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How To Sound Smart While Watching The World Cup With Friends
Dropping a few of these well-timed phrases should have your friends nodding approvingly during your World Cup watch party.
As intense clashes continue to unfold at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the conversations at home viewing parties and pubs around the globe are undoubtedly becoming equally as fierce. This means that Randy in the IT department is vigilantly scouring the web for stats and other insightful morsels, so he can not only dominate the water cooler debate du jour, but also so he can steal your thunder off the clock too, when you're sucking down suds with your colleagues or mutual friends. Whatever you do, don’t let Randy win! Fortune favors the bold, but nothing beats preparedness, so if you foresee your upcoming days filled with footy drama, here’s a couple things to say to at least appear like you've got a clue as to what's going on in the game ... and hopefully keep that jagaloon in check.
‘Boy, that Number 10 is good!’
While Vegas may like seven or 11, when it comes to soccer, the number 10 is the most significant jersey on the field because it traditionally belongs to a team's best playmaker or the attacking midfielder. This guy’s a stud when it comes to generating scoring opportunities for his squad, demonstrating exquisite ball handling skills and, hopefully, a lethal boot. Just sample this list of World Cup greats, both past and present, who've worn the number: Lionel Messi, Neymar, Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona, Pelé – the list goes on and on. These are the talismans – the pitch wizards, if you will. So, in the event you’re not up to snuff on the two teams in the match, impress your bros and beat “Randall” to the punch by locking onto whoever’s wearing number 10. Chances are, he’s got a little magic up his sleeve.
Point out the quality of a team’s 'service'
It’s date night, and you’re out on the town, looking fly as you sit down for your overpriced meal. As you look around, if it’s a decent restaurant, you’ll notice the entire staff, from the servers to the sommelier, working seamlessly in unison. The quality of their execution is intrinsically tied to the concept of service. The same is true in soccer. When you talk about the quality of a squad’s service, you’re talking about a team’s ability to work together effectively and efficiently, specifically when it comes to ball distribution and passes. From set pieces to passing, look for the team that can generate attacking momentum by accurately playing incisive passes into into prime scoring areas. And if they're not, then you score points by calling that out as well.
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Periodically make points about the midfield play
Hands down, the midfield is the most crucial area of the pitch because it’s the link between the offense and the defense. It’s fluid and transformative in nature because this is often where teams gain or lose possession, creating chances for dynamic attacks and agonizing defensive failures. Responsibility for this critical region usually rests on the shoulders of just a few players – for the U.S. it's Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah and team captain Tyler Adams – who have to facilitate their team's attack with sharp ball movement when in possession, or, when they don't have the ball, to work like mad to win it back. Whether your team's playing well or poorly, you'll probably find the reason why in the center of the pitch. You'll rarely go wrong pointing that out.
‘They need to work the keeper’
Wayne Gretzky/Michael Scott was right -- you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. When it comes to footy, nobody’s gifting goals, so players must shoot their shot when opportunity calls. But you'll no doubt notice that a hefty number of attempts will sail over the crossbar or ping harmlessly off target. When that happens, it's good to drop an occasional comment about players needing to "work" or "test" the opposing goalkeeper. Trying to place the call in the top corner is definitely flashier, but those shots are more difficult to strike accurately. Sometimes it's better to keep a shot low and powerful that a keeper may have difficulty handling, potentially creating second-chance opportunities for trailing attackers.
Have some soccer slang handy
Weaving in some slick footy slang and idioms is always a good idea to impress anyone you’re watching the game with, friend or foe. Here's a few to file away: A "brace" refers to a player scoring two goals for his side; a "clean sheet" means a team – and most notably the keeper – did not concede a single goal throughout the match. "End-to-end stuff" is how you’d describe an action-packed match, and a "game of two halves" refers to a match that looks nearly diametrically opposite from half to half. Lastly, "in his pocket" refers to one player defensively dominating a specific opponent, like a center back shutting down an opposing striker or, in this case, you dominating ol' Randy during the World Cup office watch party.
‘They Need Fresh Legs’
With FIFA allowing for five substitutions plus an additional sub should a match reach extra time in this World Cup (as opposed to the traditional three subs), this is one of the most critical elements to a coach’s strategy, as "fresh legs" refer to exactly what they sound like – fresh, ready-to-go players whose energy is powered up and ready to be deployed. As we venture into the knockout round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, injuries and fatigue will be mounting up for every squad, so use a simple eye test to analyze the quality of play on the pitch. If players who normally look fit are dialing in a lackluster performance, toss this one out there before that poor bloke Randy can even open his mouth.
Feeling the pull of soccer? You can watch Premier League coverage on USA Network, featuring Premier League Mornings, select matches, and Premier League Goal Zone (check listings for games/schedule). And catch up on all the action on Peacock.