World Cup viewing guide for every type of fan
The World Cup is a few days underway and the common groan from the casual fan is: “What’s with all the ties? I can’t watch a game without a winner!” (I’m ignoring all the gripes of the buzz created by the vuvuzelas.) With that in mind, I decided to create a viewing guide, of sorts, for the varying levels of interest in this tournament.
For the “I-hate-ties; soccer-is-boring” fan:
Don’t watch. You won’t hurt our feelings, and nobody cares what you think about the sport.
For the “I-hate-ties, but-I-really-want-to-try” fan:
You can stay.
First, understand that this initial round-robin group stage is all about advancing to the second round (imagine the second round as the Sweet 16 of March Madness). If you’re the underdog in a group-stage match, playing for a tie is your best chance to advance.
I’d give you two methods to approach the tournament.
One method: if you really want to watch some games at this stage, but really cannot stand ties, select games that are almost certain to end with a several goal victory. Use the FIFA world rankings as your guide. Pick a top 10 team, look for a bad team in their group, and watch the onslaught.
Examples of games guaranteed to not end in a tie: Brazil (world rank #1) vs. North Korea (#105) on June 15th at 2:30pm EST and Italy (#5) vs. New Zealand (#78) on June 20th at 10am EST.
The better method: casually watch the opening group stage (pick your favorite team and watch their games; here is the USA’s schedule). Then ramp up your commitment on June 26th when it gets to the 16-team single-elimination tournament. This is when games require a winner, whether it takes a sudden-death overtime goal or a shoot out. This is when the tournament really gets good, and you will be rewarded for watching.
For the “casual-yet-committed” fan:
I’d put myself in this bracket. I’ve never been a huge fan of watching soccer, but come on, it’s the World Cup.
Step 1: pick your team. I will use the USA for obvious reasons. (Another recommendation would be Portugal after Cristiano Ronaldo voiced his support of Portugal’s recent same-sex marriage law.)
Step 2: locate their group. USA is in group C. Watch every game in this group. Why do you watch every game? Because the USA vs. Slovenia game will mean more to you after you watched Slovenia beat Algeria. You will know the players on the three other teams. You will know what has to happen for USA to advance to the second round. There could be significant rooting interests in Slovenia vs. England on June 23rd as it affects the final Group C standings.
On June 26th when it goes to the 16 team tournament, watch it all.
For the “I-want-more-than-that” fan:
The next progression from that last step is to locate the group pairing for the second round (the first round in the 16 team elimination tournament).
USA is in Group C. Group C is paired with Group D in the second round. So who is in Group D? Australia (#20), Germany (#6), Ghana (#32), Serbia (#15).
If we’re assuming every team plays as they are ranked in the world (it won’t happen, but for this hypothetical, just work with me), USA will finish 2nd in Group C, Germany will be 1st in Group D, and they’ll play on June 27th. So, naturally, watch some Germany games and see what the USA will be up against in the second round.
But what if USA wins Group C? Well, then we’d likely face Serbia or Australia in the second round, so you may want to check them out too.
For the die-hard:
You know what to do. Full schedule here.