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Whether you love it or hate it, the World Cup is upon us once again. London, being the international city it is, allows fans from all nations to watch their team fight it out for the trophy in Brazil this summer (12 Jun-13 Jul).
Here I’ve picked the top 10 sides in the betting for the tournament and a venue in which to watch them.
With time difference being an issue this year you may encounter some tricky viewing experiences. Our advice? Embrace the chaos: enjoy champagne at 2am while watching France, have a midnight steak while watching Argentina, and if you can stomach watching England, at least you know there’s always an all-day breakfast somewhere for you.
And as everyone likes a big outdoor screen, head over to Exchange Square in The City for the Broadgate Summer of Sport, which includes free screenings of everything from the World Cup to Wimbledon, the Tour de France and more.
Brazil – Sushisamba
For spectacular views, and a dash of samba spirit in The City, head over to Japanese/Brazilian restaurant Sushisamba for a month-long Mundial party. The restaurant is housed on the 28th floor of the Salesforce tower (formerly the Heron Tower) and will be putting games on the big screen, as well as special menus, cocktails and giveaways.
Player to Watch: Barcelona playmaker Neymar will have the weight of a nation’s hopes on his narrow shoulders, can he light up the tournament?
Argentina – Gaucho steakhouses
Gaucho has 11 steak houses in London alone, and is offering a special £35 menu for the 5pm and 11pm matches, which will include Gaucho burgers, steak ciabatta and a selection of empanadas. It doesn’t get much better than sitting back with a rib-eye and a glass of Malbec to watch the world’s finest player Lionel Messi dazzle on the big screen.
Player to Watch: The aforementioned little Barcelona genius
They may be the oldest footballing enemy we have, and let’s hope it doesn’t go to penalties, but the Germans do cater towards watching football well. Herman Ze German’s Soho restaurant and Zeitgeist in Vauxhall both serve great wursts and steins of German beer. What more do you want?
Player to Watch: Arsenal favourite Mesut Ozil will want to catch the eye in Brazil
Spain – Bradley’s Spanish Bar
This is often seen as a hidden gem in London, but don’t expect that during the World Cup as La Roja fans will spill out into the narrow alleyway, tucked away just off Oxford Street.
Player to Watch: Diego Costa may be on his way to Chelsea in the summer, and the big, troublesome Brazilian-born striker will lead the line for the world champions for the first time
France – Le Pot Lyonnaise
This small French-run bar and restaurant in Battersea shows Ligue 1 games throughout the season, so expect French fans and the well-heeled residents of Battersea to descend upon it for the World Cup.
Player to Watch: Paul Pogba is the hottest young midfield property in the world right now
Belgium – The Lowlander
This pub may be more Dutch than Belgian, but with a huge selection of Belgian beers on offer this is a great place to watch the much-fancied young Red Devils team.
Player to watch: Chelsea’s fleet-footed and chin-strap bearded winger Eden Hazard
Soho is the place to go for Italian flair. Italia Uno in Goodge Street comes with a good reputation for Serie A matches, so expect a good atmosphere. Elsewhere, Bar Italia should prove a magnet for Italian fans, especially when they play England on 14 June.
Player to Watch: The always entertaining, often frustrating, bad boy Mario Balotelli
Netherlands – De Hems
Yep, London’s rowdiest Dutch pub is located in the heart of Chinatown. The garishly dressed fans of the Oranje will be overflowing onto the streets during games, so get down early.
Player to Watch: Manchester United’s mercurial striker Robin Van Persie
Portugal – Estrela Bar
This is probably the best spot in Little Portugal, based around the Stockwell area of South London, to catch Cristiano Ronaldo and co. take on the world’s best sides. The commentary will likely come direct from Portuguese TV and expect some of the most passionate fans in Europe. Don’t blame us, Nandos probably aren’t showing the games!
Player to Watch: Who else? Cristiano Ronaldo is a phenomenon
England – Anywhere and everywhere
It doesn’t really matter where you watch England this summer. Hundreds of pubs, restaurants and cafés will be showing the game, whether it’s a big sports bar like Rileys, or a smaller London pub, the atmosphere will be the same: a heady mix of self-deprecating optimism.
Or, for a bit of everything, Grand Union bars are offering themed burgers from 11 of the competing nations.
Player to Watch: Liverpool teenager Raheem Sterling is England’s most exciting attacking prospect in years
Where will you be watching your team? Give us your favoured venues in the comments section below.
More Sport in London.