By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

Futbol is life. Beware the dreaded Group of Death. International soccer is nothing if not overwrought, more melodramatic than the cheesiest Univision telenovela. And that's without mentioning Andres "Gooooooooal!" Cantor.

As such, is it any wonder some World Cup hairdos are just a wee bit theatrical?

Think Carlos Valderrama's legendary Day-Glo 'fro.

Recall Ronaldo's epochal forehead merkin. In the World Cup, it's not enough to flash an ill-conceived Travis Bickle Mohawk, a la Clint Mathis in 2002.

Uh-uh. Better to color said mohawk blond, like the Czech Republic's Jan Polak, then add a matching mini-mullet.

Indeed, if the Cup is soccer's Everest, it's also the mountaintop of Bad Sports Hair -- a towering summit where dismal dye jobs are de rigeur, feathered dos remain fashionable and the only performance-enhancing substances used by Team Argentina appear to be extra-strength Rogaine and deep conditioning Pert Plus.

To put things another way: Stick male-pattern baldness poster boy Landon Donovan in the NBA, and his Fall of Saigon hairline would be mercilessly mocked; stick him on the U.S. national team, on the other hand, and his scalp is hardly worth mentioning. Not when Brazilian midfielder Emerson's patchy dome brings to mind a forest ravaged by acid rain.

Without further ado, Page 2 presents the Bad Sports Hair of World Cup '06, our very own Group of Follicular Death:

Zinedine Zidane, France
Style: Barren in the back, gleaming up top, a pointy peach-fuzz subcontinent in front. Which nicely matches his Miami Vice stubble. Très chic!

Status: Active. Well, except for 65 percent of his scalp.

Inspired by: Andre Agassi; Michael Jordan; anyone who has ever picked up a razor and decided to beat Mother Nature to the inevitable punch.

Fellow World Cup travelers: None, although the Ivory Coast's Arthur Boka is something of a Bizarro Zidane -- baby's bottom-smooth forehead, truly unfortunate middle-parted rear mullet. Yipes!

Resembles: A Romulan Bird of Prey; the Triangle-and-Two defense, as sketched on a bar napkin by Rick Majerus.

Fashion statement: Wait -- I'm supposed to rub the Rogaine on the top of my head, too?

Practical value: Forehead patch doubles as geometry teaching tool during guest appearances on French "Sesame Street."

For best results: Shave entire body. For consistency's sake.

Possible complications: In the manner of expanding ice caps, hairline continues unusual downward migration, terminating on tip of nose.

Andres Guardado, Mexico
Style: A classic man-perm, only longer. Man-perms are classic, right?

Status: Activated.

Inspired by: Sideshow Bob; the sort of music videos Beavis and Butt-Head made fun of; chemical plant explosions.

Fellow World Cup travelers: Argentina's Fabrico Coloccini; Spain's Carlos Puyol, whose noncurly version looks like a mop used to clean a septic tank; teammates Jose Antonio Castro and Gerardo Torrado, the latter of whom really does appear to have a classic Mike Brady man-perm.

Resembles: A winning entry in the Westminster Kennel Club competition.

Fashion statement: I know my way around a blow dryer. Fuse boxes, too.

Practical value: Goodbye, soccer; hello, fallback career in prop comedy!

For best results: Wash sparingly, the better to prevent rotator cuff strain.

Possible complications: Bird's nest in your hair -- and you don't even know it.

Jose Perlaza, Ecuador
Style: Short on top, stringy braids in back, a few wispy mini-braids up front.

Status: Actively leaking down Perlaza's forehead.

Inspired by: Loose yarn.

Fellow World Cup travelers: England's Rio Ferdinand, whose delicate, itsy-bitsy braids 'n' cornrows bring to mind baby snakes; Sweden's Christian Wilhelmsson, whose single, off-center rear braid is singularly dumb.

Resembles: A Predator-Homer Simpson mash-up.

Fashion statement: FOUR tiny braids on my forehead? Please. That would look preposterous!

Practical value: Neck stays warm, head stays cool. What's not to like?

For best results: Avoid mirrors, digital cameras, small children.

Possible complications: Pushy American diplomats threaten sanctions if you don't get a haircut.

Romaric, Ivory Coast
Style: Close-cropped blond dye job, sliced 'n' diced by asymmetrical stripes and grooves.

Status: Hyperactive.

Inspired by: Highway construction; used children's coloring books.

Fellow World Cup travelers: Not an exact match, but Serbia and Montenegro's Danijel Ljuboja's frosted-blond lighting stripes reside in the same Dada-istic ballpark.

Resembles: A Jackson Pollock canvas; a pictorial representation of attention deficit disorder.

Fashion statement: Sure, Christmas lights would have worked even better. But where am I supposed to plug them in?

Practical value: While mesmerized keeper ponders Magic Eye pattern on back of head, kick ball toward net. Goooooooal!

For best results: Tightly secure barber's blindfold.

Possible complications: M. Night Shyamalan, Mel Gibson make a boring movie about your head.

Santiago Canizares, Spain
Style: Bleached back-to-front combover-cum-mullet. Quite ingenious, really.

Status: Active until it falls out. Which could be any day now.

Inspired by: Hulk Hogan; Dr. Zaius; napalm.

Fellow World Cup travelers: Japan's Junichi Inamoto and Korea's Lee Chun Soo, both of whom at least have plenty of hair to flash-fry.

Resembles: A Q-Tip dipped in Jose Canseco's radioactive urine.

Fashion statement: Pay no attention to the bony, enormous Cro-Magnon brow behind the ratty neon-yellow curtain.

Practical value: When riding bicycle at night, reflective vest optional.

For best results: Don't bleach eyebrows. Now that would look a little goofy.

Possible complications: World Cup security mistakes hair for a thrown, lit flare. Ever been sprayed with fire-retardant foam? Not fun.

David Degen, Switzerland
Style: Finger-combed gel mound.

Status: Active, yet inert.

Inspired by: Jimmy Neutron, boy genius,

Fellow World Cup travelers: Czech midfielder David Jarolim, who manages the same trick despite a notable lack of comparable real estate.

Resembles: Cameron Diaz in "There's Something About Mary"; the dirt mound in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," only drenched in slime.

Fashion statement: If styling gel were a petroleum-based product, I would be far more concerned about Middle Eastern instability.

Practical value: Wet hair makes you look like a sweaty, hustling go-getter. Even when you spend the entire match on the bench.

For best results: Never wear a hat or skullcap. For that matter, never be in the same room as a hat or skullcap.

Possible complications: EPA declares your head a Superfund cleanup site.

Pavel Nedved, Czech Republic
Style: Industrial strength mop top.

Status: All too active. Just ask Team USA.

Inspired by: Prince Valiant.

Fellow World Cup travelers: Teammate Radoslav Kovac.

Resembles: The lustrous, flowing mane of World Cup mascot Goleo.

Fashion statement: By the power of Grayskull ... I have the power!

Practical value: Facial sunscreen optional.

For best results: Squint a lot, act bemused. Hey, it works for Owen Wilson.

Possible complications: You reach into your underwear for a grappling hook -- only to realize that you aren't, in fact, He-Man.

Diego Maradona, Argentina
Style: Thick 'n' curly. Sorta like armpit hair.

Status: Actively expanding, same as Maradona's waistline.

Inspired by: "CHiPs"-era Erik Estrada.

Fellow World Cup travelers: Too many to count. But Team Argentina is a good place to start.

Resembles: A department store wig; a semidry Jheri curl.

Fashion statement: Ha -- let's see Pele grow a pelt like this!

Practical value: Pushy autograph seekers are easy to avoid. Just put on a muumuu and pretend to be a middle-aged woman.

For best results: Combine with cocaine and food addictions. That way, you have an excuse for not finding a better stylist.

Possible complications: If not properly conditioned every 48 hours, hair might spontaneously combust.

Ricardo La Volpe, Mexican coach
Style: Demonic goatee.

Status: Active.

Inspired by: La Volpe's longtime Selleckian 'stache, which simply would not be contained. And might be some sort of evil symbiote.

Fellow World Cup travelers: Do they use Brillo pads to scrub the stadium seats?

Resembles: Neatly trimmed pubic hair.

Fashion statement: Pleased to meet you. Hope you guess my name.

Practical value: Goodbye, soccer; hello, second career as a villain in one of those cheesy Univision telenovelas!

For best results: Pair with a cigarette. During matches. Looks more nefarious that way. (Alternately, tie opposing player to train tracks, then cackle uncontrollably).

Possible complications: MLB clubs ask you to throw relief, even though your fastball tops out at 65 mph.

Loco, Angola
Style: Shaved scalp, front hairline braids.

Status: Active.

Inspired by: Nothing of this Earth.

Fellow World Cup travelers: None. Loco walks alone.

Resembles: A hair visor; a forehead beard; Ronaldo's merkin, but with braids.

Fashion statement: Dude -- my name is Loco. Were you expecting a crew cut?

Practical value: Wear to college graduation. Tassel no longer necessary.

For best results: Tightly secure barber's blindfold; tightly secure barber's LSD supply.

Possible complications: Pop superstars perform worldwide series of benefit concerts ... for your dome.

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Page 2 here.

Note: All photos from Getty Images.