Monday, June 9, 2014

The Basics of World Cup Soccer

I married into a soccer family.  I thought that I was from a soccer family.  I played from the time I was 10 on and my sister started at 6yrs old. I’d watched World Cup matches and even remember admiring Alexi Lalas and Kobe Jones as America’s hope in the 1990s.  
Alexi Lalas... On the field... the field
But my in-laws...they are real soccer fans.  Like, stay home from work, call each other after every qualifier and friendly and injury update sort of soccer fans.  Not to mention that they are astoundingly skilled player to boot (pun intended.)

Probably the only soccer fans I know who are more dedicated are my sister’s inlaws, who are Brazillian...enough said.  

I’ve assembled a who’s who/ what’s what for myself so I don’t sound like an idiot when watching with my husband and I though I’d share it for anyone who might also need a cheat sheet.  

1. Here is the countries who are playing.  They are divided into 8 groups labeled A-H .  America is in Group G which is also known as the “Group of Death” because both Portugal and Germany usually make it to at least the quarter finals, and Ghana is always a contender too.  

2. “The best soccer player on earth” can refer to any of the following four people:
-Pele- played for Brazil back in the day and is an icon/idol in the futball world.
-Diego Maradona- played for Argentina back in the day and then coached for them last world cup.  Is bat-sh!#$ crazy but some argue better than Pele.
-Christiano Ronaldo- Plays for Portugal and seems to me the Tom Brady of the International Soccer World.  Uggs commercials, supermodels, etc.  Except there is no way that Tom Brady is even close to as conceited as Ronaldo.  (Can you tell he is not my favorite)

-Lionel Messi (he is my favorite)- If you like an underdog you’ll love him.  At 5 foot almost 7 inches he is small, to say the least.  Which is due to a growth plate injury he had as a child.  Amazingly he grew as tall as he is and is faster than lightening (not literally).  The only problem...he plays for Argentina, the bitter political, cultural and athletic enemies of Brazil.  I want him to win...but I don’t want a war to be waged over it. (not kidding).

3. Brazil is the winningest country in the history of the world cup.   They are banking everything on a hometown win. They have tons of ridiculously talented players but the one name you MUST know is Neymar Jr. He is unreal and probably should be added to fact #2 Best players in the world.

4. No, Landon Donovan (probably the one US soccer player you have heard of) was not chosen for the World Cup team by US coach Klinnsmen (Winner of the world cup with Germany in the 1990s...wait, what?!)  I know it’s strange.  I’m not a Donovan fan, I prefer Clint Dempsey to be our poster boy but it is a point of heated controversy and will undoubtedly be beat like a dead horse by the announcers.  

5. The games are called “matches,” the field is called “pitch”, the teams are called “sides.” Oh yeah and the sport, it’s called Football.  

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