Top 10 Facts Non-Soccer Fans Need to Know About the World Cup
1. The World Cup is like the Super Bowl or NBA Finals Championship of Soccer
The World Cup is the cream of the crop. Although players play for privately-owned teams within specific countries, such as Real Madrid or Barcelona, it is a different system compared to US sports, for example it happens every four years.
Players spend time throughout the year playing for these privately-owned teams and elite players spend time playing for their home or declared countries’ national team as part of the World Cup.
Competition and preparation for the World Cup happens way before the actual event occurs. These games and event, which is organized by FIFA (the Federation Internationale de Football Association) lead up to the ultimate prize, the FIFA World Cup trophy.
Imagine if NBA Olympics games mattered way more than the actual NBA Championship title, yep crazy huh?
2. The United States is in the “Group of Death”
Although the United States has been making good progress within the last couple of years, the group they are in will be a very difficult one. Besides having a tough match against Ghana, the United States will have to compete against Germany, which is ranked second in the world, but also Portugal, which is ranked fourth in the world. So, it will be very hard for the United States to even make it out of this group. But, we shall see how they do!
3. Soccer is Not Just About Kicking a Ball Around (Basic Rules)
To a non-soccer fan, the sport may seem like two teams with eleven players who are trying to shoot a ball into each others net. But there are more rules and concepts to soccer than just that.
- A yellow card is shown after a player commits a foul or misconduct, which is an unfair act deemed by the referee. If a player who received a yellow card is found guilty of committing another foul or misconduct, they may receive a red card, and they will be ejected from the game, forcing their team to play one man down the rest of the match. When a foul occurs, this can result in a free kick unless it is in the 18-yard box (which is the bigger box, not smaller box), which will result in a penalty kick.
-Throw-ins happen when the ball is hit out of bounds along one of the sidelines.
-Corner kicks happen if the ball was last touched by a defensive player or goal keeper and goes out on the line that has the goal net on it. (Vox)
-Formations: Soccer has different formations such as a 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-2-1, but instead of trying to understand that, understand that there will be four defenders trying to stop the other team from scoring, a bit of midfielders who help not only with defending but possessions for attacking and there is a specific number of forwards who’s main job is to score. Sometimes depending on how much a team is leading and etc, the formations can change throughout the game but if you understand that simple aspect, you are good.
Extra: If you are wondering what Cap means, for example U.S goalkeeper Tim Howard just received his 100th cap, that means Howard made is 100th appearance on the national team.
Here are some of the rules by Sports Illustrated in Tweet format:
You can use anything but your arms. Each team starts 11 players. Offside: passing w/o 2 players between you & goal. Yellow card: slap on wrist. Red card: player must leave game. Out of bounds: throw in. Foul = other team gets free kick. Foul in box = Penalty shot. 3 substitutions
(Click Image for Animated Version of Some Rules)
4. World Cup Matches Last 90 minutes
The World Cup matches last 90 minutes, with two 45-minute halves. The clock never stops, not for goals, injuries or timeouts. What the referees will do is add stoppage time to the end of the match as the result of any time that was used up for substitutions, goal celebrations, injuries, confrontation and etc.
If the game is tied after 90 minutes, it goes to a 30-minute overtime, which is extra time. This overtime is not a sudden-death, so if a team scores, the other team has a chance to score.
If the game is still tied, it will go to a penalty shootout. In a penalty shootout, the manager selects five players to take penalty shots at the goalie (keeper), one on one of course. If both teams are tied after five penalties apiece, each team takes one more penalty shot each until the tie is broken.
5. The Offside Concept is Not Too Hard to Understand
An offensive player is offside if he is in the attacking half of the field that is being defended by the opposing team, they do not have the ball and go beyond the second-farthest defender (including keeper). If this player is passed the ball while they are behind the defender, they are offside and the other team will receive a free kick. This rule is made so that a player does not just stand near the goal the entire game and ask for teammates to make a long pass to them so that they can just tap it in.
For more information on the offside rule, here is a video that although is old, can help you further understand it.
6. Many Consider Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain as the Top Four teams this Year
A European team has never won a World Cup in North or South America, which could be to the advantage of Brazil. However, even Las Vegas has it close amongst Brazil, Argentina and Germany, making it possible that a long time obstacle may be broken. However, if you are filling out a bracket, besides the fact that upsets could occur, these are some safe bets for everyone.
7. You Will Be Able to Watch the World Cup Games on TV Easily
As long as you have a television, you can watch the World Cup games. ESPN will be showing 43 games, ESPN2 will show 11 games and ABC will handle 10 World Cup games. Here are some of the TV schedules and here are the full schedule matches.
8. You May See Fancy Goals, but Not A lot in Individual Games
If you have no interest in soccer or do not understand it, you may have difficulty watching some games. When top teams go against each other, you may not see a whole lot of goals.
Usually more goal scoring happens during the qualifying stages but as we get closer to the championship game, it gets harder for teams.
BRAZIL VS. CROATIA Thursday, June 12, 4 pm ET, ESPN: Opening games are always a must, especially since it is the home team playing.
SPAIN VS. NETHERLANDS Friday, June 13, 3 pm ET, ESPN: This will be the first time the two finalists from the previous World Cup will play each other in their first group match in this year’s World Cup.
ITALY VS. ENGLAND, Saturday, June 14, 6 p.m. ESPN
GERMANY VS. PORTUGAL, Monday, June 16, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN: This very much so could be the best game in the first round.
UNITED STATES VS. GHANA Monday, June 16, 6 pm ET, ESPN: Ghana has defeated the United States at the last two World Cups and both teams are in the “Group of Death.” The USMNT will be coming into this game with a chip on their shoulder.
BELGIUM VS. ALGERIA, Tuesday, June 17, 12 p.m. ET: Out of the five African teams that advanced to the World Cup, Algeria poses the biggest threat. It is Algeria’s first World Cup appearance since 1980. Should be interesting to see how well they perform against Belgium’s defense.
ITALY VS. URUGUAY Tuesday, June 24, 12 noon ET, ESPN
9. Despite What We Are Used to Watching in American Sports, There are Ties in Soccer
Although many would want winners and losers during competition, in soccer there are ties. This makes it difficult for you to fill out your brackets because not only do you have wins and losses but must also account for ties.
10. Do Not Be Surprised If There Are Upsets
Sometimes the best team does not win and the lesser ranked team does. In soccer, hard work can overcome talent. It is possible for us to see some upsets during this year’s World Cup that may shock the world and people but, honestly, it is not entirely shocking.
Soccer provides many chances for teams, it is all about who takes a hold of the chances more than others.
Click Here for Fox Sports Greatest Upsets in World Cup History