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Introduction to Football
How To Appreciate the Beauty in The Beautiful Game
Football. Soccer. The beautiful game. No matter what you call it, there's no denying that football is the most popular sport in the world. As such, it's also the most widely-consumed. It's easy to feel like an outsider to conversation if you don't understand football. At the same time, it can seem overwhelming to try and start learning. With that in mind, the following are the basic things you need to know about football in order to get a handle on what the heck is going on down there.
Each football team has 11 starting players. These players can be divided into four basic categories: Goalkeepers, Defenders, Midfielders, and Attackers.
Goalkeepers are the last line of defense between the opposing team and the goal. They stand in between the goal posts and try to prevent any shot that gets through. In front of them are the defenders. Often referred to as the "back line," they try to break up the opponents' attacking moves and then pass the ball off to the midfield. Midfielders are generally tasked with holding possession of the ball and then passing it off to the attacking players whenever they are in position to score. Attacking players, or strikers, are tasked with most of the scoring responsibilities. They take the most shots and score the most goals out of any other players on the team.
Matches are usually played once a week on Saturdays. Occasionally, there will be matches on other days of the week, particularly Sunday. Sometimes, teams will also play twice a week, as is the case in England during Christmas week when teams play on that Saturday as well as Boxing Day.
There are many intense rivalries in international soccer. These are typically between two clubs who are very close to one another in geographical proximity and are referred to as a "derby." However, some rivalries form simply because two clubs are considered the most dominant in their country, and thus their matches frequently determine who will win the league title in their country that season. Here are a few such matches to look out for:
The Manchester Derby (Manchester United v. Manchester City)
The Tyne-Wear Derby (Newcastle United v. Sunderland)
The North London Derby (Tottenham Hotspur v. Arsenal)
El Clasico (Barcelona v. Real Madrid)
Topics of conversation after watching a football match tend to range from any controversial decisions to what the implications of the result are for the league table (standings). Usually, a football match will have at least one referee decision that is controversial. Since fouls are at the ref's discretion, they are frequently controversial.
Implications on the league table are also important. Clubs earn three points for a victory and one point for a draw. Whoever accumulates the most at the end of the season wins. Conversation will reflect on how many points a club earned from their last game, especially if they lost or drew due to a goal that was scored late in the match.
Gambling is very popular when it comes to football. There are many ways to gamble on football. You can wager on who will win, what the final score will be, etc. One way to start a pool at work is to wager on what you think the final scoreline to a match will be. Each person pays for each individual scoreline, and there are no duplicates allowed. This can make following football a fun experience for everybody. So if you're a novice to the beautiful game, don't wait any longer! Once you jump in, its amazing how much fun you can have.
(Photo via Susieq3c)