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A cheat sheet to act like a football expert ahead of World Cup

Deviant Art/GraphicSamHD/ANORAK illustration


World Cup is here again! While you might not be a football geek, there will certainly be some live-watching nights you need to go, and it never hurts show off a little bit and surprise your bae or your squad with some football knowledge. 😁

Here’s the cheat sheet for you to instantly become an expert!

Which team to support?

First off, DO NOT say these 2 notable and historical teams: Italy and Netherlands, because they are not in this World Cup!

If you want to go for favourites and powerhouses, there are Germany and Brazil. Germany is great with efficiency and execution. It is like a well-oiled machine where every player on the pitch is on the same page and knows exactly what his job is. Brazil is really well-known for its flashy offense and the “dances” the players can put on with the football.

If you want to try to act like a smart-ass, you can go for a hipster team such as Belgium, Egypt, and France. Belgium has a bunch of great and A-list players like Lukaku, Hazard, De Bruyne, Courtois, Kompany, and Fellaini.

In Egypt, there is the monster in Mohamed Salah (though he dislocated his shoulder in May, finger-crossed!)

France also has some really talented rising stars in Pogba, Griezmann, and Mbappé.

You can’t forget about England! It’s a very famous team among the football world, and it can be considered as an emotional pick to win the Cup. Don’t get too invested in this team! The higher your hopes are, the more deflated you become, and this team has a track record of disappointing its fans 🙄

Well, there are also Argentina and Portugal, represented by two of the most polarizing forces the football world has ever seen in Messi and Ronaldo. When one of them is playing for you, you always seem to have a chance.

What to say when you come across a Messi vs. Ronaldo debate:

They are both the GOATs, and no one can ever definitively claim which of them is better. But you can talk about both of their strengths to show that you know your stuff. 🙃😏

Imagine Batman vs. Superman. Ronaldo is like Batman. He dedicates his life to football and works his butt off in training and body strengthening/conditioning. He puts in the work that makes him as good as the alien he is fighting against. Messi is like this alien Superman, where the magic he puts on the pitch with the football just seems extremely effortless. And he’s reached the level where he would fool around in the beginning of a match and then shows off his out-of-this-world trickery when it’s time to win. His football skills really make you believe there is actually a chance that he is not human.


What to say when someone asks you which player to look for:

Now, you wanna go beyond Messi and Ronaldo. Everyone mentioned above can make you be seen as more than a casual fan. Here’s a more organized list by countries:



Neymar – The face of the Brazilian team for many years to come

Coutinho – An excellent offensive footballer who is also the future of the team



Neuer, Kroos, Özil, Reus, Müller – All established stars and important players for their clubs.



Pogba, Griezmann, Mbappé, Dembélé – Promising rising stars who are eager to win and become even bigger superstars.



Lukaku, Hazard, De Bruyne, Courtois, Kompany, and Fellaini – Skillful and powerful players who are very important to competitive football clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea.



Lingard, Kane, Sterling, Rashford, Dele Alli – Prodigious youngsters who have the potential to carry England to the top of the hill.



Salah – A monster from Eygpt that has the potential to be the next best player of the world after Ronaldo/Messi.

Offside? Foul? Penalty? Corner kick?

So, when an offside occurs, half of the time it’s controversial, so your squad might either be raving or raging about it.

You can also know how to react depending on which team your squad is cheering for, but here's a trick to instantly know what's going on! First thing you need to look at is the replay! During the replay, the TV will show a vertical line. If the offensive player is over the line when he is about to receive the ball, then it is an offside; otherwise it’s not. So! Always look at that line and the pause on the TV!


When a foul occurs, it can be a free kick or a penalty kick, and you need to know the difference in order to shout out WHERE IS THE PENALTY! 


Free kick: When the offensive player is fouled (or the defensive player's hand touches the ball) outside the Penalty Box near the goal post.

Penalty kick: Same as free kick but this time the whole thing happens inside the Box.

When the ball is outside of the pitch, it can be a throw-in or corner kick.


Throws-in: When the ball got out of the pitch from the sideline.

Corner kick: When the ball got out from the line between the corner flag and the goal post.

Extra time? Tied score? 

When the score is tied, the game would end or it will go to extra time.


The game ends: When the score is tied during the group stages

Extra time: When the World Cup proceeds to the knockout stage after the group stage.


So there you have it!

That’s the cheat sheet that covers the basics for you! Get through it a few time and watch this World Cup like a football nerd even if you might just be a casual fan~

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