Couchant versus rampant

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According to the BBC, a Bavarian company producing the mascot for the upcoming football World Cup has gone bankrupt, with reports saying demand for the product - a lion named 'Goleo' dressed in football gear - has been weak. The BBC speculated in an article recently that the lion as symbol had little relevance in Germany (which favours the eagle) but pointed out that three lions were the symbol of Germany's traditional football rivals, England. But England is not the only country in the competition with the lion as its symbol. The Czech Republic also has one: a rampant silver fellow on a red field with not one - but two - tails.

Neat! His history goes all the way back to the 12th century.

Could England's couchant - that is, lying down or crouching - cats at the World Cup face the Czechs' rampant kitty?

I say it could happen.

I tried to predict just such a match using FIFA's Predictor on the Internet but with little success because my computer didn't like the macros. Or something. I'm not a computer person. Or, rather I'm not a technically-inclined computer person, although I use one everyday. So, I just made it up. And I say that it is obvious that England will face the Czech Republic in the semi-final.

Take that as a given.

Here's what we can expect from the game:

First, the mascot's value will immediately go up. Goleo - is that really a fortunate name, by the way, that combination of goal and leo? Or is it 'Go Leo!' Or both? Either way, he will suddenly become the must-have item of the tournament as the Czech and English players face each other on the field.

A streaker, perhaps inspired by the fact that Goleo is actually naked from the waist down, will run across the field in the game's opening minute. Assuming that it is a she, she will have trouble deciding who to hug first: Pavel Nedved or David Beckham, as German officials chase her around the pitch. In the end, she will instead throw herself into the Czech net.

She will not be caught by the keeper.

But, it will be the only thing Petr Cech doesn't catch that night.

The Czechs will have chances in the first 45 minutes, but they'll miss. At the same time, England won't score either. It will be intense.

England 0 Czech Republic 0 first half.

As for the 2nd:

Baros will hit the post. Koller will hit the crossbar and Nedved will hit the back of the net. But his goal won't count. I'm not sure why.

For the English, Beckham too will be brilliant - as well as well-shaven - but will be let down by everyone else.

Is it too cheeky of me to predict that the whole thing will come down to penalties?

This is my dream match. No matter which team wins, poor Goleo the mascot will be redeemed and begin to sell like hotcakes - and you know how fast those go! In the end the Bavarian toymaker will be saved from insolvency and thank its lucky stars that organisers chose a half-naked lion and not the stuffed eagle to represent the World Cup.

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PS On a serious note, the Czech Republic is of course considered a dark horse in the tournament - in an amazing 2nd place in the FIFA official rankings, 2nd only to Brazil, the Czechs will have to fight for a place in additional rounds and it will be tough. It will also be the last chance for the one of the best generations of Czech players like Nedved and Poborsky - though actually their first appearance in the tournament. For that reason alone the Czech team should be exciting to watch.