You might have noticed an abundance of soccer jerseys and painted faces around town. Maybe even seen best friends become bitter rivals. Don’t be alarmed–it’s just the FIFA World Cup. Here are a few things you need to know to get up to speed on the World Cup.
1. The World Cup Is Soccer’s Biggest Stage
Every four years, national soccer (or futbol) teams gather in a centralized location and play for the World Cup. This year it’s being held in 12 different stadiums in Brazil. For many this event is the greatest thing since sliced bread and soccer is their religion. Spain is the defending champ and also one of the favorites (along with Brazil).
2. It’s Divided Into 32 Teams and 4 Groups
The World Cup has two stages. In the first stage, 32 teams are divided into four groups. Each team plays the three other teams in its group. A win counts as three points, a draw as one point and a loss as no points. The two teams with the most points from each group advance.
The remaining 16 teams move on to the second stage on June 28. This is the knockout stage as each match is single elimination. Matches cannot end in a draw. Instead there is overtime and then a shootout to determine the winner. The championship will be held July 13.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo–Possibly the World’s Best Player–Might Be Injured
One of the most popular faces in soccer is Cristiano Ronaldo, who currently plays for Portugal. June 16 is Portugal’s first match against Germany. If Ronaldo is healthy–as he’s been struggling with tendinitis–then he will provide much needed eye candy and more viewers.
4. The U.S. Men’s National Team Is in the Group of Death
The most difficult group in the World Cup is labeled the Group of Death. This year, the U.S. Men’s National Team is in that group, alongside Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Ghana has knocked the US out of the competition in the past, and Portugal and Germany are ranked fourth and second in the world, respectively. To top it off, the US will be playing without their lead scorer, Landon Donovan.
Now that you have some World Cup knowledge, throw on your red, white and blue and cheer on your team. Ole!
Before you shop: You can watch 64 World Cup matches on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC and keep up with the schedule and scores at FIFA.com. This quick video also explains the soccer tournament in less than two minutes for those of you on the run!