If The 2010 FIFA World Cup Was The Quidditch World Cup, Who Would Win?
Saying a footballer is "magic" or a "wizard" with the ball, has never really carried much weight.
I'll ask all of you to let your mind wander back to the time you read "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (no need for tough guys here, we all know you read it)
Our storied protagonist, Harry Potter has the honor of attending the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasleys. The finals featured Ireland and Bulgaria, neither of whom will be competing in this years FIFA World Cup.
Which got me to thinking, if we put the best footballers in the world on broomsticks, which nation would come out on top?
For those of you who aren't Quidditch savvy (or have had your head buried in the proverbial pop culture sand for the past eight some odd years), here is how the game works.
The game is played in an oval stadium with a grass field, but all players are flying on broomsticks.
Each team is given three hoops of different heights to defend.
The keeper for each team, defends the hoops.
Each squad has three "chasers", who function as forwards, passing the "quaffle" (the main ball) amongst themselves with their hands. Their goal is to throw the quaffle past the keeper and into the hoops, each tally is 10pts. Chasers also have to play the other way as well, defending the opposing team's chasers.
Teams are also outfitted with two "beaters", who are equipped with small bats for beating away flying magical balls called "bludgers". Bludgers are heavy, dangerous and act of their own accord. Beaters use the bats to either direct bludgers at opposing players, or to protect their own teammates from the bludgers' wrath.
Finally, each team has one "seeker". The seeker's sole job is to catch the "snitch", a tiny, golden ball with wings that is released at the beginning of the match.
The snitch also acts of its own accord, buzzing around quite undetected until the game is in full swing.
Once the snitch is spotted, both seekers give chase and try to capture it. Once the snitch is caught, the game is over and the team who has nabbed the snitch is awarded 150pts.
The team with the most points wins the game.
Easy enough? Let's have a look at the top football teams that would fancy their chances in the Quidditch World Cup.
Keeper: Hugo Lloris
Beaters: Patrice Evra, William Gallas
Chasers: Thierry Henry, Yoann Gourcuff, Nicolas Anelka
Seeker: Franck Ribery
If you recall from the "Goblet of Fire", Hogwarts was visited by some students from the Beauxbaton Academy of Magic believed to be located in France, a key magical advantage for Les Bleus.
The French Quidditch team is solid at the back with the nice combination of Lloris, Evra and Gallas.
Gourcuff and Anelka provide creativity and scoring ability, Henry should work out just fine considering he's actually allowed to use his hands in Quidditch.
Ribery's small stature and bulldog mentality make him a prime choice for the position of seeker.
Keeper: Manuel Neuer
Beaters: Per Mertesacker, Serdar Tasci
Chasers: Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski
Seeker: Miroslav Klose
Germany looks to take their "Teamgeist" approach to the skies as they pursue the title.
Lahm's exceptional attacking ability as a fullback suits him more for a chaser role, where he'll provide much needed support on defense but can still go forward confidently.
His trademark move of cutting from the wing to the center and attempting the long range shot would pose problems for opposing keepers.
Schweinsteiger has shown he's an asset in the middle of the field, creating chances and passing effectively from the center of Bayern's midfield.
Schweiny's No. 1 target would be Cologne's Lukas Podolski, the Germans could be in good shape if Podi's left hand is as powerful as his left foot.
Klose is one of the best goal scorers in World Cup history, Germany would be keen to make him the seeker so that he can come through when Die Mannschaft needs the points.
Keeper: Maarten Stekelenburg
Beaters: Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Joris Mathijsen
Chasers: Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder
Seeker: Dirk Kuyt
Seeing as they are called "The Flying Dutchmen", Holland would definitely be in the running for the Quidditch World Cup Title.
Edwin van der Sar has hung up the broomstick for 2010, but the experienced beater duo should bring young Stekelenburg along just fine.
Holland's chasers should inject this team with an attacking mindset (here we see Sneijder honing his skills in a key training session). Sneijder's long range ability would be a deadly weapon and Robben's form as of late makes him a great feeding option for the young van Persie.
However, the thought of seeing these three hustle back on defense is laughable.
Dirk Kuyt is a wonderful finisher and should prove well as the seeker, plus his hair sometimes makes him look like Draco Malfoy.
Keeper: Sergio Romero
Beaters: Martin Demichelis, Gabriel Heinze
Chasers: Diego Milito, Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Mascherano
Seeker: Lionel Messi
Manager Diego Maradona missed out on a chance to really balance his team out by leaving Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti off the roster.
That said, Mascherano should provide good skill both ways as a chaser. One of the stouter tackling midfielders in Europe, he'd provide a unique defensive strength in a WC where most chasers are forwards and attack-minded midfielders.
Argentina's supporters can feel comfortable about Milito given his performance in the Champion's League Final.
Who else could fill the role of seeker but little Lionel Messi?
The maestro's unrivaled agility on the pitch would translate into a quick and shifty flyer. Messi would have the clear advantage as a seeker, as snitches like to get technical, weaving in and out of other players.
Also, this international sensation with boyish looks could be thrown into robes and passed off as a Hogwarts student any day of the week.
Keeper: David James
Beaters: Rio Ferdinand, Ledley King
Chasers: Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Jermain Defoe
Seeker: Theo Walcott
Hailing from the land of Hogwarts, England will fancy their chances of winning the Quidditch World Cup.
Having presumably grown up around the game of Quidditch, the English have a leg up on the international competition.
Steven Gerrard provides attacking creativity and playmaking ability, while Rooney's surprising strength as a striker would make him one of the more dangerous chasers in competition.
The spectacular Spur Defoe compliments Gerrard and Rooney nicely with his speed and finesse.
Harry Potter was considered for the starting job of seeker, but considering he doesn't exist, there was nothing doing.
Toni Poole was another name being kicked around, seeing as she has had some previous experience catching snitches already.
However, Theo Walcott is the top choice for the English, the Gunner plays like he was shot out of an actual cannon. He is one of the fastest players in the premiership and should be able to beat out most seekers when chasing down the snitch.
Keeper: Iker Casillas
Beaters: Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique
Chasers: David Villa, Xavi, Xabi Alonso
Seeker: Fernando Torres
Fancy that, one of the best teams in the world on foot, is also the best team in the world on broomsticks.
You won't find a more solid duo of beaters than Spain's. Pique and Puyol are both physical and aggressive.
Xavi is as close as you can get to an acutal wizard on the field. His passing abilities and field vision are (dare I say?) magical. Plus I always thought he looked like a little magical elf or something.
David Villa scores so much you'd think he was casting spells on opposing teams' backlines, his potential to acutally do so in Quidditch is downright scary.
Alonso provides good technical ability, his uncanny knack for cashing in from long range makes him an asset for any chasing trio.
Plus, the fact that he might be forced into the role of defensive midfielder for the Spanish national team means that he will bring a more defensive-minded style of play for the Spanish Quidditch team.
Of course, Torres has the advantage of playing on an English club team. Being in such a proximal location to London, he's had the chance to see all the Harry Potter movie premieres, educating himself on the latest Quidditch tactics.
His combination of speed and razor-sharp instincts make him the clear cut choice for seeker.