With less than a week away, the FIFA World Cup is the planet's premiere sporting event, which garners attention on absolutely every last corner of the globe.
In the United States, fever for the World Cup is unwisely tempered, despite the growing amount of popularity for the sport within the country's borders. Perhaps the issue is a disconnect between the average American and the average European sports fan.
This article will pair every country playing in the World Cup with every team in one of America's most popular sports: football.
South Africa = Cleveland Browns
Home field is the Bafana Bafana's biggest card this summer at the World Cup. Like the Browns at the Dawg Pound, the South Africans will enjoy a unique advantage in that opponents will be treated to a loud, wild crowd when they step onto the pitch.
In the ways of overall talent? The Browns and the South Africans are near the bottom of the barrel in the power rankings.
Mexico = San Diego Chargers
Every four years, fans are made to think that Mexico are juggernauts who can take the World Cup as dark horses, pointing at the oodles of talent at every line. The Chargers have been sexy Super Bowl picks for the last half-decade or so.
Both have been constant disappointments in the post-season. Will 2010 be special for El Tri and the Bolts?
Uruguay = Chicago Bears
In the old days, Uruguay was the end all soccer power, winning the World Cup twice in its first four incarnations. Today, their reputation and name recognition with fans around the world is about all they enjoy.
Chicago is a storied franchise who dominated the early days of the NFL but have had little to crow about since the AFL-NFL merger. Despite this, they are a big name in the league and will continue to be even if they don't rack up more titles anytime soon.
France = New England Patriots
The wounded giant in this World Cup, France has racked up a couple of embarrassing results against Tunisia and China just days away from the start of the competition. Four years ago, they made the final and 12 years ago they were kissing the Cup at home. Now they're old and their mystique is being brought into question.
Sound familiar? The Patriots suddenly have a chip on their shoulder going into the 2010 season, people are calling Tom Brady soft and the Jets are overshadowing New England as the team to watch in the AFC East.
Argentina = Indianapolis Colts
Flashy, talented but ultimately flawed when it comes to putting all together, Argentina is always a threat to take the Cup. This time around, their big star Lionel Messi is leading the charge with a familiar gripe being aimed at him: the claim that he's not a big-time player who can "win it all" with his national team.
Peyton Manning had to sift through similar criticism before hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Nigeria = Cincinnati Bengals
Nigeria have been a tour de force in the age-limited categories of international football for the past two decades. However, the full national team struggles on the biggest stage.
Cincinnati have had a knack for drafting or reclaiming young, talented projects who as of yet cannot bulldoze their way deep into the playoffs.
Korea Republic = Carolina Panthers
A forgotten team from the Far East who put together one good run eight years ago on home soil, but have now drifted into mediocrity.
With Kerry Collins and then Jake Delhomme at the helm, the Panthers have treated fans to a couple of token successes. At the moment, they lounge in the dregs of the NFC.
Greece = Baltimore Ravens
The Greeks are quite simply a one-dimensional squad who rely on their tactical order and defensive wall to frustrate opponents. Despite their great defense, their lack of offense has kept them off the radar.
Until recently, the Ravens were a one-dimensional club, who like Greece's 2004 Euro Cup victory, had captured one major championship (Super Bowl XXXIV) on the strength of their defense.
England = New York Giants
The spotlight is brightly shone on the English every two years at the Euro Cup and the World Cup with a healthy amount of agitators proclaiming them eventual victors despite a potential lack of talent.
In the Big Apple, both local and national media usually anoint the Giants as a constant threat to win it all despite glaring holes that the rest of the nation might notice.
United States = Arizona Cardinals
The Americans shocked the world at last year's Confederations Cup by beating up on title contenders Spain and pushing eventual champions Brazil to the brink, going on an unlikely run that is equally unlikely to continue this summer at the World Cup.
Arizona smashed through the 2008 playoffs on their way to an unexpected berth to the Super Bowl. Last season, the Cards tried it again - but they snuck up on nobody and went home earlier.
Algeria = St. Louis Rams
Welcome to the World Cup, Algeria. Have a good time. Hope to see you sometime in the future, don't let the door hit you on your way out.
Anybody expecting the Rams to play more than 16 games this season? Me neither.
Slovenia = Buffalo Bills
Slovenia might not make it to the next round of the World Cup, but they're no easy squad to beat, as teams will encounter beginning next week.
The Buffalo Bills have been constant underachievers for the better part of the decade, but they've made some big teams sweat it out from time to time.
Germany = Minnesota Vikings
The Germans are a well-oiled machine who play physical ball and usually rely on a wily veteran to put them through to where they need to go.
Last season, Minnesota relied on Brett Favre to get them closer to the Super Bowl than they've been in years, but just fell short. Expect for the same to happen to Germany without their captain Michael Ballack.
Australia = Miami Dolphins
No one really knows what they'll get from Australia. They're definitely under the radar, but they boast experience and overall solid play on every line, and could benefit from an uneven group to move on.
Miami surprised in 2008 after being utterly putrid just a season before. Then, injuries derailed them in 2009. A similar fate could befall Australia if Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell or Lucas Neill go down.
Serbia = San Francisco 49ers
The Serbs have an impressive collection of athletes who play in some of the world's best clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea, but don't have a clear difference maker who can put them through.
The 49ers are a young, talented squad who have multiple questions at arguably the most important position: quarterback. Should both of these teams find a steady leader, the results could be grand.
Ghana = Washington Redskins
A lot of big names litter the Ghana roster but their play as a team has always been underwhelming.
Washington has thrown gobs of money around at the league's most prominent free agents since Dan Snyder bought the team, without any championships to show for it.
Netherlands = New York Jets
The Dutch are always so talented, so flashy and so entertaining but ultimately break their fans hearts by failing to win the whole enchilada.
The Jets were great last season and built a steady army of believers that grew exponentially throughout the post-season before bowing to Indianapolis. Is this the year both teams put it together?
Denmark = Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Danes are a tough team who have too many holes in their lineup to make anyone worry about them. They will be a quick first-round exit.
Tampa Bay isn't going to wow anybody in 2010 as they are rebuilding for the future.
Japan = Seattle Seahawks
No one is going to mistake Japan as a threat to win the World Cup this summer, but they have some interesting pieces that will make them fun to watch.
With Pete Carroll at the helm, there will be more than a few eyes placed on the Seahawks going into this season.
Cameroon = Houston Texans
Cameroon's offense will be undoubtedly explosive with Pierre Webo and Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o hounding opposing penalty boxes, but questions start at the other end of the pitch for the Africans.
With Matt Schaub, Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson, is there any doubt that the Texans can put points on the board? If that defense comes together, the balance of power will be shifted in the league.
Italy = Pittsburgh Steelers
Most soccer fans don't enjoy watching Italy games, as they are painfully slow, unexciting for the sport and played to a metronome pace that could lull anyone to sleep. Despite this, Italy is great at what they do and their track record speaks for itself.
The Steelers are traditionally a run-first, grind it out team that keeps scores low and stifles even the most spectacular opponent, riding their strategy to multiple championships along their storied history.
Hey, it may not be pretty—but it works.
Paraguay = Philadelphia Eagles
Paraguay were trendy dark horses only a few months ago, but the tragic subtraction of star striker Salvador Cabañas now has observers wondering what the true reach of this team is going into South Africa.
Philly was a constant candidate behind star quarterback Donovan McNabb, but a trade sending him out of town makes people around the league question how good the Eagles can be in 2010.
New Zealand = Detroit Lions
The same thing can be heard by opponents of both teams when New Zealand and Detroit step out onto the field:
Who are these guys?
Slovakia = Kansas City Chiefs
No one expects much out of Slovakia, but the Eastern Europeans have a steady base of players plying their trade at the highest level who could very well sneak up on some bigger countries.
The Chiefs haven't had much luck out of the AFC West these past few seasons, but they've made it tough on their rivals, stealing games from Pittsburgh and Denver in 2009.
Brazil = Dallas Cowboys
Oh, the grandeur, the big names, the grainy film depicting a breadth of titles—you could be talking about either team in this situation.
Brazil is the end-all in the world of soccer, the gold standard to which every other country aspires. While Dallas has lost some of that luster in recent years, it's hard to argue with the mystique behind the team with the star on its helmet.
North Korea = Oakland Raiders
North Korea weren't expected to be good at this year's World Cup but they've evolved in a punchline in recent weeks, with a huge blunder in their roster listing a regular striker as a goalkeeper.
Oakland was once great, but they're not expected to be any time soon. As for the punchline? Well, you know the fans and the owner, right?
Ivory Coast = Atlanta Falcons
A flashy team with plenty of balance who despite this have not been able to transcend, the Ivory Coast will now have another hurdle to jump—their goalscorer Didier Drogba may be out for the Cup with an injury.
The Falcons' attack is prodigious and their defense is getting better, but they've yet to really contest the class of the NFC.
Portugal = Tennessee Titans
The Western Europeans boast arguably the world's most exciting player in Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid striker is reason enough to be glued to every single game that Portugal plays this summer.
Even if you don't like the Titans, you can watch Chris Johnson dash in and out of defenses all day, he is a bottle rocket who keeps every fan on the edge of his seat.
Spain = New Orleans Saints
Spain come into the World Cup having never won it, loaded to the brim with stars and a beautiful style of play that pleases even the most casual of observers. All eyes are on La Roja to see if they can finally get over the hump and win it all.
The situation mirrors New Orleans prior to the Super Bowl last season.
An immensely talented team with a great attitude and style going up and facing destiny. We know how the story panned out for the Saints... how about the Spanish?
Switzerland = Green Bay Packers
Not much to say about this one except the obvious parallels to milk and cheese between Wisconsin and the country identified with the Alps.
In terms of talent, the Packers shade the Swiss.
Chile = Denver Broncos
Chile are an interesting team with oodles of talent. They are led by a brash, cerebral manager (Marcelo Bielsa) who nonetheless owes much of his success to his past.
Sound familiar? Denver is led by Josh McDaniels, whose claim to fame is working under Bill Belichick.
Honduras = Jacksonville Jaguars
Honduras is probably off most people's minds when asked to name the three qualifying teams from the North American region for this World Cup.
Jacksonville is always the team left off of the trivia answer to the question: What are all the names of the Florida-based NFL teams?
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