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May 24, 2018 By bbw_janitor 11 months 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.
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.
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.
THE FIVE FAVORITES
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.