The United States may have been knocked out in the round of 16, but that doesn’t mean the World Cup has to be over for you. When you can’t go off of patriotism alone to pick your team (we hope you all had a great 4th!) it could come down to anything––the city you most enjoyed visiting, the country with the best food, or even the hottest player. So, to make it easier for you (and to help bring out your competitive spirit and you get invested again in time for the semis) we put together a quick, handy guide to choosing your new World Cup favorite. With four teams remaining, it’s down to…
Official Language: Portuguese
Food: Churrasco, or Brazilian barbecue. Visit a Brazilian churrascaria stateside to sample a variety of meats cooked over charcoal on skewers. Rather than giving you a menu to order from, waiters walk through the restaurant with skewers and slice portions of what you’d like to sample directly onto your plate.
Drink: The Caipirinha. A close relative of the mojito, this light, refreshing cocktail is made with Brazilian cachaça, sugar, and lime. It’s Brazil’s national cocktail, and it’s the perfect complement to a day lounging in the tropics (or poolside at home).
City to Visit: Rio de Janeiro. Climb hundreds of steps to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer, or head to one of the city’s gorgeous beaches, like Copacabana or Ipanema, for a more low key afternoon.
You might be too late to catch the World Cup, but you can always head down to Rio to catch carnival or the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Style Inspiration: Brazil is known for it’s bikinis, but you don’t have to bare it all to get the look. Brights and beachwear are the perfect way to infuse your wardrobe with a little South American flair.
Star Player: With Neymar out, Brazil will have to rely much more heavily on their back line. Defender David Luiz will be a player to watch in the two upcoming matches. He scored a goal in Brazil’s last game against Colombia, and took a moment after the game to console opposing player and World Cup leading scorer James Rodriguez (which we think is just as commendable).
Eye Candy: He’ll be watching the next two games from the bench, but Neymar has won the most hearts both at home and internationally.
Strengths: In Brazil, fútbol is more than just a game, it’s a religion. As the host country, their fan base will dominate the crowd, giving them the home field advantage. They have a lot of really talented players, including some of the best defensive players in the world, so it will be hard for opposing teams to break through to score.
Weaknesses: They’ve lost Neymar to a broken vertebra, and Thiago Silva was suspended from the game for a yellow card in the quarterfinals. With two key players missing, Brazil has gone from clear favorite to the underdog.
Next Match: Tuesday, July 8th, at 1pm Pacific Time, versus Germany.
Official Language: Spanish
Food: Empanadas. The snackable, savory street food consists of a mini pie crust folded in half, typically stuffed with chicken, beef, or cheese, with cumin, olive, grilled onion, and egg to add flavor.
Drink: The once underrated French grape Malbec has blown up into Argentina’s chief wine varietal. The full bodied wine is characterized by jammy notes of plum and blackberry with earthy, tannic undertones.
City to Visit: Buenos Aires. Catch a tango show, take in an art museum, and snap a photo in front of the colorful houses in La Boca in Argentina’s capital.
Style Inspiration: Take a page out of the players’ book and pair blue and white for a laid back, effortless look. Argentinian style is relaxed, natural, casual, and a little bit boho, yet always pulled together––just one more reason Buenos Aires is known as ‘the Paris of South America’.
Star Player: Recognized as one of the best players in the world (and of all time) Lionel Messi is the backbone of the Argentine team.
Eye Candy: Check out Sergio Aguero and Mariano Andujar if the ref stops the game for an injury or a free kick.
Strengths: As a top scorer, Messi draws defenders to him, leaving his teammates open for a pass with clear shot on goal. And with 4 of the team’s 8 World Cup goals, he’s as good at scoring as he is at setting up plays.
Weaknesses: The team has a big height disadvantage, and they aren’t as fast as some of the other teams. They’re stronger when they have possession of the ball, so defense could be their achilles heel.
Next Match: Wednesday, July 9th, at 1pm Pacific Time, versus Netherlands.
Official Language: German
Food: Sausage is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of German food, but we’ve found that pretzels are a much better sports-watching snack. They’re light, easy to eat with your hands, and they pair perfectly with beer––plus they’re as delicious on their own as they are dipped in mustard.
Drink: Beer. Unsurprisingly, it’s the number one selling alcoholic beverage in Germany, and Oktoberfest is to Germany as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans. Plus, your average German beer is light years better than your standard bottom shelf American brew.
City to Visit: Berlin. Since the wall came down, culture has grown by leaps and bounds in this cool, cosmopolitan city, and it’s now one of Europe’s biggest artistic hubs. There are art installations from top names scattered around the city like easter eggs (and many are in public spaces, so you don’t even have to pay to see them) so you can make a day of tracking them down before taking in a little world history at the wall. It’s also known for its nightlife, and is regularly touted as the home of some of the best clubs in the world.
Style Inspiration: Think edgy, sophisticated, minimalist, and modern. Berlin’s fashion is unique, unpretentious, and suited to a fast paced urban lifestyle. The colder climate makes layering a necessity, so women dress to stand out without showing tons of skin.
Star Player: Striker Miroslav Klose is just one goal away from tying the record for the player with the most goals scored in World Cup tournaments over their entire career. (The record is 15).
Eye Candy: Mats Hummels is one of the few players who manages to look as good with facial hair as without it.
Strengths: Germany has held on to a lot of the same players for a while, so they know each other well, and they know how to play as a team, so they play like a well-oiled machine. Rather than having one star striker, they have a few, so there’s less chance that an injury or a red card could hurt their chances, and they’ll be harder for other teams to cover.
Weaknesses: With a team of veteran players, they’ll likely tire out before their opponents. A tie that leads to extra time could give other teams a scoring advantage.
Next Match: Tuesday, July 8th, at 1pm Pacific Time, versus Brazil.
Food: The US isn’t the only country that can count fries among its most characteristic foods. The Dutch are known for a snack called patat, or thick-cut fries, which are then doused in mayonnaise and served in a cone.
Drink: Genever is a blend of distilled spirits and juniper berries that’s very similar to gin. It’s often enjoyed in shot form with beer to follow, but if that’s not your style, you can mix it into a cocktail.
City to Visit: Amsterdam. It may be known for its loose laws, but there’s a lot more to this city than vice. It’s a very free, open city, and that’s reflected in their culture as well as what typically draws tourists. Check out the local coffee houses and bars, or for a more low key day, explore the city by bike––the locals’ favored form of transportation. Then you can get your daily dose of culture with a visit to the Anne Frank House or the Van Gogh Museum.
Style Inspiration: As the number one most bike-friendly city in the world, Amsterdam has gained a reputation for being sporty and chic––so cool, casual, athletic-inspired style is the way to go. We love clothes you can live in that also make you look fantastic, and day-to-day Dutch style is the perfect source of inspiration. Design your look from the bottom up with wedges, boots, or statement sneakers.
Star Player: With speed, footwork, and a killer left foot on his side, Arjen Robben has been crucial to the Netherlands’ success up to this point.
Eye Candy: We’ll have one eye on Robin van Persie and one on Daryl Janmaat for the upcoming semifinal.
Strengths: They have both speed and height going for them. They can outrun most opposing teams’ defenders, so they’ll be able to get into position for some dangerous crosses into the box, and headers are usually won by the tallest players.
Weaknesses: Their biggest challenge so far has been keeping possession on their side of the field; they rely on long balls to make key plays, so against a team with strong defense, they’ll be more likely to make mistakes.
Next Match: Wednesday, July 9th, at 1pm Pacific Time, versus Argentina.