It's finally here.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins today, with host nation Brazil taking on Croatia at 4 pm ET. It marks the first time since 1950 that the home of futebol hosts the crowning tournament in global soccer. With Spain attempting an unprecedented four straight major tournament titles, England and the U.S. looking to navigate difficult groups, and the home nation trying to carry the burden of national expectations, it's sure to be a tournament to remember.
To get you ready, then, here's a look at all you need to know to put you in a record-breaking state of mind ahead of kick-off in São Paulo.
WORLD CUP REWIND
Over the past week, we've been taking a look back at some of the most memorable records broken in the history of the World Cup in our "Rewind" feature.
We started and ended in Brazil, with our first piece taking a look at Ronaldo's career goals record in the competition, and our last revisiting the attendance record set in the 1950 final that still stands today.
In between, we marveled at the 1958 tournament of Just Fontaine, fondly reminisced on the 1994 World Cup in the U.S., recounted the fastest goal in the competition's history, recalled the fastest ejection from a game (above), and jumped in the time machine to the latest title-winning goal way back in 2010.
We might be biased, but I'd say if you're looking for a great World Cup history lesson before Brazil, to check out as many of the links above as you can.
WHAT TO EXPECT
History's great and all, but, what to expect from this year's tournament?
Our records team will of course be keeping an eye on any potential records being broken, and be sure to follow us not only here on the site, but also on Twitter @GWR for the latest. Here are five achievements prime for the breaking:
1.) Most consecutive World Cup victories by a team
Spain enter the tournament having won six matches in 2010. They stand five victories away from Germany's record 11 from 2006. Spain would have to go victorious through to at least the semifinal to take it.
2.) Most career World Cup goals scored by an individual
As highlighted in the Ronaldo piece above, the Brazilian is retired on 15 goals. Nipping at his cleats, though, is Germany's Miroslav Klose. The ageless wonder stands at 14 goals heading into Group G play.
3.) Most World Cup goals scored all-time by a team
Germany's pretty good, aren't they? Die Mannschaft have scored the second most all-time goals in the competition with 206. Who do they look up at? Well, Brazil. Also pretty good. OCanarinho have scored 210 all-time goals and will look to hold off the Germans, who could overtake the record with an impressive showing.
4.) Oldest player in a World Cup
Roger Milla played at age 42 years 39 days for Cameroon at the 1994 World Cup, the oldest man to ever see the pitch (he also scored). Faryd Mondragon has found a place on this year's Colombia squad just nine days shy of his 43rd birthday. If the backup keeper finds the pitch, the record is his.
5.) Most red cards all-time by a team
While we hate to see ugly play, tempers could certainly flare in Brazil, what with the searing temperatures and suffocating humidity of some venues combined with the endless travel. Coincidentally, Brazil own this record with 11 all-time reds drawn. But, South American neighbors Argentina and Uruguay sit right behind them with 10 and 9, respectively.
Lastly, if you're not in the spirit yet, then maybe Jan Schrøder La Caille of Denmark can get you there. Inspired by his 8-year-old son, who wants to grow up to be the fastest dribbler in the world, La Caille recently broke the record for the fastest marathon dribbling a football/soccer ball. You can check out the story in the first-ever episode of our new YouTube series, "Spotlight."
But enough talking, enough previewing -- it's time to samba, time to cheer, and time to enjoy the beautiful game. Be sure to check back for our recaps after every round, and may whatever team you root for have the good fortune of enjoying a long summer.
And for the latest on all things world record, visit Guinness World Records on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and our brand-new Instagram. Plus check out Guinness World Records on YouTube to subscribe for the latest record-breaking videos!