The Hurried Man’s Guide to the World Cup
- Shawn Donnelly
In a hurry?
Want to know things about this summer’s World Cup?
This simple Q&A should help.
Where is it? Brazil. Twelve cities. Opening match in São Paulo. Final in Rio.
What is it again? A soccer tournament between the 32 best soccer nations. Held once every four years.
When does it run? June 12 through July 13.
Who’s the favorite? Brazil. They’re a soccer superpower (five World Cup titles, more than any other country), they’re the hosts, and they whipped Spain in last year’s Confederations Cup final. Keep your eye on Neymar, their flashy 22-year-old winger.
Who else might win it? Spain. Germany. Argentina. The usual.
Any dark horses? Belgium.
Really, Belgium? Yes, really, Belgium. Got a bunch of good, young, athletic players. And one lanky midfielder with an Afro.
What about the US? They’re probably not going to do much. Because they were placed in the tournament’s toughest group, aka the Group of Death. To advance, they’ll have to finish in the top two against Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Which probably won’t happen.
Who’s the tournament’s best player? Argentina’s Lionel Messi. He’s a goal-scoring machine. But... only one goal in two previous World Cups.
Who’s the second best player? Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The underwear model? Yep.
Who’s the third best player? Tough to say. Possibly Uruguay forward Luis Suárez. But he’s iffy with a knee injury.
What are three games in the opening round that I should watch? Three? You mean 10?!
No, I mean three. I’ve got other shit to do this summer. Okay, fine. Definitely catch Spain-Netherlands (June 13), England-Italy (June 14) and Brazil-Mexico (June 17). As well as all of the US games, of course.
Right. When are those? June 16 (Ghana), June 22 (Portugal) and June 26 (Germany).
Any prize money in this thing? Actually, yes. Each team will receive at least $8 million, and the winner collects $35 million.
Anything else I should know? This will be the first World Cup with goal-line technology, so referees can determine if the ball crossed the goal line. And if they want, referees can mark the field with vanishing spray during free kicks.
Huh? Don’t worry about it. Just have a beer and watch the games.