CrikeySports_markThe FIFA World Cup has started and I think I’m going crazy with all the AFL and football I am watching. Add a bit of State of Origin and the NBA finals and I feel like I’m on some sort of mescaline induced Hunter S Thompson sports trip.

The question I am forced to ask myself is would I choose a game of AFL over a game a World Cup match? And what would happen if vuvuzelas were used at the footy? If Port Adelaide fans used them would anyone notice? Could Ben Cousins coach Argentina? Could Diego Maradona coach West Coast? Is Collingwood the North Korea of the AFL? Did Pim Verbeek steal Neil Craig’s coaching secrets? And why is the work experience kid looking at me?

All good questions. Questions I’ll probably never get answered.

Hawthorn vs. Essendon — 7.40pm Friday June 18, MCG

Who doesn’t like watching these two teams play each other? To keep the keep the World Cup puns rolling, it’s like England vs. Argentina. Two bitter rivals who hate each other. When these teams met earlier in the season the Bombers made the Hawks look second rate. I doubt Hawthorn will allow Essendon to get the better of them again.

For the Hawks, Brendan Whitecross and Carl Peterson make way for Clinton Young and Chance Bateman. Cale Hooker returns for the Bombers — which significantly strengthens their back line.

This is such a big game for both teams. And their supporters. The Hawks are finding form with Rioli and Franklin joining Luke Hodge as players who are tearing the competition up at the moment. It’s a much more even spread at Windy Hill and if the Essendon midfield breaks even or wins, then that goes along way to the Bombers winning. Stanton and Watson need to have good games.

I’m picking the Hawks, because redemption’s a bitch.

Hawthorn by 31

Carlton vs. Fremantle — 7.10pm Saturday June 19, Etihad Stadium

This match should be a cracker.

Both teams had a chance to consolidate a top four position last week. And both teams failed to do so. Both teams are wounded and will be desperate for this win.

For Carlton, they will be buoyed by the return of Lachlan Henderson, Chris Yarran, Paul Bower and Kane Lucas (the last three being West Aussies). There’s a lot of class throughout this Blues team and they should make Fremantle pay by foot if the Dockers turn it over to the likes of Judd, Gibbs and Murphy.

For Fremantle, once again, Sandilands and Pavlich are the key. If Carlton can shut them out of the game and their running players mentioned above can control the idfield then Fremantle will find it too hard.

This is a hard game to pick. Even with my Fremantle love obscuring me.

Sadly, I think Carlton will be too strong here and Freo are still missing too many key players who are sidelined due to injury. And a big well done to Paul Hasleby who plays his 200th game on Satrurday. His number 4 was the first number I put on my Freo jersey back in 2000.

Blues by 1

Brisbane vs. Richmond — 7.10pm Saturday June 19, Gabba

According to Animal Kingdom a lion can beat a tiger:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_PHs-kbypo[/youtube]

Dammit. How can I argue with a CGI fight?

Lions by 12

North Melbourne vs. Port — 1.10pm Sunday June 20, Etihad Stadium

God you’d hate to be a North Melbourne bean counter this week. North deserve a large crowd to watch this match considering last Friday night’s heroics — Lindsay Thomas’ game was was one of the most enjoyable individual performances I have watched in years — but against an out of form, poorly supported Port Adelaide, that won’t happen.

As good as Thomas was last week, what also stood out for me for North Melbourne was the hunger and pride their players (especially their kids) had for the contest and their team mates. Coach Brad Scott is doing all the right things.

Port are a rabble. Power fans are disenchanted at the selections and structures each week. It’s hard to see how they can win this.

Kangaroos by 50

West Coast vs. Western Bulldogs — 2.40pm Sunday June 20, Subiaco Oval

West Coast are paying, like, $3.30 for a win. It should be $333.25. They have no chance.

Coach John Worsfold in the sights of disgruntled fans, a tabloid Western Australian media and  a nervous administration. He needs his kids to step up for him to keep his job. Debutants Koby Stevens and Andrew Strijk are the future hope for the Eagles. It’s good to see them get some game time now that the Eagles’ season is shot.

What will be hard for West Coast is stopping Barry Hall. He was superb for the Doggies last week with over 10 marks inside the fifty. When he’s on, he’s menacing — and he’ll love the opportunity to carve up a young West Coast defence. Doggies fans would be praying that Andrew Embley doesn’t do his usual and play a blinder against them — however on his present form that would be unlikely.

The Doggies owe the Eagles for their upset win late last year at Etihad.

Western Bulldogs by 40