The 2014 World Cup starts in Brazil today, so get ready to hear people talking about it nonstop. But rightfully so: It’s the biggest sporting event in the world, and only happens once every four years.
We get it, soccer isn’t a huge deal in the United States, but you still don’t want to be the odd one out when everyone at work or all your friends start discussing it, and you have nothing insightful to add.
Here’s the quickest class you’ll ever take—a rundown in all things World Cup:
WHO: 32 teams from all around the globe.
209 teams initially enter, but it gets whittled down to 32 over two qualifying rounds spanning two years.
There are eight groups with four teams each, who play against each other, earning points based on wins, losses, and ties. The top two teams from each group advance to the next round, where it’s single elimination, until finally only two teams are left to fight for the title.
WHAT: The biggest sporting event in the world.
Soccer a major deal in other countries—it’s essentially a religion and way of life—so bringing together the best players for one tournament, plus throwing in some national pride, gives you an event that basically unites the entire planet.
WHEN: June 12-July 13.
WHY: Because it’s awesome.
Teams play for both pride and country. And since soccer fans are passionate, loud, proud, and wild, they’re basically the best.
Now that you have the basics down, here are three boiled-down talking points for you to casually work into a World Cup conversation:
Talking Point #1: The United State’s chances.
Although the U.S. did qualify, it is highly unlikely that they’ll advance out of the first round. Womp womp, we know. But the U.S. is up against an extremely talented first round group (competitors include Germany, Portugal, and Ghana), meaning our chances of advancing are very slim.
UPDATE 6/16/14 — The United States beat Ghana 2-1 in the first round!
Talking Point #2: Celebrity WAGs.
When it comes to soccer, WAGs (that’s wives and girlfriend to you non-fútbol fanatics) are almost as famous as the players themselves. And this year, you’ll spot lots of celebrity WAGS in the stands, like Shakira, who is in a relationship with Spanish star Gerard Piqué, and model Irina Shayk, who dates Portugal’s superstar player Cristiano Ronaldo.
Talking Point #3: The favorites.
Impress everyone and drop some insight into who you think will win. Spain, Germany, Portugal and Brazil are all favorites. (Bayern Munich from Germany won in 2013.) Two of those teams will likely walk away with the title of best soccer team in the world on July 13!
To get extra sneaky pumped to talk all things soccer, watch this amazing video from ESPN.
We’ll see you in Russia in 2018!