People crowd around a fire to keep warm

Too often these kinds of posts dissolve into “fun facts and trivia” for the unknowing non-soccer person at a European Cup viewing party, where the author expects the CL newbie to memorize a set of disjointed tidbits in order to try and pretend they know about football when they don’t. This is useless, unless you’re David Mitchell in Peep Show.

That doesn’t mean these guides are entirely useless, however. Here instead are some conversation-starting questions you can throw out there once in a while during the game to goad those who do care into conversation, whereby you might be able to pick up some interesting facts about the two finalists to recycle on Monday at work. They don’t require you to pretend you know something that you don’t, but they give you a means to demonstrate you’re at least paying attention, and to prompt conversations to distract people in the room from the fact you’ve spent the entire game plus extra time playing Minesweeper for iPhone.

“So, I heard that Juergen Klopp is really crazy, like he once took out his entire team on a crazy camping trip, and they like, love the team forever and when one guy leaves, they all like cry and stuff.”

Just read and study this entire Klopp interview. It’s a gold mine of leading questions for the one or two people in the room who read it and desperately want to talk about it, and Klopp is basically football’s man hero of the moment. If an advertiser managed to get Klopp and Pirlo to do an Apple vs PC style ad, the Internet’s face would collectively explode out clouds of messy red goo.

“So how much money do team’s get for winning the Champions League? I heard it’s a lot but not really enough to rely on to run a club better and buy better players.”

This is a bit of a weird one and possibly a conversation stopper so maybe hold off on it a bit. In any case, the answer is that the winner of the final gets €10,500,000 in addition to earnings from previous rounds, the loser €6,500,000 in addition to earnings from previous rounds, and both get a share of the TV rights revenues as determined by the relative strengths of their domestic TV markets in something called “the market pool.”

The point is here: people will start making wild guesses about how much they win, at which point you say, “I think I read somewhere that…” and fill in the above figures. Once they double check you on wikipedia or whatever, you’re good.

“Do you guys know about the Mario Gomez button?”

Pray that they don’t. This one will get you a free pass out of the conversational loop for ages and make everyone else very, very happy.

“I heard Jupp Heynckes is like, crazy good. And he’s leaving Bayern? He must be regretting that, eh?”

Now while Heynckes is almost certainly set to leave Bayern Munich, and has been in the game for fifty years, and has claimed he’s retiring, you can pivot off this reaching BR post to start speculating over whether Heynckes will go to another club and not retire after all. Don’t worry about guess over possible destinations. Everyone around you will speculomasturbate on this idea for at least the next ten minutes.

“So if all these guys like that Goetze guy and the Polish striker are leaving Dortmund, who’s going to replace them?”

Risky. Someone will venture dumb guesses at a host of international stars that Dortmund could not possibly afford. At which point you might add, “But can Dortmund afford to just go out and buy whatever player? Aren’t they not that rich by soccer standards?” At which point you will be the smartest person in the room, and you can drink the extra beer guilt-free. If someone says, “They can use the CL pot money!”, then pull out the big guns in the question above.

Ideally, someone somewhere will say, “I don’t know. Good question. The youth team?” And relax.

“Wait, if some players are good because they give that extra bit of effort and raise their skill for the big final, aren’t they underperforming the rest of the time?”

This question courtesy of James Grayson, will hopefully blow some minds, or start an interesting debate among you and your friends. It should.

“I’ve watched Barcelona a few times, and Bayern are awesome but they play completely differently. I heard that Pep Guardiola has only really ever managed at Barcelona. And Bayern are so good this season, no doubt in part down to luck as well as skill, that chances are they’ll not be as good next year. So he’s pretty much going to have a bad time next year, no?”

Yeah, you might not want to use this one. I like it though. And again, if some person goes on about Pep taking players with him from Barcelona to Bayern, just mention that while Bayern is pretty wealthy by German standards, there’s no way they’ll be able to match Barcelona’s staggering wage bill, even if only for one or two players. Is this getting too inside baseball? Probably. So…

“Ha ha, Robben. Not even Robben’s team-mates like Robben.”

Everyone will laugh and nod. You now have permission to check your phone for the next 45 minutes.