The World Cup begins today — what to know, where to watch (w/video)

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The entire world except three of its most populous nations (China, U.S. and India) has succumbed to World Cup soccer fever. As the controversial monolith that is FIFA takes over Rio de Janeiro in what's been one of the most controversial settings for the tournament (yeah, but wait till FIFA hist oil magnate hub Qatar in 2022), soccer fans everywhere — even a good many here in the U.S. of A., as evidenced above — are downright stoked about the international soccer championship that's beginning today with Brazil vs. Croatia at 4 p.m. Click here for the full schedule.
Fox Sports reports on favorites to win and dark horses, and CL contributor Ray Roa talks about the dark side of FIFA's dominion and World Cup fever.

While it is possible to see all of the games at home, catching them with other fans adds excitement to the ritual. Count on British and Irish pubs like soccer mainstay MacDinton's, Four Green Fields and O'Toole's in Brandon. For Latino fun, several bars and restaurants along the Armenia Avenue corridor will give mucho play to South American teams — especially Colombia. Renzo's Argentine Steakhouse on Kennedy Boulevard will bring in a hearty contingent too. Here are a few sure bets for catching World Cup soccer action in Tampa Bay:

Tequilas 2014 World Cup Extravaganza The Ybor City Mexican restaurant-bar will be showing the games on all eight of its big-screen TVs with merchandise giveaways and specials. Tequilas Taco Tequila Bar, 1613 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa.

Independent Bar and Café Tampa All games on the big screen and some Euro beer soccer stuff will be passed out throughout the championship. 5016 N Florida Ave., Tampa.

Germania Hall Pinellas County's German-American Society is setting up the front hall for FIFA viewing in the headquarters of oom-pa-pa fun. 8098 66th St N., Pinellas Park, 727-541-6782,

The Pub Tampa Bay at International Plaza hosts "The World's Finest World Cup Party."

And the Tampa Bay Rowdies are hosting World Cup Watch parties. has created an indie playlist to get you into the mood.

Attention, foodies: Al Jazeera offers a lively and completely subjective global conversation about the merits of the national cuisine of each of the 32 countries competing in Brazil. 

Thrillist offers Three Cachaca drinks to help you get your spirits up during the World Cup.

Are you a wild England soccer hooligan or a conflicted Holland? Take a quiz at The Guardian's website that shows you which World Cup team you would be if your essence was conveyed by way of a futbol team.

One of our favorite World Cup promos, from Beats by Dre ...

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