For those of us pinko America-haters who drive Saabs and eat endive salads, one of the Summer's most thrilling sporting events beings this weekend when the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament kicks off in the dual host nations of Poland and Ukraine. Strap on your man Capris and pomade your hair back, because the next few weeks are sure to be (lingonberry) jam-packed with some of the best soccer played on this Euro-centric and once viciously colonized Earth.
For those of you who haven't a clue as to what I refer, hop down from your pickup trucks, unchew your tobacco, and stop engaging in unilateral diplomacy and global security efforts so you can pay attention to me for a minute.*
Where was I? Oh, yes, you, the American who doesn't appreciate how awesome this tournament is. Well let me tell you something, Uncle Sam, this tournament is only like the greatest international socc-- I mean, football/Fußball/футболу/fútbol tournament outside of the World Cup! It is where all of the top European national teams - which can be found here - compete to earn this thing.
So, now that I've piqued your interest, you're now wondering who it is you're to cheer for. Well the obvious answer is not-France, but for those of you looking for the European national team which best corresponds to the SEC team of your choice, look no further. Here they are, with the things that make them similar as well as the things which don't lend themselves to the upcoming comparisons all that well.
As always, supplement your own in the comments thread below.
Ole Miss : Germany
Similarities - I cheer for Germany. Neither can really live down their past, despite social progress made in recent decades.
Differences - Germany is really good at soccer, and has been for a long time. Germany has a lot of money.
Alabama : England
Similarities - They win a lot of matches and nobody likes them. They act as if they invented the sport (which, for England, is true-ish). Issues involving dental hygiene.
Differences -England is home to some of the greatest thinkers, writers, and artists the world has ever known. Alabama is home to Hank Williams.
[NOTE: As many of you have correctly pointed out, Ole Miss and Alabama should swap places here. If I were doing this to actually make sense of something, then you'd be right. This is for the lulz. Also, I'm a Germany fan, and I say we get to keep them. Deutschland über alles, Mutterficker.]
Florida : Italy
Similarities - Italy, as far as I am able to tell, is full of product-laden hair, tourists, traffic, balmy weather, and horrifyingly corrupt government institutions; it's a theme park away from being Orlando. Their soccer team is one of the world's more successful.
Differences - Most things in Italy were built before the 1950's.
Missouri : Denmark
Similarities - "Wait, Denmark's in Europe now? When did that happen?" Nobody really has strong feelings one way or another regarding the Danes or Denmark. Drugs.
Differences - Gary Pinkel is not a viking, nor does he aspire to be one.
South Carolina : Czech Republic
Similarities - The state of South Carolina and the Czech Republic were once part of a larger political entity, both separating to become something unto themselves. The Czech soccer team is pretty good, but not that good.
Differences - Czech people are notorious for being sexually attractive; South Carolinians are notorious for being sexually active.
Mississippi State : Ukraine
Similarities - If Ukraine, along with Poland, weren't a host nation, then it probably wouldn't be a part of this little tournament. This is not analogous with the other comparisons made herein. Just deal with it.
Differences - Chernobyl is a pretty neat place.
[NOTE: Almost went with Greece here, because Mississippi State is why we can't have nice things.]
LSU : Spain
Similarities - Defending champions**. Great food. Wanton drinking. You probably aren't going to cheer for them.
Differences - There's the whole French vs. Spanish thing, but the big difference here is that the Spanish are somewhat picky about what it is they'll ingest.
Arkansas : Portugal
Similarities - "Hey Portugal. Nice of you to join us. Just have a seat over there and we'll get to you in a minute." "Hey, remember that time we founded Brazil and stuff?" "That's nice, Portugal. That's nice."
Differences - Portugal isn't landlocked, meaning that escape from Portugal is possible.
Tennessee : The Netherlands
Similarites - The color scheme.
Differences - People actually want to travel to Amsterdam.
Georgia : France
Similarities - Both think of themselves as being much better than they actually are.
Differences - The French would gasp in horror at the sight of grown men in overalls barking like dogs. They'd also never be keen on Bulldogs - too saggy, too fat, too floppy, and definitely too friendly.
Vanderbilt : Ireland
Similarities - Neither has a shot in hell to win this thing. Ireland is as much a part of Europe as Vanderbilt is a part of the cultural and athletic fabric of the SEC. Sure, they're there and always have been, but contrast so sharply in culture and attitudes.
Differences - Ireland doesn't demand your respect; they've earned it through centuries of disenfranchisement and suffering, as well as through the literature of James Joyce. Vanderbilt, though, is a real nuisance about all of that. "Hey look at what US News has to say?!" "I don't wanna because I don't read things, you loser."
Texas A&M : Russia
Similarities - Both were once a part of a large, powerful union that has since crumbled, leaving behind mostly weak, dependent, undeveloped states. Both are gigantic. Both have shitloads of money. Both have a military tradition.
Differences - Nobody thinks Texas A&M could actually win the SEC.
Auburn : Poland
Similarities - Rarely has Poland had the gumption or fortitude to assert itself, and when it has, it has been largely punished by the powers that be for doing so. Neither is ashamed of committing bribery.
Differences - The Polish are charming.
Kentucky : Sweden
Similarities - Both are fond of the color blue. Both would rather be doing something else.
Differences - If someone ever asks you if you want "Kentucky meatballs with gravy," say no immediately.
*These are jokes, not political statements. If you can't see that, then this post is probably over your head anyway.