My charming and delightful brother-in-law, Adrian Garibay, has put together a short FAQ on the biggest sporting event in the world, the World Cup. I liked what he wrote so much that I thought you should all see it.
With the World Cup starting tomorrow, I've put together a quick synopsis of this thing called the World Cup to hopefully add to your enjoyment and understanding of it all. What is it?
The World Cup is a month-long tournament played once every four years that determines the world championship of soccer. The World Cup has 32 national teams divided into 8 groups of 4 teams. In the first round they play one another in a round-robin style of play and only the top 2 teams from each group advance to the 2nd round or Round of 16. After that it is a single elimination knock out competition. You lose, you go home. Why all the hype?
A few reasons:
Simply put, these players are the best of the best. No amateur status, no college kids here. These are highly paid professional athletes who hands down are not only the best players from their country, but the best in the world. They are all here, playing for one trophy. Each team has qualified for the World Cup by competing in qualifying rounds over the last 2 years. It's a grueling process, so just getting here is fine by some teams.
Similar to NCAA basketball, the World Cup has many moments that are etched in people's memory. Great teams, great players...the shot that almost went in...the game lost in the last minute..the team that always makes it, but never wins... all of that is here except that it's not a college campus that's watching the game, it's the whole country. Often a match up is not just about the 2 teams on the field, but about what may have happened the last time they played in a World Cup etc.. One guarantee..there will be some amazing games to watch.
The World Cup is not easy to win. You play 3 games in the first round. 1 loss and it's not good, 2 losses and you might as well pack your bags. If you get by the first round, you need to win 6 more games in a row against the best in the world. Soccer is two 45 min. halves with no time outs. The speed of the game is relentless, once you are subbed out, you can't come back. You are only allowed 3 subs per game. Half-time is only 15 min.. That is it. Some players are cut out for it, some teams are not. Half of it is skill, the rest is luck, determination and lots of heart. OK...so what do I watch?
All 64 games will be live on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC.
The event is in Germany (prime time for them) so mid-day for us. Here's a link to the schedule http://soccernet.espn.go.com/worldcup/fixtures?&lpos=wcnav&lid=gn_sn_WC+fixtures&cc=5901
The first round is touch and go. If you aren't a sports or soccer fan, skip the first round. Best bets, June 17 Italy vs Czech Republic, June 21 Netherlands vs Argentina.
The Round of sixteen will get more interesting (June 24-27) should be good, depending on the match ups
The quarterfinals or final eight teams (4 games), are a sure bet (June 30 and July 1) . This is where the whole thing takes place. All of these 4 games will be great.
The semi-finals 4 teams (2 games). Most of the magic will happen here. Don't miss these 2 games. July 4 and July 5.
The final - July 9. The last few years have been good. But in the past some teams put all their heart into the previous game. If you watched any of the tournament...you gotta watch the final. What about the US Team?
Don't let anyone fool you. The US can play up against anyone, anytime, anywhere. We've proven that already. BUT...we've got a tough group. Italy: Three-time World Cup champion. Czech Republic: Ranked 2nd in the world and have a former European player of the year on the team. Ghana: Not an easy team, but this is their first World Cup. It will not be easy so if we make it out of the group stage, anything can happen after that. Where should I watch?
ESPN does an ok job of televising soccer, but if you get a chance, checkout part of a game on Univision (Spanish), it's like watching a Cubs game and having Bob Costas or Harry Caray doing it. Better yet...if you get a chance to go to a real soccer bar, go for it. If anything, you'll have at least 30 new friends after the game is done (The Globe - Lincoln/Irving, Fado - Grand/Clark, Ginger's Ale House - Ashland/Grace, Abbey Pub - Elston/Grace).