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A Bluffer's Guide to the World Cup

11/06/2014 16:40 BST | Updated 11/08/2014 10:59 BST

The World Cup is nearly upon us, and although that will bring excitement for many, there will also be a large number of people dreading a month filled with conversation about the competition.

One option is to pretend it's not happening, but that's not so easy when all your friends are talking about or it's say your boss or client chatting away and they're expecting you to contribute.

On these occasions feigning interest is your only real option, and this bluffer's guide should help you to keep up and maybe even look like a bona fide football fan.

Topic 1: Fifa corruption

The golden rule here is that everyone hates Fifa. So start out by expressing contempt for how Fifa is ruining the game and is rotten to the core. For bonus points slip in a mention of the corruption in the World Cup being given to Qatar, and try linking Fifa's misdemeanours with corporate sponsors.

Topic 2: Corporate sponsors

No-one likes corporate sponsors so you'll be on safe ground slagging them off. To really appear convincing, reflect wistfully on a more innocent footballing age (the 1970 World Cup, Carlos Alberto and all that) - football fans love nostalgia. Whether you were even born in 1970 or not is irrelevant.

Topic 3: England

There's so much scope here but there are a few major routes you can go down.

One is to portray yourself as the self-loathing, long suffering fan: "I'm sorry, but after all the heartache we've suffered over the years, I just can't get excited." This makes it seem as if you care too much if anything.

Another is to play the percentages and say you simply don't like English footballers: "I find it very hard to support this bunch of lazy, over-pampered prima donnas." This is a slightly risky approach as the current England team are more palatable than previous ones, but saying you don't like modern footballers is a path of little resistance.

Play the role of the confident fan: "There isn't one outstanding team at this year's World Cup and we've got an exciting group of young players so why not." This approach is dependent to a large extent on acknowledging that it has become extremely unfashionable to expect England to do anything at a tournament.

The en vogue tactic seems to be to keep saying how low expectations are for England in the hope that that will somehow trick us, the team and the rest of the world into the Three Lions winning it.

Topic 4: Belgium

Ah Belgium, for so long the go-to team for anyone wanting to put forward what seemed like an alternative opinion, before the side became such a known quantity that it was abandoned disdainfully by football hipsters. Belgium is a sort of footballing Shoreditch - cast aside as it became too mainstream.

So you need to be very careful with the Red Devils. With a more discerning crowd, you could point out that they must be the most fancied 'dark horse' in history, but for those who have better things to do with their lives than read the Blizzard (the Sine Qua Non of football hipsterism) and obscure football blogs, tipping Belgium may not be quite such a cardinal sin.

Topic 5: How will Spain get on?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but no team has retained the World Cup since Brazil in 1962? You're not wrong, and with that nugget, you've smoothly entered this debate. But what to say about Spain? Best to go with something like...Tiki-taka is dead guys, just look at how Pep Guardiola's Bayern side were pulverized by Real Madrid (ignore the fact that they are a Spanish side) and Barcelona aren't the team they used to be.

Topic 6: Who's going to win the thing?

Again audience is key here - if you're just trying to fit in and not show off, your best bet is to go with one of the favourites, like Brazil or Argentina.

If you want to get a raised eyebrow or a 'this person knows their stuff' type reaction, go with one of the less fancied but respected nations. Perhaps Chile ("trust me, they've got a midfielder Marcelo Diaz who is like the South American Xavi") or Columbia ("I know Falcao's out but Jackson Martinez could be lethal") or maybe Bosnia and Herzegovina ("Miralem Pjanić and Edin Dzeko is a pretty handy frontline").

These topics are of course just a taster of what could be thrown at you over the next five weeks, and there's no way you can be prepared for every eventuality.

If you're really struggling and have given up hope, just look out of the window wistfully, reassured by the knowledge that you won't be spending next Monday night watching Iran v Nigeria.