Yes! It’s the World Cup.  Bring it on!

The World Cup starts this week - England have their first group stage match on Saturday against the USA. Instead of moaning and groaning about the amount of footie on the telly, gives you some tips on how to embrace the soccer fest and show you’re bang up to date on World Cup knowledge.

The World Cup starts this week - England have their first group stage match on Saturday against the USA. Instead of moaning and groaning about the amount of footie on the telly, gives you some tips on how to embrace the soccer fest and show you’re bang up to date on World Cup knowledge. 

Dates to take into consideration…
* Arrange anything for the night of Sunday 11th July.  It’s the World Cup final.  If you think a pleasant, balmy summer evening in the garden would be a good idea, recognise that you will be on your own.  Nobody will take up your offer to ‘pop round for a bit of supper’. 
* Make detailed preparations for getting the children home from school on Wednesday June 23rd.  On this day, England are playing their last group stage match against Slovenia.  The difficulty is that the game starts at 3pm.  Inquire if the school will show the match and let pupils stay until it has finished.  You might also inquire if your employer is allowing flexi-working that day.  It’s worth asking if you can go in earlier for a couple of days during the week so you can get the afternoon off in return.  Employers are keen to be seen in a good light and don’t want grumpiness amongst the workforce when the World Cup is on.  After all, football is often seen as a unifying force.  Point out to your boss that if England are doing well, everyone is in a better mood and productivity will soar.

How to dazzle your family with your footie know-how
Either you’ll have to read the back pages of the newspapers with laborious missionary zeal every day, or you can take on board here a few short cuts to look as if you know what you’re talking about. 
*  When you’re making a prediction, don’t just pick Brazil.  Pretend to think for a while and then say: ”Chile could surprise a few people. Or maybe this will be the first time an African nation gets to the semi-final.  But who’s most likely? Ivory Coast? Nigeria? Or Ghana?”
* If you want to look really clever, mention how ’interesting’ it would be if England ended up playing the Ivory Coast.  The background to this insightful comment lies with the fact that former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is now the coach for the Ivory Coast. 
* The type of ball to be used actually has a name – Jabulani.  So far, it has been criticised by goalkeepers as being difficult to handle.  As you sit through the first half of the first England game, this is the time to say: ”I see what David James means about that Jabulani.”
* Keep up to date with the injury concerns.  You probably know already that Rio Ferdinand, the England captain, is out of the World Cup.  But Didier Drogba (Chelsea and Ivory Coast) has suffered a fractured elbow and it is not certain or not if it is curtains for his World Cup.  Look as if you’re interested and ask the soccer oracle in your house if there’s any more news on the fractured elbow front.   
* Another insightful comment: ”Chelsea players are having a difficult time, aren’t they? I do hope Joe Cole has a good World Cup.” The background to this knowledgeable statement is: Michael Ballack, captain of Germany, is out injured, so too is Michael Essien of Ghana, and John Mikel Obi of Nigeria.  And, of course, we’re still waiting for the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Didier Drogba.
* Up-and-coming stars to take note of.  Let’s momentarily forget about Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Fernando Torres – they’re all predictable.  Instead,  impress your family with measured comments about the merits of Humberto Suazo, striker for Chile, and Maicon, defender for Brazil.  Coming out with these names shows you’ve been doing some serious homework on the World Cup.
* Top tip for a ‘fancy that’ exclamation.  There’s a father and son team in the USA team.  Bob Bradley is coach and his son Michael is midfield dynamo for the team.

Do your bit for England
This does not mean flying flags from your car. This means being proactive by suggesting a family competition to predict who will be the winner of the Golden Boot – this is the award which goes to the player who scores the most goals in the tournament.   Each family member is allowed to pick two players. Last time Germany’s Miroslav Klose won it with five goals.  Who’s it going to be this time? Soccer pundits are mentioning David Villa of Spain, Robin van Persie of the Netherlands, and good old Wayne Rooney for England. 

If you really want to be constructive…
* Get the family to bone up on their knowledge of the capital cities of the countries in the World Cup if you really want them to get something academic from the tournament.   You can also test the maths of younger children by encouraging them to fill in a World Cup chart and telling them how many points for a win or draw.  The chart is also useful for helping youngsters to identify the flags of the world. 
* Do not get constructive with food during the World Cup.  You will impress no one with your tasty dish inspired by Ecuador or Japan.  This is the time you can serve up a Pot Noodle turfed out of the pot and put on a plate and get away with it.  Nobody will care about what they eat when they’re wrapped up in soccer excitement. 
Come on England!

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