FIFA World Cup - Format - Final Tournament

Final Tournament

For the various formats used in previous tournaments, see History of the FIFA World Cup#Format of each final tournament.

The current final tournament features 32 national teams competing over a month in the host nation(s). There are two stages: the group stage followed by the knockout stage.

In the group stage, teams compete within eight groups of four teams each. Eight teams are seeded, including the hosts, with the other seeded teams selected using a formula based on the FIFA World Rankings and/or performances in recent World Cups, and drawn to separate groups. The other teams are assigned to different "pots", usually based on geographical criteria, and teams in each pot are drawn at random to the eight groups. Since 1998, constraints have been applied to the draw to ensure that no group contains more than two European teams or more than one team from any other confederation.

Each group plays a round-robin tournament, in which each team is scheduled for three matches against other teams in the same group. The last round of matches of each group is scheduled at the same time to preserve fairness among all four teams. The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage. Points are used to rank the teams within a group. Since 1994, three points have been awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss (before, winners received two points).

The ranking of each team in each group is determined as follows:

  1. Greatest number of points in group matches
  2. Greatest goal difference in group matches
  3. Greatest number of goals scored in group matches
  4. If more than one team remain level after applying the above criteria, their ranking will be determined as follows:
    1. Greatest number of points in head-to-head matches among those teams
    2. Greatest goal difference in head-to-head matches among those teams
    3. Greatest number of goals scored in head-to-head matches among those teams
  5. If any of the teams above remain level after applying the above criteria, their ranking will be determined by the drawing of lots

The knockout stage is a single-elimination tournament in which teams play each other in one-off matches, with extra time and penalty shootouts used to decide the winner if necessary. It begins with the round of 16 (or the second round) in which the winner of each group plays against the runner-up of another group. This is followed by the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, the third-place match (contested by the losing semi-finalists), and the final.

Read more about this topic:  FIFA World Cup, Format

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