Beginner's Guide to German Soccer
The things you need to know so you’re not asking silly questions at the soccer watch party
I wasn’t much for sports as a child. Whenever it was time for gym class and the teacher announced that we would be “playing softball”, “playing basketball” or really playing anything that involved a team and a ball, I was not a happy camper. I preferred dance, crafts or coloring… Fast forward 20ish years and I was dating a soccer fan who loved German soccer and knew so much about it… and I knew jack sh*t. I would assume that I’m not the only person out there that would like to be more knowledgeable about the team that my date and other friends love so much.
I reached out to some of my soccer enthusiast friends and family to bring you this: Beginner's Guide to German Soccer (and yes, I know that there are lots of you guys and gals who play soccer and know all about it… but I wasn’t one of those people, and I know there are more soccer dummies out there like me).
The Basics of the Game
Soccer is a game played by 2 teams of 11 players with a round ball that may not be touched with hands or arms during play except by the goalkeepers (or keeper as the people in the know call it). The object of the game is to score goals by kicking or heading the ball into the opponents’ goal.
Soccer is known to pretty much the rest of the world as Football (because you use your foot… makes sense). So, in German it’s Fußball.
Games consist of two 45 minute continuous halves with stoppage time added by the referee. The ref adds time to the end of the game based on stoppage time… which is like if a player gets hurt, the ref has to talk to the coach or something else happens. You can expect to spend about 2 hours watching a soccer game. Games can end in a tie except for final games or games in which they need a very clear winner.
What’s with the colored cards?
- Yellow cards are given for unintentional dangerous play… they’re like warnings
- Red cards are given for intentional dangerous play (like an intentional headbutt)
- 2 yellow cards = red card
- If you get a red card, you’ll get suspended based on the severity of the foul
- There is no such thing as green cards in soccer
What are the boxes
- 18 yard box is literally a marked box 18 yards around the goal where the keeper is allowed to use his hands
- 6 yard box is another box inside the 18 yard box
So what are Fouls, Penalties and Offsides about?
A foul is when you are not going for the ball and you’re not doing something nice. Examples of a foul would be: slide tackling from behind or touching the ball with your hands (handball). A player can pull on another players shirt, if their trying to get the ball, but if a player does it to make the other player fall or is just being a dick about it… that’s a foul.
- If you commit a foul, based on the severity of the foul, you can receive: a talking to by the ref, a yellow card, a red card, and /or the opposing team receives a free kick.
- A free kick is from outside the 18 yard box and the other team can build a “wall” of players standing next to each other to try and block the kick. This wall has to be 10 yards away from the ball.
Penalties happen when a foul occurs in the 18 yard box.
- If you commit a penalty, based on the severity of the penalty, you can receive: a talking to by the ref, a yellow card, a red card, and /or the opposing team receives a free kick.
- A penalty kick is 12 yards out from the goal, one on one with the goalkeeper
- Offsides is when the attacker is in front of the last defender when the ball is kicked. There has to be a defender between or level with you when the ball is kicked to you. This is kinda complicated and just avoid conversations about this… I can’t wrap my brain around it
Top soccer competitions that you should know
There's plenty of different competitions in the world of soccer and true fans don't miss any of them. But let's talk about essentials and talk a bit about the biggest competitions.
- FIFA World Cup - the international competition held by FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) and, as you might already guess from the title - participants are from all over the world. World Cup is held every 4 years, each time in a different country (though some countries hosted this competition several times). Total number of teams is 32 - the ones that have passed the Qualification stage starting usually several years before the actual competition. Word Cup tournaments have 2 stages: the group stage followed by the knockout stage. Current record for most World Cup titles holds Brazil, winning 5 of them (in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002). The current trophy holds France National Team who had defeated Croatia in 2018 final. The World Cup is the most prestigious association soccer tournament in the world, as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games.
- UEFA European Football Championship, or simply Euro - basically same competition as World Cup but participants are national teams from Europe. This competition also holds every 4 years, 2 years from World Cup (so if we had World Cup in 2018, Euro will be held in 2020 respectively). There are total 24 teams-participant and of course they all passed long way of qualification and also new tournament called UEFA Nations League, which also gives the right to participate in Euro to the most successful teams. To be honest, I'm not totally sure how to explain the qualification process, because with adding Nations League in 2016 it became super confusing. To date, Spain is the only team in history to have won consecutive titles, doing so in 2008 and 2012. And guess who is the current champion winning Euro-2016? France also, imagine how successful are these guys!
- UEFA Champions League - another super important competition for soccer fans. The major thing that you need to know is that this one is contested by top soccer clubs, not national teams. In its present format, the Champions League begins in late June with a preliminary round, three qualifying rounds and a play-off round, all played over two legs. The six surviving teams enter the group stage, joining 26 teams qualified in advance. The 32 teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams and play each other in a double round-robin system. The eight group winners and eight runners-up proceed to the knockout phase that culminates with the final match in late May or early June. Real Madrid is the most successful club in the tournament's history, having won it 13 times, including its first five seasons. Liverpool are the reigning champions, having beaten Tottenham Hotspur 2–0 in 2019 final.
Facts about the German National Team
- The German national soccer team is one of the most successful national teams at the FIFA World Cup, winning four titles, earning second-place and third-place finishes four times each and one fourth-place finish. Germany has won World Cups 1954, 1974, 1990, 2014!
- The German national team has several nicknames - Nationalelf (national eleven… 11 players on the field), DFB-Elf (Deutsche Fußballbund Eleven), Die Mannschaft (The Team… this is the most common one… know this!).
- The Team was present in 19 out of the 21 tournaments; the second most frequent, and only once did not reach the quarterfinals, in 1938.
- The national team's home jersey’s and stuff, (what they wear at every home game) has always been a white shirt, black shorts, and white socks. The away shirt color has changed several times, but a green shirt with white shorts is the most often used combination.
- No nation has played more World Cup matches than Germany - 106 in total. As a result, they have scored the most (124) and conceded (goals scored against them) the most (121) goals in the tournament. And in recent years, Germany has scored the most World Cup goals (14 in 2006, 16 in 2010, 18 in 2014).
- The 2014 World Cup final against Argentina stayed goalless until the 113th minute (second half of extra time) when Mario Götze scored the winning goal.
- The dramatic 1-7 result when Germany defeated Brazil in 2014 was the biggest winning margin in a World Cup semi-final or final. The outcome was also the worst loss by a host country in World Cup history, as the six-goal difference doubled the previous record margin.
- Appointed in July 2006, German national team coach Joachim Löw is currently Europe’s longest-serving national coach. 2018 World Cup was Löw’s sixth major competition as Germany’s coach, reaching the semi-finals every time (2nd in Euro 2008, 3rd at South Africa 2010, semi-finalist at Euro 2012, champions in Brazil 2014, semi-finalist at Euro 2016).
- Since 2014, German player Miroslav Klose is the all-time top goal scorer at FIFA World Cup final tournaments.
Another German player, Lothar Matthäus, is the FIFA World Cup's all-time record player with the total of 25 matches in 5 World Cups.
- Germany was the only UEFA team to win all their World Cup-2018 qualifiers and had the best goal difference (+39).
- At World Cup 2018 Germany made up Group F alongside Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea.
- After Germany's showing at the Confederations Cup in 2017 with a 3rd string young team, they stunned people with the depth of players and their skills at a young age.
Generally, Germany plays a 4-2-3-1 formation
- 4 Defenders, 2 holding mids, 3 attacking midfielders and 1 striker.
Rookie mistakes to avoid when going to a soccer watch party:
- Don’t wear all the Official Germany gear and not knowing anything about the team. You’ll want to know a handful of the players on the team:
- Manual Neuer – aka the best goalkeeper in the world! He plays for Bayern-Munich and would be the captain of the 2018 team (unless he can’t play due to injury in which case it will be Thomas Mueller).
- Thomas Müller – plays for Bayern-Munich and has participated in 3 World Cup tournaments and he currently has 10 World Cup goals
- Joshua Kimmish - He is a breakout star for Bayern-Munich and currently played only 1 international tournament - 2018 World Cup
- Not wearing something with the German colors. You don’t need to have the official jersey, but you should at least try to wear some Schwarz, Rot, Gold… black, red and yellow (the colors of the German Flag). Borrow something from a friend or check out some of these items:
- Follow the team – before you show up to a soccer watch party, know where your team stands and where they are in the tournament.
Top 5 Incredibly Good Looking German Soccer Players (in no particular order):
photo source: https://fcbayern.com/en/teams/professionals/manuel-neuer
Marc-Andre ter Stegan
photo source: https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/marc-andre-ter-stegen-player-stats
photo source: https://www.bundesliga.com/en/news/Bundesliga/noblmdwp-centre-back-of-the-hinrunde-part-one-jerome-boateng.jsp
- Mats Hummels
photo source: https://www.bavarianfootballworks.com/2018/1/23/16923468/mats-hummels-bayern-munich-champions-league-jupp-heynckes-treble
- Toni Kroos
photo source: https://metro.co.uk/2018/02/19/manchester-united-target-toni-kroos-jose-mourinho-plots-midfield-three-paul-pogba-nemanja-matic-7325043/
7 Fun Facts to Whip Out at a Soccer Watch Party:
- In 1966, just prior to the tournament, the World Cup trophy was stolen and went missing for 7 days.
- The 1970 the World Cup hosted by Mexico was the first to be televised in color.
- Uruguay won the first World Cup in 1930 (which they hosted).
- In 2010, 46.4% of the world watched the World Cup making it the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world.
- The World Cup winning country is rumored to see a baby boom 9 months after the World Cup.
- In fact, Hyundai even created a commercial based on this fact.
- Every World Cup has been won by a coach who is the same nationality as his team.
Ok… so I think I’ve set you up pretty good for serious success with any upcoming soccer watch party you may be going to. Do you have any other suggestions, tips or facts that I should have included in the guide? Or maybe a question that I didn’t answer? Post it up in the comments!!! I love hearing from you!
Special Thanks to Stefani Spitz and my husband for all the helpful info and to my sister for helping choose the most delicious soccer players with me!
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