World Cup 2014: Comedian Andy Zaltzman presents his neutral's guide to Group C

Not sure who to back at this summer's footballing festivities? Fear not, Britain's best sporting comic has the answer

COLOMBIA

Coffee-loving football fans will be shaking their espresso pots for Colombia, who are comfortably the finest coffee producers in Group C. This accolade is highlighted by the fact that humble coffee farmer Juan Valdez is described by Wikipedia as an "icon for Colombia", and has achieved his national hero status despite being (a) a humble coffee farmer, and (b) fictitious. He is, in fact, not so much a humble coffee farmer as an advertising logo.

Once renowned for their flamboyant football, hair and goalkeepers, Colombia is appearing in its first World Cup this millennium, and will be looking to the brilliant but injured Radamel Falcao to guide them to their first-ever quarter-final. The regular 35-goals-a-season striker joined Monaco from Atlético Madrid last summer, entirely for footballing reasons. Monaco's tax laws and an eye-watering, wallet-rupturing, abacus-smashing salary were, of course, incidental.

The real attraction was playing in a small, half-empty stadium in front of around 8,500 fans a week. "I've always loved small, half-empty stadiums," he gushes frequently to anyone who will listen, and recently admitted that he had been on the verge of joining Barnsley, only to be put off by the fact that their average crowd had crept over the crucial 10,000 mark. "That's too much for me," wept the lethal penalty box marksman who could have signed for any club to play in any stadium. "Monaco it is."

NSR: 65%

GREECE

Greece, not undeservedly, won the 2004 European Championship with football that was tactically sophisticated/unremittingly negative (delete according to whether or not you are trying to impress someone with your superior understanding of the strategic nuances of the great game). The Greeks may been world-changing pioneers in democracy, the arts, philosophy, and oiled-up naked wrestling, but those achievements pale into insignificance when set against the pall they cast over football with their Grim Grind To Glory campaign 10 years ago. They need no more success.

NSR: 2%

Andy Zaltzman’s guide to Group A
Andy Zaltzman’s guide to Group B
Andy Zaltzman’s guide to Group C
Andy Zaltzman’s guide to Group D
Andy Zaltzman’s guide to Group E
Andy Zaltzman’s guide to Group F
Andy Zaltzman’s guide to Group G
Andy Zaltzman’s guide to Group H

IVORY COAST

Ivory Coast anti-boast the lowest GDP per capita of any of the 32 competing nations, coming a disappointing 148th out of 180 listed countries, according to a combination of The World Bank and Wikipedia (two uneasy factual bedfellows). Economists claim that, without Didier Drogba, the Ivorians would be in the bottom 10. This is a nation that could clearly do with a footballing perk-up, and World Cups always need a team to break the Europeo-South-American hegemony.

NSR: 81%

JAPAN

Japan are one of the teams who have benefitted most from the expansion to 32 teams in 1998, qualifying for every tournament since, but doing little of interest, to such an extent that legal proceedings are underway to change their national slogan from 'Land of the Rising Sun' to 'Land of the Competent But Unremarkable Football'. Unlikely to attract support from whale-loving neutrals, due to a continuing predilection for hunting the celebrity aquatic megamammals for 'research purposes'. This 'research' is, reportedly, into scientifically imperative questions such as: what happens when you shoot a harpoon at a whale? Can whales still swim after they are dead? If you chase a whale with a large boat, does it become a shark? And how much soy sauce do you need with a perfectly-cooked whale steak?

NSR: 14%

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower