Get Primed for This Summer’s World Cup!

If you haven’t heard, this summer the 2014 edition of the World Cup is happening in Brazil!

The World Cup only happens every four years and is the premier soccer tournament featuring the top 32 national teams in the world. Leading up to the World Cup national pride swells, and fans start discussing their country’s chances in the group stage, the knockout rounds, or even to win the highly sought trophy. Americans think they have finally developed a team worthy of recognition and success. The Brazilian hosts believe they can break their own World Cup record again by winning a sixth title. Argentina wonders if Lionel Messi can finally perform on the national stage like he does for his club team, Barcelona, to help bring home the gold. Finally, the Spaniards hope they can add their name to a short list of countries that have been able to win back-to-back World Cups. The stories are plentiful leading up to the World Cup, but their predictions will not be realized until the ultimate crowning of a champion on July 13th.

In the meantime, if you aren’t enjoying the games in Rio de Janeiro but are watching them here in Denver or elsewhere in the US, and you aren’t too familiar with soccer (or fútbol) here are some terms you may need to know:


Well I guess this one probably doesn’t need to be described to any native Spanish speakers, as it is commonly heard during soccer commentary. If you are not familiar with this iconic saying, a goal occurs whenever a player from one of the teams kicks the ball into the net of the opposing team. This is called “scoring a goal.”


A save happens whenever a goalkeeper (the player wearing gloves in front of the net) prevents the opposing team from scoring a goal. A good goalkeeper will sometimes get a “shut out”, which refers to his/her keeping the other team from scoring a goal the entire game.

Bicycle Kick

Though bicycle kicks are rare, fans dream about seeing their favorite player score a goal with a bicycle kick. A bicycle kick is when a player kicks the ball backward over his/her own head. But the kicker is that they do this with both feet already off the ground. When a player is attempting a bicycle kick it may at first look like they are trying to do a back flip—it really is an incredible athletic feat!


Offside is the position of a player when they are closer to the opposing team’s goal than the second-to-last defender (the goalkeeper is considered a defender) at the time the ball is kicked toward them. When a player is judged to be offside, the referee will blow his whistle and give the ball to the opposing team at the place the player was offside. This is a difficult rule to understand, but you will likely see a lot of it while watching the games, so you’ll learn fast!

Penalty Kick

Penalty kicks are frequently referred to as just “penalties”. A penalty only occurs within the penalty box (the big white box in front of each goal) after the defending team has committed a foul. During a penalty, one offensive player is allowed to place the ball on the “penalty spot”, a white painted circle on the field, and take a free shot at the goal with only the goalkeeper there to defend the shot. Penalties can also happen after the game has ended with the score tied. The team to score the most penalty kicks after five attempts will be awarded the win. If any of the games in the World Cup go to penalty kicks at the end, then you will know it was a great game!

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