Pictured below: Winner, Worst Possible Way to End a Stellar Career

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So sad. Zidane, we know he pinched your nipple and called your sister the whore who is also your mother, but why oh why in the final minutes of your remarkable career as France’s most stylish striker did you decide to settle the matter with the top of your bald head? With a single bad decision, you downgraded yourself from international hero to cautionary tale. Best wishes on salvaging your reputation.  Maybe start with a tearful apology? Works for some people.

Remember the mantail from early first round action? It got worse:

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That’s him on the right with the man-mane pulled into a half bun. To make matters even more frustrating, after Italy eked out their win against France today, the players called for a folding chair to be brought onto the field. In the midst of their child-like hyperactive celebrations, they forced Camoranesi to sit down and chopped off the offending appendage. But they only took the part that formed the actual ponytail (take it all off I say!) and then they tossed it around in the air between like a hairy hot potato. Ewww!

After ten pages on folksonomic metadata in 7 hours, my brain is tired. Still, it doesn't take much a brain to know which way to call it when Thierry Henry scores France's first World Cup goal since 1998:

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Our deuxiéme hottie oficiel!

Thierry, I'm married, but if I weren't, you could break my dry spell any day.

Okay, there are plenty of other places to read about the horror that is Jorge Larrionda so I won't go into any more detail than this:

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Today was a wild, wonderful, and often traumatic day of World Cup action in Group E. Now that my blood pressure has started to return to normal I can look back over the past few hours and rejoice that my country has, if not exactly triumphed, earned its berth in a group that promised great contests. When the original draw was done, things looked pretty bleak for us but we could take comfort in the fact that many looked to the grouping of Italy, the Czech Republic, Ghana, and the US as the toughest bracket to play in. That's a small sign of respect in a world where few would give it to us.

After the first matches, it looked like rumors of the Group of Death had been greatly exaggerated. Favorites Czech Republic and Italy won handily, with the US showing against the Czechs particularly miserable. Back to reality. Back to toiling in obscurity for four more years to earn another chance to get laughed off the international stage.

Today, all that changed. The US and Ghana were expected to lose again and the Czech Republic and Italy were expected to seal the deal on advancing to the second round.  In both cases, denied! Ghana started the day off right with smart, efficient and enthusastic play that generated lots of opportunities at goal and thwarted the efforts of the Czech Republic.  If they didn't have to play my countrymen next, I'd be cheering for them after a performance like that. Then, the US took the field and used their guts and every last calorie they had carbo loaded to hold Italy to a 1-1 draw while playing a man down for the entire second half. I loved watching them dig and dig and keep their chins up and shots headed at the Italian net. So a group that looked like a done deal became a group where literally anything can still happen.  Any of these teams could still advance. If that's not the definition of the group of death… well, I might not what is anyway, seeing as this is only my second World Cup as an impassioned fan. 

My advice for my countrymen is inspired by this heart-warming NYT article about a class full of immigrant kids putting on a production of the Wizard of Oz: go to the Wizard!  Get some extra heart, brains, legs, players without red cards, whatever it takes! Just get it!  Play the game I and all the other American fans know you can play on Thursday! I'll be cheering, with pride. 

The Czech Republic = ugly all day long. Case in point Pavel Nedved:

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This guy looks like what would happen if Bjorn Borg's and Owen Wilson's faces got into a car accident with each other. Sorry Neddy, two not hot's do not make a hot. And not even your supposedly legendary footwork could keep your team from getting the 2-nil drubbing you so richly deserved. Go Ghana… just don't beat the US.

Also, Ramen of the Iranian team is off the All-World Hotties team. One of his teammates kicked Figo in the face. Thuggish behavior with spikes gets a big not hot from yours truly.

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My nose is still running a lot harder than Ronaldo was during the Brazil-Croatia game today, so I shall continue the series with our first official hottie. For once, the thumbnail size of this picture is not going to do justice:

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Kaká!

No unfortunate hair on head or face, pleasant smile, and plenty of skills. Having nothing but Christian Rock on your iPod, questionable, but scoring the winning goal for your team, always h-o-t. But sorry ladies and gentlemen, this 24 year old striker is married.

My brain is fuzzy from antihistamines and sad from the 3-0 disgrace my countrymen suffered at the hands of the aestethically challenged Czech's, so I am resorting to another hot or not entry.

Today's topic: the mantail. Hot or not?

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Hot… on a chic!! So not on a shirtless Italian footballer with tattoos.

I did get to see this silky mantail in action today, and if I spoke Italian I would ask this guy what products he uses because it was quite the shiny, snarl-free mane. Wait, strike that. He probably doesn't use any products, he just hasn't showered in a month. Not hot!