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Want to sound like a World Cup wiz?

  • Here's a non-fan's field guide to the world's biggest event
  • Glossary tips: 'Soccer' and 'jersey' are OK, 'zero' is not
  • Brazilian noisemakers, caxirolas, already banned from games
Want to sound like a World Cup wiz?

It's been hard. We know. Ignoring soccer these last four years as the sport steadily makes mainstream inroads can certainly pose a challenge.

But you... You -- brave American and defender of the right to stop caring about soccer the moment you or your children have slurped your last Youth League postgame orange slice -- you have managed to block it all out.

Until now.

Because the World Cup has returned, to Brazil this time, and its arrival is again being heralded with the attendant, unavoidable chatter and excitement online, on your TVs and yes, even in real-life conversations between actual human beings THAT YOU KNOW.

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It is inevitable that at some point between Thursday, when the global event begins, and July 13, when it concludes beneath a sun-obscuring fusillade of confetti, you will be involved either directly or peripherally in a conversation about the World Cup. When the time does come, we don't want you to look foolish.

So bookmark, print and save or just commit to memory these handy terms, phrases and facts, and you'll not only fool your family, friends and co-workers into thinking you're a World Cup fan, they might even ask for your thoughts on the English Premier League and Confederations Cup, too.

God forbid.

Glossary Guide

It's the metric vs. imperial measuring system all over again. The U.S. has one way of saying things and the entire world has a different way.

Here are the times it's OK to use international soccer terminology for authenticity's sake, as well as the times it will make you sound like pretentious phony.

Football vs. Soccer? Soccer. Both are fine, but this is still 'Murica and you may confuse folks by using "football."

Pitch vs. Field? Field. Again, stick with the domestic blend.

Zero vs. Nil? Nil. Even us Yanks know you do not say "zero" when mentioning a game's score.

Game vs. Match? Match. You will not sound pretentious asking what time the USA-Germany match is, you will sound like an informed fan, preparing to do lots of crying.

Jersey vs. Kit? Jersey. As in, "The U.S. jersey looks like an upside-down rocket pop." You know who would say "kit"? Madonna.


3 phrases to blindly repeat

There will be many occasions to use any of the following go-to, pre-fab insights. We just ask that you remember to use them with a different audience each time or else your whole football facade will come crumbling down.

1. "Yeah, those delightful noisemakers are called "caxirolas" (ka-SHE'-rah-luhs) and they're like Brazil's vuvuzela. If people shake three of them it sounds like the ocean. And if people shake 30,000 of them you'll want to injure all 30,000 people. That's why they were banned from the stadiums."

2. "I think the U.S. would prefer to deploy a 4-2-3-1. But, you know, that places a lot of pressure on Altidore and he's been in pretty poor form. The 4-1-2-1-2 gives him help, but leaves us exposed against the clever German, Portuguese and Ghanaian attacks."

3. "You know, people complain a lot about the lack of scoring. But Austria and Switzerland combined to score 12 goals once in a World Cup game. Then again, the 2010 World Cup had 2.3 goals per game, so, maybe that's a more realistic expectation."

The contenders, annotated

Thirty-two teams qualified for the World Cup, but really only a few of them have any chance of winning the thing. So best to stock up on a few facts about the teams you're most likely to keep seeing.

1. Brazil: No European team has even won a South American World Cup. Brazil has won the most World Cups, five. Put it together and there's your favorite right there.

2. Spain: The hottest team on the planet (besides the Heat and Spurs in Game 1, ka-ZING!), Spain has won each of the last three major international tournaments: the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

3. Argentina: Led by perhaps the world's greatest player, Lionel Messi, La Albiceleste won all 14 of their World Cup qualifying matches. Which is really, really good.

4. Germany: They won the 2006 World Cup with former national team star Jurgen Klinsmann (click that for great hair) as head coach. Klinsmann is now the U.S. coach and will face his home country June 26.

5. Italy: Always with the diving. So much diving. Why all the diving, Italy?? *pinched-finger hand gestures*

via YouTube/Stoolie33

Also, yes, there's a mascot this year. His name is Fuleco and we don't know what he is, but he resembles Sonic the Hedgehog plus an armadillo.

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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