Have you noticed lots of people wearing brightly colored sports shirts recently? Hear your neighbors screaming passionately at their TV? Are your colleagues jumping out of their seats at inopportune moments? These are all common symptoms of World Cup fever.
Want to join in on the World Cup fun, but don't know your Ronaldo from your Messi? We've put together a simple guide to help you out.
What is the World Cup?
The World Cup is the most watched sporting event on the planet. Every four years the best 32 soccer teams compete in the month long tournament to determine the world champion. In 2014, according to FIFA, the World Cup reached a "global in-home television audience of 3.2 billion people."
Where is the World Cup being held?
The World Cup is being hosted by Russia. Matches are being held in cities around the country from Moscow and St. Petersberg, to Sochi and Volgograd. On the eve of the tournament, the U.S. won the right to host the World Cup in 2026 alongside Mexico and Canada. An expanded 48 team tournament will see 60 games in the U.S.
How can you watch the World Cup?
Fox has the rights to broadcast the World Cup in the U.S. The games can be seen on Fox, Fox Sports 1. Telemundo and NC Universo are also showing the games, with Spanish commentary of course. The games can also be streamed via FoxSports.com and TelemundoDeportes.com.
Why is the U.S. team not playing this year?
All of the teams competing in the World Cup have to go through a qualification process with the exception of host nation, Russia. The U.S. team competes in the CONCACAF region which is made up of teams from North and Central America. In a disastrous campaign for the U.S., they finished behind Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras. In short, they didn't qualify for the tournament this year. They’re not the only ones to miss out though, with Italy and The Netherlands, teams that have performed well in past competitions, also missing out.
Who’s going to win?
If you listen to the bookmakers, Brazil, Germany, Spain and France are the clear favorites to win the World Cup. However, all four had less than stellar opening weekends. Defending champion Germany lost to Mexico, Brazil was held to a tie by Switzerland, Spain tied with Portugal, and France only barely scraped past Australia. Leo Messi’s Argentina also struggled in a 1-1 tie with Iceland as the superstar missed a penalty kick. So there’s a chance for an outsider to win, but keep in mind that with the possible exception of Uruguay in 1930 and 1950, the World Cup has always been won by one of the sport's powerhouses. Brazil has secured five World Cup titles while Italy and Germany have won four each. Argentina has wom two World Cups and England, France and Spain have won the tournament just once.
What is offside in soccer?
This one confuses a lot of people and is often used as a litmus test of a true soccer fan.
According to the FIFA rulebook, a player is in an offside position if: He is nearer to his opponent's goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent. There are a couple of exceptions, but essentially a player is offside when he is standing closer to the goal than the defenders. The idea is that it stops players lurking upfield close to the goal unmarked.
It is the job of the assistant referees or "linesmen" to judge whether players are offside at which point they will brandish their flags from the sideline. This is also the first World Cup to feature VAR (Video Assistant Referee) where referees can refer to video playbacks for contentious decisions.
What is a striker in soccer?
A striker is a forward player, generally the most likely to score goals. Think Leo Messi, Neymar, Pele and Diego Maradona.
Who is the best goalkeeper in the world?
Many would point to Spain and Manchester United’s David de Gea, although a mistake against Portugal allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to score a second of three goals during the match. Germany’s Manuel Neuer or Belgium’s Thibaut Cortois would be strong contenders.
Who is the best player in the world?
This debate has been going on for years now and boils down to two players: Argentina’s Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
When will it all be over?
The World Cup is a bit of a marathon. It runs all the way to the final in Moscow on July 15. So, sit back and enjoy!