The 2018 FIFA World Cup is here! And if you're not a soccer fan, or if you only pay attention to soccer every four years, here's a primer on how to get the most out of the game.
Step One: Learn The Game
If you don't already understand soccer, here's a companion Inquisitr report to give you the most basic of basic basics. Failing that, there are hundreds of YouTube videos explaining the Beautiful Game, and if all else fails, there's always the library. But seriously, just check out the Inquisitr article. Everything you need to know is in there (although to be clear, that article leaves out libraries' worth of subtlety, nuance, and minutiae).
Step Two: Pick A Team
When the World Cup rolls around, picking a team is easy: America, HELL YEAH! Except for the fact that, this year, the USA isn't competing. So whom should you root for this year? Well, that will have to be up to you, the reader. Do you have ancestry from any of the countries competing? Perhaps a personal connection, like you went there on your honeymoon? Failing that, you could always root, root, root for the home team, like the old song suggests, although considering the animus between the USA and Russia these days, maybe rooting for host Russia isn't the best idea.
Here's who's playing:
Group A: Russia (host), Saudia Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group B: Morocco, Iran, Portugal, Spain
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Group E: Costa Rica, Serbia, Brazil, Switzerland
Group F: Sweden, South Korea, Germany, Mexico
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Group H: Colombia, Japan, Poland, Senegal
For no other reason than Why Not? this writer is rooting for England. They're neither the heavy favorites (that's Argentina or Germany, depending on whom you ask) nor are they expected to stink it up.
Step 3: Don't Watch The Ball
It may seem counter-intuitive, but in soccer, you don't always want to watch the ball. Instead, says New Yorker writer Matt Diffee, watch around and ahead of the ball. Look for other players who are open, who could receive the ball from a pass and make a play at the goal. Look for open space in front of the man who has the ball.
"Soccer is a complex, ever-flowing chess game with running."
The soccer team will be filled with all manner of players: from amateurs and minor-leaguers who may be getting their one and only chance to play at this level to multi-millionaires who play before sellout crowds back home. Some came from the slums of Dakar, others from the suburbs of London. Some are barely out of (or still in) their teens, others are at the tail end of long careers.
Just take it all in, says Diffee.
"Almost everything you're seeing these players do... has taken hours and hours, even years, to perfect. It's like watching a constant stream of magic tricks. Enjoy that. Clap right there on the couch if you want to. That's what I do."