AY. YOO-ESS-AY, YOO-ESS-AY.

YOO-ESS-AY. YOO-ESS-AY, YOO-ESS-AY.

Team America’s hopes rest on goalkeeper Tim Howard’s attempts to confuse opposition strikers by wearing the same shirt as his outfield team-mates. Known as the ‘Anti-Campos’, this pioneering technique has already been derided by many of the game’s top pundits as total jobbies.

PREDICTIONS, EXPECTATIONS, DEMANDS

  • There will be a selection of light and dark horses.
  • World Cup history video montages must include the following footage: Marco Tardelli’s gaping maw, Gazza’s tears and that much-loved clip of Jurgen Klinsmann doing a jobby on a glass table while Lothar Matthaus lies beneath, pounding his parson.
  • Everyone will have a really good time.
  • Diana Ross to slam home a redemption penalty in the opening ceremony, with the Ex-Supreme’s celebration to be choreographed by Stuart Pearce.
  • Grown men crying.
  • England’s Raheem Sterling will be one of the stars of the tournament: one year from now he will join the Army.
  • ITV anchorgit Adrian Chiles will horrify a nation by buttering his guts prior to ad breaks.
  • FOOTBALL! (I will not budge on this)

RGSOAS GOLD

For further adventures in Panini, check out the Euro 2012 Ruud Gullit Drinking Game.

Expecting England to fail? Why not play England Bingo with your mates or parole officer? Or cheer yourself up with Baddiel and Skinner.

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Troubling the Canon – Papiss Cissé and the Sanctity of Great Goals

Papiss Cissé scored quite a good goal a few weeks ago. You may have heard about it at the time, or as a result of the steady proliferation of end of season reviews that have considered it to be among the best goals scored in the Premiership this season. 

But where does it stand in comparison to some of the very best goals ever scored? To ask a question so soon after the goal was scored may smack of knee-jerkery berkery, but it does prompt discussion on what makes a goal worthy of placement in the pantheon that homes the all-time best.

The Guardian’s Jacob Steinberg once opined that there should be no definitive discussion of the ‘best goal ever’, rather that any such debate should incorporate different categories of goal – for example, best team goal, best header, best volley and so forth. The thinking behind it was to form some semblance of structure to the debate, whilst expanding the parameters to allow for logic. His theory was that, when comparing, say, Carlos Alberto to Zinedine Zidane, the finishing touch applied by the Brazilian cannot touch the Frenchman’s for technique and grace, for sheer mastery of the ball. However, one goal came from a fortuitous hooked cross that had little right to be an assist, while the other was the climax of a beautiful, state-of-the-art passing move that crystallised the very essence of an era-defining side. Which goal is better? Well, that all depends…

And so the debate will continue until such time as Millwall have won the Champions League with a team of expensively assembled space-age droids. What is the best goal, and why? And how? AND WHERE?! We will and can never know. But the reason that Cissé’s goal struck a particular chord with me is that it instantly evoked memories of two other goals that can be taken as its spiritual kin, forming a trinity of strikes that collectively provoke debate concerning the best goals ever scored.

Marco Van Basten and Roberto Carlos are not names that many football fans would naturally associate with each other, much less Cissé, but they all have something in common. To my mind, they have each scored the type of goal that occupy their own annex in the library of great goals. All three stand alone, as if they were communicated to us in a different language.

All three, to borrow the ‘Steinberg System’, would be ranked highly in the technique section of the all-time greats. I have rewatched many goals that have impressed me for any number of reasons, but these three goals in particular bear repeat viewings in the same way that you might rewind footage of a magic trick. ‘How did that happen?’ I wondered each time, after Van Basten, Carlos and Cissé achieved the implausible with the swing of a leg.

These three goals make for compelling stablemates, and not just for their aesthetic qualities. They all share the same element of raw wonder, the sense that no-one else could have ever tried such a thing. They also raise questions of the canon of great goals, and what it takes to get there…

“I just hit it and it’s went in!”

Van Basten’s is frequently cited as the greatest goal of all time, largely due to the dramatic gravitas of being scored in the final of a major tournament. So few great goals are scored in finals, perhaps due to a fear of failure. Trying the spectacular and failing badly is a worse prospect when done in front of a global TV audience of billions.

The fact that Van Basten would attempt something so audacious in the first place earns significant kudos, but it is legitimised by being a decisive factor in shaping history. The history books will state plainly that Holland beat the USSR thanks to a goal from Van Basten (as well as another from the spiritual father of this parish), which immediately propels it high in the upper echelons. This goal was the masterpiece of a career that amassed 218 goals in 208 club games, and stands as a monument in tribute of a fine career.

“I just hit it and it’s went in!”

The Carlos free-kick is perhaps overlooked due to being scored in Le Tournoi, an inconsequential post-season international contest won by England (which surely only denounces the tournament’s quality further). Another thing that may count against it is the fact that Carlos took so many free-kicks throughout his career but scored very few, with the beef-legged Brazilian adopting the maxim that, should you bend enough shit around a wall, eventually, something will stick.

As such, this goal was responsible for creating the falsehood that he was a dead-ball specialist, adding weight to the status of the goal. Not only was it something wonderful to look at, it constructed a comic-book style story of origin, breathing to life the mythos that would maintain the legend long after he had faded from view. The idea of the man with ball-bending thighs of oak was practically born as a result of this goal. So, whilst being pleasing to the eye, it also comes with its own spin-off story of sorts. Not bad for a toe-punt.

“I just hit it and it’s went in!”

Cissé’s goal is still waiting in the canon’s in-tray, to be filed in some as yet indeterminate place. The technique has rightly been praised, but as with the Van Basten and Carlos strikes, it is the sheer audacity that is most admirable. Which sane man would ever have considered even trying such a thing, from that angle, and that distance, against Petr Cech? By any definition, it was something bordering on genius.

The man now has a fight on his hands to preserve the integrity of the goal, by ensuring that his subsequent career manages to stay within distance of a bar that has now been irrevocably raised. The goal will be considered in higher esteem if he should go on to have a fantastic career, in the same way that David Beckham’s future achievements were presaged by one particular strike. Should Cissé’s run of form fizzle out, so too might memories of his goal. If he should help Newcastle to win major honours, or if he should join a bigger club, this goal might be considered his audition tape, early footage of a nascent career later spent breathing the rarefied air of the game’s elite.

The myth is that scoring a truly wonderful goal should ensure your place in history, but it’s not strictly true. He now has a legacy to protect, and needs to galvanise it with the fundament of future success. There is a determination to ensure that the great goals are scored by the great players. The history books must be unblemished by the chance triumphs of the mediocre. Nobody remembers very much of Mauro Bressan, a man who did this. See also: Trevor Sinclair, Roy Wegerle and Shaun Bartlett.

What will come of Cissé’s wondergoal? Will it one day be thought of as one of his promising, earlier works, signposting a career destined for greatness? Or will it be dismissed as some dazzling, left-of-field curio, filed alongside the heady summer of Tony Yeboah? Perhaps it will simply be revealed that Cissé is the result of some futuristic experiment in cryogenics, with the harvested DNA of Pele, Maradona and Cruyff melded together to create the ultimate footballer, which will no doubt end in some cataclysmic hormonal imbalance that will inevitably end in a tragic training ground killing spree. In the meantime, let’s just enjoy these moments while we still can, and let history decide their futures.

Your Favourite Football Moments Ruined By Banter – Andrés Iniesta

Thanks to football, the word ‘banter’ has been misappropriated by gits and ruined forever. It is now filed shamefully away in the twat drawer along with others, such as ‘legend’, ‘random’ and ‘genius’. Others have commented on this linguistic blight on modern society, but such an unfortunate malaise requires further attention, so I’m afraid it’s all hands to the pump (EH, LADS!? PENIS BANTER! WKD SIDE!).

Using a time machine built out of old copies of Nuts magazine, Burton’s t-shirts, and a barrel full of the congealed sperm of THE LADS, Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed will reimagine iconic footballing moments of yore, accurately reinterpreting them through the boobs-shaped prism of this modern disease.

Today, we take you back to July 11th 2010, and the World Cup final between Spain and Holland in Johannesburg.

After 116 minutes of play, Spain’s intricate passing game has failed to find a way through the stubborn reluctance of Holland’s attritional warfare. A victory for the reigning European champions would surely be universally embraced as a victory for the beautiful game. And so it is that Barcelona’s Andrés Iniesta, so often the unsung hero for club and country, breaches the Dutch defence for the first time, securing the triumph that everyone wants to see with a deft finish. As ecstatic Spanish screams envelop the ubiquitous sound of vuvuzelas, Iniesta sprints away in celebration, trying to outrun time itself to prolong this, the greatest single achievement possible in the sport, and as this begins to sink in, he removes his shirt in an orgiastic frenzy of bloke sloganeering, and an iconic moment is destroyed by the debasing pursuit of banter…