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Watching the World Cup: What You Need to Know

Members of the German World Cup soccer team warm up during a training session in Berlin, June 5. Germany will play Costa Rica on June 9 in the tournament's opening match.
Members of the German World Cup soccer team warm up during a training session in Berlin, June 5. Germany will play Costa Rica on June 9 in the tournament's opening match.

For a month every four years, World Cup mania takes over the globe -- everywhere, it seems, except the United States. Despite the immense popularity of youth soccer here, the sport's top international event baffles most Americans.

This year's Cup takes place in Germany and begins on Friday. And unlike in previous years, the U.S. team is now a real contender. Matt Weiland, co-editor of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, talks with Robert Siegel about basic facts about world-class football (what the rest of the world calls soccer), how playing styles differ, and why the sport hasn't caught on in the United States.

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