Well, that was quick. It feels like the tears on the faces of Brazil fans in Belo Horizonte have barely dried, but it’s time for us to do it all again.
I’m talking about the World Cup, of course, which has crept up on us like a devastatingly heavy defeat on a defence without the suspended Thiago Silva.
You’ve done some of the groundwork, figuring out which days you need to book off work to watch the important games and double-checked your TV still works, but there’s always something you’ve forgotten about. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.
Get Kitted Out
Looks like someone forgot that face paint without Dri-FIT is a total no-no.
Your choice of replica shirt will say a lot about you as a person, so choose carefully.
- England 2018 kit? You probably watched the Royal Wedding at your local.
- Retro England kit? You actively request ‘Three Lions’ on karaoke nights.
- Portugal/Germany/France You think you’re the best player in your work five-a-side team but you’re wrong.
- Argentina/Colombia? You think you’re the best player in your work five-a-side team and you’re right
- Japan/Nigeria/Peru? You like wearing football shirts in public, even when there’s no football on.
- Zaire 1974? You’re trying too hard.
Pick a Pub
There’s an unwritten rule about pubs during the world cup, namely that if it doesn’t show football during the regular season then you’ll want to avoid it for major tournaments. There are, however, a couple of notable exceptions.
- If it has screens up in the garden. Watching on outside screens is objectively better than not doing that
- If the pints are dirt cheap, because obviously.
- If it’s not a pub, but rather a restaurant with links, however tenuous, to a participating country. Nothing quite compares to watching an Italy match on a massive projector, surrounded by families tucking into a three-course set meal, though Italy’s failure to qualify will mean you need to look elsewhere. Which brings us on to…
Get the ‘Local’ Experience
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a big city, you’ll probably have plenty of opportunities to try out the cuisine of a fair few of the countries involved. At the last World Cup, for example, I was able to take in bars and restaurants associated with Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Mexico and Ghana, with mixed results.
The Belgian bar in question had 2-for-1 drinks specials for as long as the Red Devils remained in the tournament, which was great news for us but may or may not be behind said bar no longer existing, while, in retrospect, watching the Netherlands v Argentina semi-final at an Argentinean restaurant while wearing a Dutch shirt might have been a mistake.
If your options are limited then you could – nay, should – recreate the ambiance at home. If you’re watching a Brazil game, why not make yourself a couple of caipirinhas. Before settling in for Iran v Portugal you can grab yourself some peri peri chicken and a kebab from your local takeaway. And, of course, when the moment comes to flick the TV on for Denmark’s opener, it’s high time for that bottle of Aquavit you nabbed from your parents’ drinks cabinet and pledged never to touch again after last time. The normal rules don’t apply if you’re doing it as a show of fandom.
Watch Every Game
See which of these England fan types you can avoid at your local during the World Cup
The World Cup can, and should, be treated like football’s equivalent of international waters. Those responsibilities you have for the other 11 months of the year can be put to one side, however briefly.
Thinking about doing some DIY? It can wait. Friend’s wedding? Only if they’re showing England v Panama at the ceremony. Time with your nearest and dearest? Of course - it’s called half-time.
The beauty of a World Cup, or indeed any summer international tournament, comes from the fact that even the bad games are good. Euro 2016 included one of the worst combinations of three games in living memory, but no one who put their life on hold to soak up the sun and watch Wales accidentally edge past Northern Ireland had too many complaints (well, unless they were a Northern Ireland fan, but let’s not dwell on that).
Maybe I’m only saying this because I accepted an invitation to go bowling during the 2006 World Cup and missed Argentina do this, but who’s to say?
Music is Important
There are three songs you’re allowed to listen to during a World Cup: ‘Waving Flag’ by K’Naan, ‘World in Motion’ by England/New Order, and ‘Three Lions ‘98’ by Baddiel and Skinner & The Lightning Seeds.
Listening to the original Euro '96 version of ‘Three Lions’ means when England go out (and it really is when, not if), it will be entirely your fault. We only want you to be prepared.
Make Sure Your Work Works For You
Now, we’re not saying you should quit your job just so you can take in the whole World Cup (though maybe if… no, it’s a bad idea), but there are some things you can do to make the whole experience run a bit more smoothly.
Here’s a guide to the half-days you’ll need to book off to catch every minute of every game, and it’s certainly a less watch-after-work-friendly tournament than the one in Brazil four years ago.
However, if your boss knows you at all, they’ll know how hard you find it to concentrate when you’re working and there’s football on, so either (a) they’ll let you change your hours or (b) just go all out and have the games on-screen throughout the office.
The best case scenario, of course, is them being an even bigger football fan than you and changing the entire office’s work hours to make sure everyone’s done when the football kicks off, even if that means 4am starts. Oh, did we mention that you won’t really sleep for a full month? Well, there it is.
Hopefully, by now you’re all set for the World Cup, with a big colour-coded and annotated spreadsheet for every game. What do you mean you weren’t colouring it in while reading this?
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- nataliya semenenko
- Becky Levers