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Get Ready For Some Football: 3 Key Things About Today's 'Manchester Derby'

If you don't know that Manchester United and Manchester City are facing off later today in a "derby" of critical importance to which team emerges as champion of soccer's English Premier League, we won't hold that against you.

But as The New York Times says, the game is reaching "far beyond Manchester." It's being broadcast not only in the U.K., but "to 650 million homes in 203 territories."

"Sixteen overseas broadcasters," the Times adds, are going to be beaming coverage of the contest.

Those include ESPN, which goes live from Manchester at 2:30 p.m. ET.

English Premier League soccer, which features many of the world's best players, has been gaining in popularity in the U.S., and broadcasters here have been looking to tap into the interest (even tape-delayed EPL broadcasts have gotten better ratings than Major League Soccer in the U.S.). Not only are they broadcasting big games such as today's, but as Bleacher Report has written:

"U.S. broadcasters will combine to [air] every single EPL game of the final matchday live starting at 10 a.m. May 13th. ... Disney Corporation-owned ESPN2 and the many channels owned by News Corp. will be the broadcasters for the event, with ESPN2 getting first pick of the matches based on their contract with the league. You will be able to jump around all you like between ESPN2, FX, SPEED, FSN, FUEL TV, Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer Plus, with one simulcast on Fox Deportes. There will also be one game streamed live through FoxSoccer.com and two through Fox Soccer 2Go. Fox will even have live cutaways to the other matches."

But let's get back to today's big game. For those who, like us, may want to know a few key things about it, here goes:

-- United is atop the league "table," but is only three points ahead of second-place City. Wins are worth three points. So a City victory would mean the teams were tied with just two league games remaining for each. A draw would give each team one point. With a win, United could nearly wrap up the league title.

-- "United have the edge in the head-to-heads, having won 67 of the 161 matches between the two clubs with City coming out on top in 44," the BBC says. "However, the last time the two sides met in the league, City thumped United 6-1 — the Red Devils' heaviest-ever Premier League defeat and the first time they had conceded six goals at Old Trafford since 1930."

-- The key to the game could be whether United can keep the pace of play slow. "They can control the game brilliantly when playing at their own tempo, yet can be overrun when the opposition increases the pace," writes The Guardian's Michael Cox.

For all you fans, best of luck. Enjoy the game.

Oh, and one more thing. What's a derby?

It's a match "played between two teams in the same region."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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