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World Cup 101: Black Box Wines Breaks Down The Basics of Soccer

May 24, 2018 By bbw_janitor 1 year ago

After a long 4 year wait, the World Cup is finally back! This year, over 3.2 billion people (almost half of the world’s population) will tune in to watch this two month tournament, but don’t worry if you’re a soccer novice. From how teams move through the tournament stage by stage to the basics of how the game actually works, Black Box Wines has broken down what you need to know to confidently enjoy a summer of soccer, wine glass in hand.


  • Each team is made up of 11 starting players and a bench with substitutes. While Olympic soccer players must be under age 23, the World Cup includes all of the world’s best competitors.
  • Only the goalkeeper can touch the ball with his hands, and he can only do so inside the penalty area – the 18-yard rectangle around the goal often referred to as “the box.”
  • A match consists of two 45-minute halves, with additional minutes (“stoppage time”) to be added on at the referees’ discretion.
  • The referee has three assistants to ensure the game progresses according to the rules.
  • Yellow cards are given for mild fouls and red cards are for serious indiscretions or when a player has already earned a yellow card and commits a second foul. Getting a red card ejects that player from the game, leaving their team down a man for the remainder of the match.
  • The objective: to score more goals than the opposing team… which is much easier said than done.

World Cup 101

Ready for a little World Cup 101? Here goes!

The 32 teams that make it to the World Cup have already gone through years of qualifying matches to make it into the tournament. This year, the tournament is being hosted in Russia, kicking off on June 14 and concluding with a champion decided in the final match on July 15. The tournament has two stages, the Group stage and the Knockout stage.

The Group Stage
The Group Stage is the perfect time to start to pick your favorites. Whether you pick based on favorite country, favorite goal celebration, or a tried-and-true allegiance doesn’t matter.

  • To begin, teams are sorted into eight groups each consisting of four teams.
  • The 7 top-seeded teams (based on FIFA Rankings) and the host nation are each assigned to their own groups first. The remaining nations are then divided into “pots” based on geography. Teams are them randomly allocated from the pots into the 8 Groups.
  • Each team plays each other team in their group once, accumulating points if they win (3 points!) or draw (1 point!), and receiving 0 points for a loss.
  • At the end of the Group Stage, the top two teams of each group (16 total), based on points, advance to the Knockout stage.

The Knockout Stage
True to its name, in this stage of the tournament a loss means you’re out. The tournament runs from hereon out much like March Madness, beginning with a Sweet Sixteen teams which are whittled down to the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, a match to determine third-place, and the grand final.

In this round, each match MUST have a winner. If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, two 15-minute halves are then played. If there is still a draw, the match will go to penalty kicks to determine a winner. These moments are when your wine will come in very handy.

Print out this helpful Black Box Wines bracket to track the tournament.


This year’s 5 favored teams are Germany, Spain, France, Brazil and Argentina. With the exception of Argentina, these countries have won 4 of the last 5 World Cups (the fifth went to Italy in 2006 who, shockingly, did not qualify this year).

Germany are the current champions and their team shows no signs of backing down from the challenge of defending their crown. Their coach has assembled a skilled group of seasoned veterans and fresh talent that has been performed formidably throughout qualifiers. Germany expected to make it out of their group in first place and to go far in this tournament. If you enjoy our crisp Black Box Riesling, this is your team.

Spain won their first World Cup in 2010 after a nail-biting group stage in which they came close to being eliminated. They then continued their streak to win the European championship in 2012. Until 2008, Spain were known as the great underachievers, coming into tournaments with high hopes but being eliminated early on, but this year their squad is experienced and laden with accolades (though not quite at our 50 Gold Medal level yet). Be sure to have a glass of our new Black Box Sangria in hand when watching La Furia Roja (the Red Fury – a nickname for the Spanish team).

France, the 1998 World Cup champion, is finally emerging from a very dark period in their national soccer team history (did someone say player revolt?) and has once again become a contender. Fans of Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay

will enjoy watching the team’s stars Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba work their magic up top as goalkeeper Hugo Loris stops the impossible between the sticks.

Five time World Cup winners, Brazil are tournament darlings and their squad of stars certainly has the “favorites” label placed squarely on their chest yet again. While it will be easy to get caught up in the fancy footwork and jaw-dropping goals of their superstar, Neymar, don’t be surprised if Defenders Dani Alves and Marcelo step up and score some snazzy goals of their own.

Argentina, land of the Black Box Malbec and the great Maradona, are two-time World Cup champions and almost fained a third title in 2014 when they lost to Germany in the final match. Argentina has several out-of-this-world players, but all eyes will be on their captain, arguably the best soccer player in the world, Lionel Messi. At the age of 30 and having won every competition with his club FC Barcelona, many are saying all Messi needs to cement his place amongst the greats (if not, the all-time great) is a World Cup Trophy. No pressure.


Still not convinced? It’s always fun to root for an underdog if your country didn’t qualify (we’re looking at you Italy and America). First-time ever qualifier Iceland is the perfect candidate, though they will compete with Argentina, Croatia, and Nigeria in the Group Stage. Panama, also a first-time qualifier, may be a safer bet for a Cinderella story if they can make it past Group G where they are up against England, Tunisia and Belgium.