My friend Josh once told me, "Hey, man. If you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly bear." So I guess if I'm going to get World Cup predictions wrong, I may as well get them catastrophically wrong.
Author's note to the internet trolls: Yes, I'm aware that's a spectacled bear, not a grizzly. We're surprisingly bereft of bear images for a food and Ursidae (Google) magazine. Forgive my indiscretion.
I was tempted to make a Friday the 13th/full moon far-fetched score prediction of the Spain-Netherlands game in which I picked the Dutch to take the Spaniards behind the wooden shoe toolshed, but, like a paper airplane in a scissor factory, I played it safe. In my defense, few, if any, experts would've predicted the defending World Cup champs getting crushed 5-1 by Clockwork Orange.
(And in case you missed it, Netherlands captain Robin Van Persie had possibly the goal of the whole tournament.)
C'est la vie. Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery. I'll now attempt to totally redeem myself and get my predictions back above .500. Wish me luck. Gulp.
Match to Watch: Italy vs. England
Insert Churchill vs. Mussolini cracks here. This is sure to be an incredible match between two of Europe's best teams. Italy will be looking to replicate their success at the 2006 World Cup Final in Berlin, where the Azzurri beat France on penalty kicks to claim the title as world's best—and Zinedine Zidane made a strong case for FIFA to implement chest protectors. On paper, these teams should be pretty evenly matched. England has a squad full of promising young players and a desire to right past World Cup wrongs. Italy has a pedigree (4 Cup titles) and a timeless goalkeeper who's been here and won it before. I like Italy in this game, but it could go either way. My Pick: Italy 2, England 1
Player to Watch: Andrea Pirlo
Soccer players are supposed to be on the downslope of their careers in their mid-30s, but don't tell that to L'Architetto (The Architect). His long passes are deadly accurate, and he's arguably one of the greatest of all time when it comes to free kicks. Pirlo has won every title you can win in soccer, and he shows no signs of slowing down despite his age (35). He's the lynchpin of this Italian side, and as he goes, so do Italy's aspirations of World Cup glory.
Match Day Dish: Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca (Italy)
Traditionally made with veal, our saltimbocca (which means "jump in the mouth") recipe instead utilizes the universally beloved chicken, because a) it's easy to find, and b) you don't have to sell a kidney to afford it. This dish is ridiculously easy to prepare—ready in just 15 minutes. The lemon sauce is light, bright, and finger-licking good. Enjoy this chicken with a nice glass of Italian white, and toast to more incredible World Cup action to come. And don't forget to send in your recipe photos for our Instagram contest (details here)! Cheers.
Hands-on Time: 15 min. Total Time: 15 min.
- 4 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- 2 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 8 thin strips
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- Lemon wedges (optional)
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan; cook for 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.
3. Combine broth, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture and the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil to pan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Spoon sauce over chicken. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.