The first round of the 2018 World Cup kicked off last Thursday, giving football fans around the globe a reason to celebrate like Prince in 1999. For those who haven’t been watching, Russia is hosting the tournament. Of course, Putin made a cameo at the Russia versus Saudi Arabia game and was shown clapping and cheering for his team, which is obviously a sign that he’s calling the plays and substitutions from the stands. Duh.
Jokes aside, stories have swirled in the media ether about Russia “stealing” the World Cup from England thanks to Putin’s relatively sudden interest in football. And, if you’ve followed FIFA over the last 10 years, it’s common knowledge the association is corrupt as hell. Ken Bensinger, a New York Times contributor, wrote a piece on this exact issue, which we recommend you read.
Politics (and Russian soccer doping conspiracies) aside, however, the matches have been nothing short of thrilling and emotional—just as the beautiful game often is. There’ve also been a few hilarious moments, like when the announcer during the Brazil vs. Switzerland match noted the crowd chanting the riffs to “Seven Nation Army” and said, “You hear that? Jack Black from the White Stripes.” So we’re going to break down the best moments the last six games, prep you for the rest of the week’s matches, and help you decide how to medicate.
Egypt vs. Uruguay
28 years ago was the last time Egypt appeared in the World Cup. Uruguay, on the other hand, competed in the tournament four years ago. But the score remained at zero well into the 80th minute—and both sides had multiple spine-chilling opportunities to score.
Egypt’s keeper, Mohamed Elshenawy, made some of the tournaments best saves, one of which required diving across the face of the goal to block a volley taken from outside the 18-yard-box—an attempt that honestly would’ve solidified a point in any other circumstance. Then, a few minutes later, one of Uruguay’s free kicks whacked the post in the 88th minute, making it seem as if the game would end zero-zero. But in the 89th minute, Uruguay’s center back, Jose Gimenez, scored an unstoppable header off of a corner kick, solidifying the win with 30 seconds left in the game.
Elshenawy was awarded the “Man of the Match” trophy at the end of the game. But according to reports, he turned down the accolade because of its sponsorship by Budweiser, which conflicts with his Muslim beliefs.
Next Games: Egypt plays Russia on Tuesday, June 19 at 11 a.m. PST; Uruguay plays Saudi Arabia at 8 a.m PST. on Wednesday, June 20.
Pregame Notes: It’s still yet to be determined if Egypt’s best player, Mohammed Salah—the forward who was injured in the Liverpool vs. Real Madrid Champions League final a few weeks ago—will play. As we said earlier, Russia is supposed to be the worst team in the league. Technically they are the underdog in this match. But if it’s another 5-0 blowout, we’re calling it now: the Russian footballers are on Human Growth Hormone. Remember why they were banned from the Olympics?! Exactly…
420 Preparation: A sativa dominant hybrid, like Canndescent’s Create strain, paired with a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito followed by a sun salutation to Ra, the sun god, is perhaps the only way to mentally prepare for this match.
**[UPDATE 1 p.m.:] It’s official. Russia beat Egypt 3-1. It’s likely they will make out of group play and onto the round of 16. Uruguay must win in order to make it to the next round. (GO Uruguay!)
Spain vs. Portugal:
The Spain / Portugal rivalry dates back to 1921. So, naturally, the game was a high scoring bloodbath. Also, most of the footballers on both teams play with each other in the various pro leagues around Europe. The rivalry was so thick you could pack it in a bowl and smoke it.
Spain played with their signature elegance and finesse, while the light of Cristiano Ronaldo led team Portugal. But this iteration of Spain doesn’t look as dominant as it did in 2014 when they won the title; and thanks to Ronaldo, Portugal played like fire and looks like one of the major threats of the tournament. If the game highlighted anything, it was Ronaldo’s brilliance as a player—and we’re NOT Ronaldo supporters. As a football fan, though, his genius as a player is undeniable. His performance proved that he can literally drag his team by the hair through an entire 90-minute match and ensure they put up a fight. A hat trick in the first game of the World Cup and bringing your team back from behind? C’mon.
Ronaldo is, essentially, the LeBron of Portugal: he carries his team and he’s often the reason they don’t lose. Without LeBron, Cleveland is nothing. Without Ronaldo, Portugal doesn’t compete. The 3-3 tie and Ronaldo’s hat trick was heartbreaking for Spain supporters around the globe. But the high scoring game made for beautiful football.
Next Games: Spain plays Iran at 11 a.m. PST on Wednesday, June 20; and Portugal plays Morocco at 5 a.m. PST on Wednesday, June 20.
Pregame Notes: Iran beat Morocco in the 90th minute due to an own goal last Friday morning. Both Spain and Portugal are expected to win their next games and go to the next round.
420 Preparation: What beats a medicated coffee? Nothing. Whether you’re into CBD, THC or 1:1 ratios, there’s a 420 coffee for you, and there’s no better time to enjoy that simultaneous caffeine-ganja high than a 5 a.m. game. Plus you can sleep it off before the next game at 11 if necessary.
Argentina vs. Iceland:
Iceland has never been to the World Cup. Argentina, on the other hand, has been in almost every World Cup since the beginning of time– and they made it to the final last World Cup in Brazil (and begrudgingly lost to Germany 1-0). Everyone expected Messi, the best player in the world, to bedazzle the Icelandic side with his grass fairy powers. But all bets were off when Messi’s penalty kick, which would have put the Argentinians ahead 2-1, was blocked by Iceland’s goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, who said he got in Messi’s head prior to the kick.
Argentina showcased their magnificent small, one-touch passing that normally pinballs past opposing teams. But when Iceland packed 11 players in the box the Argentinians quick, intricate passing was challenged. Iceland played with a “Hail Mary” ethos, booting the ball out of the 18-yard-box every chance they could, requiring Argentina to haul-ass and recover to avoid the counter-attack, which is how they scored their only goal of the game. Although Argentina should have won by a landslide, the long ball out of the back and packing the 18-yard box with 11 men proved effective, but it made for ugly football. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Next Games: Argentia plays Croatia at 11 a.m. PST on Thursday, June 21; Iceland plays Nigeria on Friday at 8 a.m. PST on June, 22.
Pregame Notes: Nigeria lost their last game to Croatia 2-0. The Nigerians are mostly successful due to sheer athleticism, and in 2010 were responsible for kicking U.S.A out of the round of 16–the tournament’s first knock-out round. Our guess is that Nigeria and Iceland are going to play a game of intense kickball to back and forth because neither team really have sophisticated styles of play. The match between Croatia and Argentina is going to be a more even competition. Our guess is Messi is going to have a blistering game and solidify Argentina’s first win.
420 Preparation: We recommend a 50/50 hybrid for the Argentia vs Croatia game because it’s going to be a fairly even match, and hybrids are excellent for calming nerves but still providing enough energy to stay awake and alert. For the Nigeria vs. Iceland game, however, we suggest a heavy indica, or at least 40 mgs of edibles; preferably ones that make you feel entertained by everything because it’s going to be a long 90-minute game of kickball.
Mexico vs. Germany:
This was the game of the World Cup so far. Not only was Mexico the underdog in this match, but they’re also at least a foot-and-a-half shorter than the Germans–the reigning world champions of football. But the Mexicans brought the heat. They brought the scrappy fire they’re known– and often hated– for, and played the most organized football we’ve ever seen them play. Mexico’s always played with an “all or nothing” mentality, but with that style of play often comes a lack of cohesive ball movement. Their mid-field, however, played with finesse, patience, structure, and vision, which is unlike the football they’ve played in the past. Hirving Lozano, the 22-year-old forward also known as “Chucky”, scored the lone goal in the 35th minute. He received Javier Hernandez’s pass inside the penalty area and beat Mesut Ozil to score on German goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, from 10 yards out.
Germany is one of the most powerful, consistent teams on the planet. They play with an aura of discipline unlike any other team. Most of the time, they finish games stronger than they started and always seem to have more energy than their opposition in the 90th minute–that’s why they’re the best team in the world. But the Germans seemed deflated and less impassioned next to the Mexicans, especially after Mexico’s goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, made a spectacular save palming Toni Kroos’ shot onto the crossbar.
The football dieties blessed Mexico last weekend. The cities of Santa Ana, Downtown Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and San Diego basically caught on fire due to firework celebrations. Even more impressive, seismic activity was actually detected in Mexico City due to a collective surge of jumping after they solidified the massive victory. National Geographic says it’s impossible to trigger an Earthquake from jumping, but it’s officially a part of Mexican-lore that seismic-shakes struck when Mexico beat Germany. Psh, what does NatGeo know anyway?
Next Games: Mexico plays South Korea on Saturday, June 23 at 8 a.m. PST; Germany plays Sweden at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 23.
Pregame Notes: Although this seems to be a different Mexican team than in previous tournaments, in the past Mexico has always played up to their competition, which means they sometimes play down to competitors, too. In other words, they’ve always been a little inconsistent. If they can beat Germany, though, they can beat anyone. And based on that performance logic, they can win the entire World Cup. But sometimes they can’t even beat the U.S.– it’s been awhile since it’s has happened, but it’s happened. Regardless, we are rooting for Mexico to take the cup this year. The Germany vs. Sweden match up is going to be a battle like World War II, and definitely a game you won’t want to miss.
420 Preparation: We recommend sativas for both games: Sour Diesel for the Mexico/Korea game and Super Lemon Haze for the Germany/Sweden game. If you have a Rosary we recommend doing 10 Hail Mary’s prior to Mexico’s kick off. Once you’re done praying, we suggest puffing a milky drag of Sour Diesel, blowing the smoke upwards to the heavens and keeping the mezcal handy for when Mexico scores. For the Germany/Sweden game we recommend Super Lemon Haze to remain clear-headed, connected and in tune. And, as always, keep a six-pack of Spaten Optimator on deck.
England vs. Tunisia
In theory, England should always be one of the top competitors in the World Cup. They have the English Premier League, the English are football obsessed and they breed footballers the way Americans breed tackle-football players. But the English side hasn’t performed well in a World Cup tournament in decades. What’s more, they haven’t won a World Cup since July 30, 1966. With somewhat of a curse in place, guessing how the game would go was iffy. In minute 11 England’s captain, Harry Kane, scored the games first goal. But then, in the 33rd minute, Englishman Kyle Walker elbowed a Tunisian player in the face inside the 18-yard-box, giving Tunisia a penalty kick. From that moment, the score was tied 1-1 until the 89th minute, when Kane scored a radical header off of a corner kick to win the game with one minute left.
Next Games: Tunisia plays Belgium on Saturday, June 23, at 5 a.m. PST; England plays Panama on Sunday, June 24 at 5 a.m. PST
Pregame Notes: Belgium swept Panama 3-0 in their match on Monday. But Panama is no team to underestimate. They’re feisty, in your face and one of those teams known to punch you where it hurts– and then capitalize while you’re down. England should win, but there’ve been more upsets in this first round of group play than in previous World Cups. So, it’s impossible to say who’s going to put more goals away, especially with inconsistent England in the mix. Likewise, Belgium should beat Tunisia. But we’ll have to watch next weekend to find out.
420 Preparation: Two 5 a.m. games in a row calls for some energy. We suggest rolling a joint with some terpene-rich sativa wax folded in there to enhance the power of the herb. For the Belgium / Tunisia game, we suggest pairing that hefty joint with a cup of Yerba Mate and perhaps a Belgian waffle to help you get into the spirit.
Poland vs. Senegal:
Poland should have won this game. But who knew Senegal had a passing game? We didn’t. And not only can they string more than three or four passes together, the Senegal players are also fast as fuck, causing Poland to start the game on their heels. After a few attempts at goal, Senegal scored a goal in the 35th minute that ricocheted off a Polish defender and into the net putting them up 1-0. Poland had several solid looks at the end of the first half and in the second half, putting the Sengalian goalkeeper to work. In the 60th minute, however, Senegal scored another goal, which has become the most controversial goal of the tournament. Forward, M’Baye Niang sprinted on to the field after an injury, and immediately intercepted a backpass from the midfield, beating the last defender and goalkeeper the ball. Niang had a wide open net to score, putting Senegal ahead 2-0. The replay shows he might have been offside, but it also shows how unaware and caught off guard the Polish were. Poland put one goal away later in the game, but still lost 2-1.
Next Games: Poland plays Colombia on Sunday, June 24 at 11 a.m.; Senegal plays Japan on Sunday, June 24 at 8 a.m.
Pregame Notes: We learned what happens to Colombian players when they don’t make the right plays– if you don’t know what we’re talking about watch the film The Two Escobars. It’d be devastating to see them fumble a loss to Poland. That said, Poland is ranked number eight in the world, so it’s going to be a tight game, to say the least. On the flip side, the Japanese are highly underrated in football. They play ultra quick and are crafty when it comes to scoring goals. Senegal, however, are fast, athletic and sneaky, which should make for a killer game.
420 Preparation: Start with an AC/DC CBD joint for the Senegal / Japan game. Then for the Poland / Colombia match, kick it up a knotch to a medicated lemonade and let the floaty feelings calm your mind, so you don’t have to think about what happens to Colombian football players when they lose.