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With no USA involved, who should you root for in the World Cup?

The world's biggest sporting spectacle gets underway on Thursday.
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Billions of people around the world will start tuning in on Thursday for a month of soccer as the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia.

But after creating some happy memories in Brazil 2014, there will be no Team USA in this year's spectacle, much to the perennial pain of U.S. men's soccer fans.

The first game, the mouthwatering clash between the titans of Russia and the leviathans of Saudi Arabia, kicks off at 10 a.m. Central on Thursday – most of the tournament's games will be on FOX or FOX Sports 1.

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With no home nation to root for, here's who you should consider lending your support to over the next month.

Iceland

The neutrals' favorite, mainly because they are the smallest nation by population (334,000) to ever compete in a World Cup and as thus are the greatest underdogs in its history.

But they've also got some Minnesota links, again through ancestry but also because of its clap and chant, which the Minnesota Vikings turned into the "SKOL" chant after it became a sensation for Iceland at the 2016 European Championships.

Just bear in mind that since most neutrals are supporting Iceland, you run the risk of being accused of bandwagon jumping.

Germany

Almost 40 percent of Minnesotans are descended from Germans, so if you have any German in your blood they should be in the conversation.

They're a team greater than the sum of their parts, and while they're not as good as they were when they won in Brazil four years ago, they're still expected to be in the latter stages of the tournament.

Nigeria

They're already an underdog as no African team has even reached a World Cup semi final before, but you should also consider them because their uniform and team clothing is absolutely badass.

Egypt

For the same underdog reason above, but also because Egypt is the nation of Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool forward whose name is now being whispered as a potential heir to the "World's Best Player" crown currently fought over by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (Messi's better, FYI).

The hopes of a nation rest on his shoulders (one of which is currently injured) and more than that, he's a really nice, humble guy to boot – the antithesis of the preening Ronaldo.

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Peru

Argentina and Brazil get most of the plaudits in South America – as do Uruguay and Columbia, to a lesser extent – so why not support the 5th team to qualify from the continent?

It's the first time since 1982 that Peru has made it to the World Cup, and they did so in arguably the most difficult qualifying tournament in the world, beating out the more successful Chile in the process. 

No team

Hear me out. As a long-suffering England fan, I've reached a point of such cynicism that I harbor absolutely zero hopes whatsoever for them in any tournament of note.

It's remarkably liberating, and means I can enjoy the world's best footballers show off their talents without this permanent cloud of despair hanging over my head.

Mexico

Just kidding, lol...

That said, there will be plenty of Minnesotans of Mexican descent cheering for the USA's rivals, and they're actually a pretty damn good team, as much as it will pain some USMNT fans to admit it.

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