The Italians always look pretty good when they hit the field of play. From right back in the times of the Roman Army - all of them marching in neat lines, linking their shields together, nice red tunics, helmets glinting in the sun. And then their more modern uniforms, all glitz and glamour, feathers and medals. A great sight. It is just a shame that their proud history of looking good and fighting well has been replaced by a new doctrine which involves looking good, fighting badly and needing help from the Germans. It all started so well for them. A Roman Empire which spanned much of the known world, a legendary fighting force, the likes of Scipio and Julius Caesar. Hell they even got Shakespeare to write plays about their wars. Now that is good marketing. Even after the fall of the Roman Empire, you still have notable input from the likes of the Condottiere - and Garibaldi, who was so good they named a biscuit after him. But what a disaster after that. Ethiopia was a bit of a mess, World War II was a disaster, and since then Italy have dropped off the international stage.
WAR 155 Condottiere
GNM The Roman Army
FOR 45 German Defences in Italy
CMD 4 Julius Caesar
Another country to get involved in that South American squabble The War of the Triple Alliance, Paraguay decided to back Uruguay. Maybe because they are obviously related somehow - maybe remote cousins from the 'Guay' family (no relation to Guam). To be fair to them, the Paraguayans were pretty plucky. When they got involved their entire population (450,000 men) was smaller than the Brazilian National Guard. Following a bit of a spanking, Paraguay found themselves being drawn into a war with another one of her neighbours - Bolivia, in what was to be known as the Chaco War.
We don't have any books covering the Chaco War - though we are looking into doing one, because you keep on asking for one, but if you are into South American history you should try out
GNM: Conquer or Die: Wellington's Veterans and the Liberation of the New World
Before every rugby match the New Zealand 'All Blacks' do the haka, a traditional Maori war dance. Thats right, before each match they essentially declare war on their opponents. I was kind of hoping that their football team would follow suit, but being stuck with the nickname the 'All Whites' maybe it wouldn't suit them. Speaking of which, I am rather surprised the PR men who work for the New Zealanders didn't suggest a nick name change. The 'All Whites' in a country still recovering from apartheid? Smooth! Luckily for New Zealand, in this military world cup they stand a much better chance of progressing than in the football world cup. Basically any war that the Aussies took part in, New Zealand decided to tag along. New Zealand troops helped out in all of those messy colonial wars, and backed Britain in both World Wars. As with the Australians, New Zealand forces quickly developed a great reputation in the military world. The large Maori population of New Zealand adds a little bit of steel - the Maoris gave the English a bit of a fight for their country, and they are still an awesome sight today. Thankfully only on the sporting field though.
Fortress 81 Maori Fortifications
MAA 224 Queen Victoria's Enemies (4)
ELI 103 Vietnam ANZACs
Another country that has seen fit to cast aside its usual footballing partner the Czech Republic - the seemingly perpetual tournament dark horses. Another nation that has only 'officially' emerged out of the mess and the chaos following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union, Slovakia has a mixed military pedigree. At various points the geographical area of Slovakia has been annexed by different nations and empires, Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it even existed as a puppet state under the Nazis. Slovakia seems set to struggle this time round.
ELI 10 Warsaw Pact Ground Forces
Group Winners: Italy stroll to the top of their group, thanks to their victorious Legions, tactics and weaponry. Not even Mussolini can wipe out the memory of the Roman Empire.
Wow, a close run thing this time round - Paraguay looked like the might have nipped in to steal it, but the runners up spot goes to New Zealand. Such a plucky little island. They deserve some recognition.