A World Cup Cheat Sheet
The World Cup kicks in South Africa June 11, and billions of people will tune in to watch the event that takes place only every four years. Strong passions for the most popular sport will have many fans calling in sick and skipping sleep to follow teams from 32 countries seeking the coveted trophy and a place in football (ahem, soccer) history. How does it work? countries are divided into eight groups of four. Teams play a round robin format, earning three points for a win and one point for a tie. The top two teams from each and from that point on, if they lose, they go home. By Don Smith
With games starting at 7:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. EST, it may be challenging for die-hard fans to watch all the action. But even the casual spectator will not want to miss these: South Africa vs. Mexico This is the opening match of the tournament, and South African pride will be on full display. No host country has ever failed to advance out of the round of the tournament, but South Africa has struggled since last summer and its opponents are downright dangerous, featuring 2006 France and South American stalwarts Uruguay. Friday, June 11, 10 a.m. USA vs. England This will be the World Cup meeting since 1950, when the Americans defeated England 1-0 in what is regarded by many as the greatest upset in World Cup history. With many Americans now playing in English leagues, the teams are closer in talent, but a U.S. victory would still be considered a surprising result that would boost the team and its back home. Saturday, June 12, 2:30 p.m. Ivory Coast vs. Portugal These countries share a daunting task: Only two teams can advance from their group, which also contains mighty Brazil. Both countries will be desperate to achieve success in their match of the tournament. Tuesday, June 15, 10 a.m.
WAYNE ROONEY, ENGLAND: The Manchester United forward is in form this year and seems able to score at will. also matured and gotten his temper under control (after being ejected in loss to Portugal in the 2006 World Cup). He is poised to be one of the stars of the tournament. LIONEL MESSI, ARGENTINA: The 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year has been seemingly unstoppable for Barcelona, providing highlightreel moves on a weekly basis. In South Africa, he must bring the same level of inspiration and dynamism to Team Argentina, which has recently eluded him and his countrymen. Argentina fourth in the South American tournament and barely for the World Cup. CRISTIANO RONALDO, PORTUGAL: In 2009, Real Madrid made for U.S. President Ronald most expensive player in the world, and he has delivered, with 24 goals in his 25 games for the team. His pace, strength and skill will lead Portugal in its bid to improve on a fourth-place at the 2006 World Cup.
A Football Glossary of Terms:
ESPN and ABC use a mostly British announcing crew. After adjusting to the accents, some viewers may be puzzled by unfamiliar words such as pitch (the or match (game). A few more likely to come up: in to touch out of bounds kit uniform coach yellow card an warning for unsportsmanlike conduct red card an ejection extra time overtime
FOR PHOTO CREDITS SEE PAGE 120.