Where to watch, and who to support
World Cup season is finally upon us. Every four years, football fanaticism surges during a month-long period before reaching its apex in the tournament final, this year scheduled for July 13. The World Cup is the world’s most widely viewed sporting event, bringing together die-hard and casual fans alike.
For some, it is a religious experience. For others, it’s simply an excuse to go out to bars and share in at least 90 minutes of crazed fanaticism concluding in either jubilant highs or soul-crushing lows. There are no games ending in a draw past the group stage, there are no wins based on an aggregate score and there are no participants who haven’t dreamed of hoisting that trophy as the hero of his country.
This is the World Cup.
Unfortunately, Iceland does not have a team representing us this time around (they were thisclose to qualifying). However, that does not mean that Icelanders can’t or won’t join in on the festivities. For locals or for tourists, for those who rabidly comb the Internet for transfer rumours, or for those who don’t know the difference between Lionel Messi and Lionel Ritchie, this is our guide to where to watch the games and, if your allegiances aren’t already tied, who to support.
WHERE TO WATCH
The independent cinema will be showing all games and boasts a huge screen and 205 seats. Every day between 17:00 and 19:30 they will be offering a two for one deal on all beer and wine. Admission is free.
Bjarni Fel is rolling out an extensive World Cup menu and will be showing the games on 20 HDTVs and five HD projectors, including a massive projector screen in the Hresso garden.
Boston will be cheering hard for Mexico, offering up free tequila shots when they score. In a heart-warming gesture of international fairness, Boston will also be offering 50% off shots when any other team scores.
Perhaps worthy of winning the award for most creative World Cup drinking set-up, The Dubliner will give patrons the chance to participate in a “Shot World Cup.” Each country has a representative shot (for example, vodka shots for Russia or a Bailey’s/grenadine mixture resembling the English flag), and while a game is being played, shots from that match-up will be half-price. At the end of the tournament, The Dubliner will buy a national team jersey from the country with the most popular shot and auction the shirt off for charity. Blimey!
Glaumbar is sporting eight brand new HDTVs, as well as 5 HD projectors. They’ll be offering 1.5 L pitchers for 2,000 ISK, and during happy-hour (starting at 22:00), draught beer is half-priced.
They will be showing every game on a variety of big-screen TVs, and will be offering their usual happy-hour deal: two for one on wines and draught beer between 16:00 and 19:00.
Karaoke Sports Bar
Karaoke Sports Bar will be showing every game on their array of TVs and offering up 700 ISK beers while all games are being played.
Stúdentakjallarinn will be showing games on their massive screen (11 m2), with space for nearly 400 fans. In addition to a variety of food specials, wine is priced at 690 ISK and beer is 790 ISK (490 for University of Iceland students).
WHO TO SUPPORT
If you want to support an Icelander…
…root for the United States. That’s right, the “Yanks.” While there was initially some contempt (Football Association of Iceland: “[He] has no link to soccer in the USA at all”) when Alabama-born, Reykjavík-raised Aron Jóhannsson chose to play for the U.S. team instead of for Iceland, many Icelanders are excited to watch him play on the world’s biggest stage. The sprightly 23-year-old Kevin Bacon doppelgänger has already seen playing time as a forward for the U.S. and a goal would certainly thrust him into worldwide conversation as an up-and-coming football star—a rare opportunity for an Icelander or for an American.
If you want to support the favourites…
…root for Brazil. If you are putting money on the line, or simply want the best chance to brag to your friends about how right you were, Brazil is the team to pick. The home-field advantage, in addition to young star Neymar’s speed and creativity and a star-studded defence, is enough to convince well-known statistics guru Nate Silver to award them a 45% chance of winning the trophy.
If you want to support the ultimate underdog…
…root for Australia. Though they are the best team in their continent (djók!) the “Socceroos” are the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the tournament, according to FIFA rankings. At 62nd in the world, they are ranked lower than Iceland (52nd). Some people naturally gravitate towards rooting for underdogs, and as the worst team overall in the tournament’s toughest group (matched with Spain, Netherlands, and Chile), Australia—the longest of long shots—certainly could use your support.
If you want to support a beard almost worthy of belonging to an Icelander…
…root for Andrea Pirlo and the Italian Team. In the past we’ve covered the Icelandic penchant and skill for growing beards, and Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo’s facial fur is nearly up to the high standard set by Icelanders. The fashionably-whiskered 35 year-old known as the “puppet master” virtuosically leads the “Azzuri” attack, often weaving through passes that will make you double or triple-take.
If you want to support Iceland’s post-colonial brethren…
…root for Ghana. During this World Cup, you might have an empathetic soft spot for the “Black Stars.” Like Iceland, Ghana once suffered under the Danish colonial yoke, as part of the Danish Gold Coast until 1850. Star forward Asamoah Gyan will try to power Ghana to at least the semi-finals—they would be the first African team to do so.
If you want to support the trendy dark horse…
…root for Belgium. This is also the part of the guide that could be called “How to Trick Your Friends Into Thinking You Know More About Football Than You Actually Do.” Led by midfielder Eden Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, the Belgian squad is one of the most talented in the world, though the country is not traditionally thought of as a football power. However, thanks to repeatedly being declared the “dark horse” of the World Cup, it would hardly be a surprise to see them make a deep run. Chile would also qualify as a trendy upset pick, led by Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez.
And finally, if you’re in the mood for some in-game guidance, one of our most enduring journalists, Sindri Eldon, is live-tweeting the matches from Reykjavík Grapevine’s Twitter account: