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10 Things You Should Know About the World Cup


Written December 6th, 2013 by Mike Slatton

I read last night that today is the drawing to determine the 4 team groupings (8 groups of 4 teams each) of the 32 teams competing for the 2014 World Cup (11:30am on ESPN2).  It got me thinking that the average parent doesn’t know too much about the World Cup, so I want to give you a 10 things you should know about the World Cup list of things every parent of American youth soccer players need to know.

First, here’s some preliminary info about today’s events:


There are currently 4 “pots” that the 32 teams are categorized in:

Brazil National Football team


Pot One: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Switzerland

*Pot One is the top 7 countries, according to FIFA’s rankings, plus Brazil.  Brazil is NOT in the top 8 of FIFA’s rankings, but they’re the hosts, so they go in pot 1.

Pot Two: Chile, Ecuador, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria

*Pot Two comprises the five qualified nations of African, members of the CAF (Confederation of African Football), plus Chile and Ecuador.  Notice that Pot Two only has seven teams. FIFA will draw a ball from pot 4 before anything else is done today.

Pot Three: Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, US, Australia, Japan, Iran, South Kore

*Pot Three is made up of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football)  and AFC (Asian Football Confederation)  nations, and other top finishers from Asia and the Americas.

England National Football team


Pot Four: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia

*Pot Four is comprised of everyone else who round out the top 32.  Of these nine unseeded UEFA nations, 1 will be put into Pot Two before the official drawing begins.

10 Things Every Parent of Youth Soccer Players Should Know About the World Cup

1. What we know as the World Cup is actually the finals of a planet wide competition that has been going on for 2 1/2 years.

– These 32 are the 32 best teams in the world.

United States Men's National Soccer Team

United States

2.  The U. S. is ranked #14 in the world.  Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Portugal, Uruguay, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Brazil, Belgium, Greece, England are all thought to be better than us.

– pffff.

3. This World Cup’s long-shot nation is Iran, who barely qualified over Algeria.

– I’m sure that makes Algeria the #2 long shot.

4. The smallest nation to compete in the 2014 World Cup is Uruguay, with a population of 3.4 million people.  Iceland barely missed the cut to become the smallest nation EVER.

– The smallest nation EVER to qualify for a World Cup final is Trinidad & Tobago, who finished last in their group in 2006.

5. The largest nation in the 2014 World Cup is… the United States, with a population of 314 million people.

– The largest country to EVER qualify for the World Cup final is… oh yeah…  the United States, because it’s the largest country on the planet.

6. The poorest country in the 2014 World Cup is Ivory Coast, with a GDP of $24.68 billion.  Nigeria, in comparison, has a GDP of $262 billion.  The richest country in the World Cup (and the world) is the United States, which has a GDP of $15.68 TRILLION.

– “Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money…”

Lionel Messi giving everyone the "UP YOURS!" sign

Messi – Best in the World

7. The top soccer player in the 2014 World Cup plays for Argentina – Lionel Messi.  He also plays for FC Barcelona, in Spain’s Premier League.

– The national dish of Argentina is Asado – Argentinian beef cooked on a barbecue.  Mmmm.


Neymar – Player to Watch

8. The player to watch for in the 2014 World Cup will be Neymar.  He’s young, fast and Brazilian.

– Neymar also plays for… FC Barcelona… with Messi.  Hmmmm.  FC Barcelona must be pretty good.

9.  The team to watch in the World Cup will be Spain… and Holland… and Germany… and Belgium.  These teams all epitomize what modern football is all about – which of course started in Holland around 1972, when a term called Total Football was coined by the Dutch and their premier football club, Ajax.  Spain’s national team is made up of a bunch of guys from – you guessed it – FC Barcelona and the other Spanish league powerhouse, Real Madrid.  The have mastered the Dutch method and tweaked it a little.  If you want to be good, play like them.

Team Barcelona

Team Barcelona

– For more on their style of play, Read “How to Play Like Barcelona”.

10.  La Liga (Spanish Professional League) team FC Barcelona will have at least 14 players playing in World Cup 2014 for a few different countries including Brazil, Argentina, and of course, Spain.

– Portuguese is the #5 most popular language spoken in Spain, but FC Barcelona just launched a new website in Portuguese.  It’s not for their border neighbors Portugal, though.  It’s for their huge Brazilian fanbase.


 Not Enough?

Honestly, there’s a ton more to know about the World Cup, so if you’ve got some time, you should check out the article: Team-by-team guide to the 32 nations gunning for glory at the 2014 World Cup from the UK’s Daily MailThey’re British and claim to know a lot about soccer.

Then again, the British are actually just a bunch of know-it-alls.


About Author

Mike Slatton is a 2nd generation American youth soccer coach since 1984, and the son of one of the nation's first female licensed youth soccer coaches (Anita Slatton, 1979). He's also a professional soccer scout, a player since 1977, and the father of three adult and teenage children who all play or have played the game. "My job as a youth soccer coach is to develop detail oriented problem solvers who can react quickly under pressure. This relates to life - not just soccer."


  1. I never knew that the 32 teams in the World Cup soccer are categorized into 4 “pots”. My son is a soccer fanatic and is always excited about the World Cup. Thank you for the information on this tournament so I can understand it better.

  2. Jessica Daniels on

    I love the time and energy you’ve put into your website and the insight you offer. Youth soccer has been both challenging, rewarding and a little depressing, but the detailed information you offer puts it into perspective. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material.

    Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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