The 2014 World Cup has finally arrived and much of the planet is excitedly settling in to a month of little to no productivity. The stadiums aren't ready, the host nation is upset and everyone is injured. In other words, this could be the greatest World Cup ever since the last World Cup. But even if you have somehow managed to avoid being inundated with every piece of World Cup information imaginable in recent weeks, it's not too late to catch up. So here's a quick overview of useful information.
First things first
THIS WORLD CUP IS NOT IN QATAR. I know, everyone has been talking about World Cups in Qatar and the heat and the corruption and the heat and the human rights abuses and the heat, but the Qatar World Cup isn't until 2022. This World Cup is in Brazil. It will be pretty hot in a lot of places there too.
Vuvuzela status: Banned.
Mascot: Fuleco the three-banded armadillo.
Thirty two teams are divided into eight groups of four with the top two sides in each advancing to the knockout stage. There are 12 host cities spread throughout Brazil and almost all of the money generated by this cash cow will go to FIFA and its sponsors.
-Brazil: Host nation, winners of a record five World Cup titles, has the shortest distance between them and a very large number of fans who will be irate if they lose.
-Spain: Defending champions, lost 3-0 to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final last summer.
-Argentina: That neighbor who you were obligated to invite to your party and you know will be annoying and could end up going home with the most attractive person there.
-Germany: Quite German.
Teams not in it
-Australia (they're physically present, but they're not really there)
64-year-old historical embarrassments
Brazil lost the only previous World Cup they hosted in 1950 to Uruguay. It has been the team's greatest shame and the reason they now wear their iconic yellow and green kit instead of white and blue.
Notable additions this year
-Goal-line technology to prevent blind officials from failing to count legitimate goals and forcing them to just get offside calls and penalty decisions wrong instead.
-Vanishing spray to mark off how close defenders can stand to the ball during a free kick and convince five-year-olds that the referees are wizards who can paint magic disappearing lines on the grass.
-Unignorable social unrest.
The most talked about players
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) — The guy with plastic hair who is constantly taking off ill-fitting shirts.
Lionel Messi (Argentina) — The guy who is either smiling like a child who just learned about the concept of receiving presents or dry heaving.
Neymar (Brazil) — The guy protecting wandering children from security guards and getting paid to wear Beats headphones.
Wayne Rooney (England) — The guy who is either angrily shouting at the camera as he proves his critics wrong or angrily shouting at the camera because everything really is his fault.
Landon Donovan (USA) — Not present, but will be on ESPN joyfully pointing out why Jurgen Klinsmann's choice in socks shows how little he understands about the psyche of American athletes.
"Every group is the Group of Death for someone if you think about it."
"Yes, there really is a Brazilian player called Hulk."
"Sepp Blatter is just the worst."
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