Talley’s World Cup Watching Guide

I’m an experienced watcher of soccer/football/futebol. If you’re not, I’m going to upgrade you right now. Here’s how I’m watching and what I’m watching for.

The Football

Counterintuitively, an important part of the World Cup is actually the ball. Without the ball, it’s hard to understand what’s going on. If you’re new to the game, you’ll probably just watch the ball the whole time. That’s fine. There will be plenty of on-the-ball skill in this World Cup. Experienced fans: Don’t forget to pay attention to the ball.

The Tactics

Seasoned football fans will probably be looking out for the tactical plans of the involved teams. The best way to learn about strategy in general and these 32 teams in particular is to read Zonal Marking, an excellent website that has just finished a comprehensive, team-by-team tactical rundown. Try following the activity of the two player’s ZM has picked out as each team’s key actor, and you’ll be surprised how well you begin to see the shape of the rest of the team.

The Commentators

Critiquing commentators is the typical football fan’s favorite extracurricular activity. We glorify in Ray Hudson’s flights of fancy and despair at Taylor Twellman’s grating inanity. Who can forget Adrian Healey’s famous call as Holland destroyed France in 2008: “It’s a Dutch Oven, and the French…are toast”? A good commentating team can make a match much more enjoyable. A bad commentating team can do the same, if they’re comically rather than offensively bad. But beware such commentators as Eric Wynalda and Gus Johnson. Just turn it off.

Here’s a pretty good review of the commentators involved this month. The first game is Ian Darke and Steve McManaman. Enjoy – they’re among the best out there. Here’s the commentary schedule for the rest of the Cup.

What To Drink

Your drink must match your team. Check out this unofficial list of national drinks and get your fandom and fundom on the same page.

What To Wear

See above. Your clothing must also match your national team. If you can’t afford the real thing, just get the colors right.

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