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World Cup begins today: Preview, random fun stuff and more!

It's World Cup time. Might as well have an open thread for the fun!

Kevin C. Cox

The "other" football begins it's slightly huge tournament Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. PT, as the 2014 World Cup gets underway with Brazil facing Croatia in the opening match. The tournament's group play stage picks up steam on Friday as we'll have three matches, including Mexico-Cameroon, Spain-Netherlands, and Chile-Australia. The United States gets going Monday after 3 p.m. PT when they face off against Ghana.

Some folks here have no interest in soccer, but I imagine quite a few have some measure of interest. And even if you're not a huge soccer fan, plenty of us love the jingo-istic nature of world sporting events. U-S-A! U-S-A! (or whatever country you support!). Whatever your reasons for watching, the World Cup features the best from around the world squaring off for soccer supremacy.

Over the course of the next month, this will serve as an open thread for World Cup discussion. I'll keep it pinned near the top of the page so people can have a place ot chat about the World Cup. Depending on how full the thread gets I might create another one, but for now, here you go.

Whether you're a hard core soccer fan, or you're just looking to get an idea of what the heck is going on, I highly recommend you check out SB Nation's fancy World Cup preview. It's some incredibly useful content, but it also looks really nice. Additionally, if you don't know a lot about soccer, this is a great setup breaking down everything you need to know. Give it a read, share it with your friends!

Other folks around SB Nation have come up with some unique ways to discuss the World Cup. I lack soccer expertise, so I'm not able to create a 49ers soccer lineup, or compare NFL teams to international teams. I'll leave that up to you!

My two favorites post around the network are this one setting a soccer lineup using New York Giants, and this one setting a soccer lineup using Minnesota Vikings. Ed went through a 4-4-2 set-up and broken down a player each of the ten positions, plus a goalkeeper. Anybody want to try and do that for 49ers players? I know a little about soccer, but don't know enough about the positions to even begin pondering this.

Over at Bucs Nation, they looked at the four NFC South teams and compared them to World Cup teams. Again, I know who the good teams are and who the bad teams are, but I'm not entirely sure how the four NFC West teams compare to international squads. Any thoughts?

And finally, we've got a look at the World Cup from a college football perspective.

I don't have much knowledge about soccer, but I have a basic understanding of things. My lack of greater expertise did not stop me from getting into some pools with friends. We have 8 people in each pool, and there was a draft for teams, with each person getting four teams. I'm doing three of them, and my teams are set up as follows.

Pool 1: Belgium, England, Nigeria, Algeria
Pool 2: Belgium, Colombia, Nigeria, Bosnia
Pool 3: Uruguay, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria

So, I'm big on Belgium, Colombia and Nigeria. Take that however you want. For now though, enjoy the World Cup!