FIFA World Cup Group Stage Rules
The FIFA World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world, featuring the 32 best national teams in the world competing in a round robin tournament. In round robin tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup, teams are separated into groups based on a random draw. The teams in each group play one another for a chance to move on to the knockout round. Read on to learn more about how the group stage works in the FIFA World Cup.
How Many Teams Are In Each Group?
In the FIFA World Cup, there are eight groups containing four teams each in the group stage of the tournament. Thus, there are 32 teams total in the tournament. Each team will play each other once throughout the group stage, guaranteeing each team plays at least three games.
How Are Groups Determined In The World Cup?
Groups for the FIFA World Cup group stage are determined by a ranked draw that happens months before the tournament. The 32 teams that have qualified for the tournament are divided into four “pots” of eight teams, each based on world ranking, for the draw. The pots are divided as follows:
- Pot 1: Host nation and teams ranked 1-7
- Pot 2: Teams ranked 8-15
- Pot 3: Teams ranked 16-23
- Pot 4: Teams ranked 24-32
On drawing day, each of the eight groups drawn must have no more than one team from each pot. Therefore, every group will have one representative from each of the pots. Since the host nation cannot draw another team from the first pot in their group, they are considered to have an advantage. This system ensures balance among the groups.
Points During the Group Stage
Much like in other major soccer tournaments around the world, points are awarded for a win or draw in a match in the FIFA World Cup. A win is worth three points, a draw is worth one point, and a loss is worth no points in the FIFA World Cup group stage. Since each team plays three games in the group stage, the maximum number of points they could receive in the standings is nine, while the lowest they could tally is zero.
The top two teams in each group after every team has played the three group stage games move on to the knockout stage, while the bottom two teams are eliminated.
Tie Break Rules During The Group Stage
Though teams typically advance based on who has the most points after all three games in their group are finished, some teams finish the group stage with the same number of points. In these tied points situations, teams are advanced according to their goal difference. Whichever team has scored the most goals in their three matches moves forward. If the teams are tied in both points and goal difference, advancement is determined by total goals scored.
If teams are still tied in terms of points, goal difference, and total goals, the remaining tie breakers are as follows:
- Head-to-head result
- Highest goal difference in head-to-head matchups
- Highest total goals in head-to-head matchups
- Most disciplined team (Lowest number of cautions and red cards)
- Random draw
Group Stage Rules Summary
- The first pot is always made up of the host nation and the top seven ranked qualified teams.
- Pots 2-4 are based on the world rankings of each team (8-32).
- All World Cup participating teams are randomly assigned into eight groups of four.
- Each group cannot have more than one team from each pot.
- Teams are awarded three points for a win, one for a draw, and zero for a loss.
- The top two teams in each group in terms of points move on to the knockout stage.
- If teams are tied for number of points after all three games are finished, advancement is determined by goal difference.
- If teams are tied for both points and goal difference, team placement is determined by goals scored.
- If teams are tied for points, goal difference, and goals scored, the head-to-head result of the group stage game between the two teams determines the winner.
How many games do teams play in the World Cup?
Each team plays at least three games in the World Cup. These three games are played during the group stage, where the four teams in each group play each other once. If a team finishes in the top two spots of their group, they will continue to play at least one more match in the knockout rounds. If a team finishes in the bottom two spots of their group, they will be eliminated.
How do you advance in the FIFA World Cup group stage?
In the FIFA World Cup, the top two national teams with the most points in each group are allowed to advance. Based on their performance in the three games of each group, teams are awarded three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss. If there is a tie in points, advancement is determined by goal difference. If there is still a tie, advancement is determined by goals scored.
How are points awarded in the FIFA World Cup group stage?
A win is worth three points, a draw is worth one point, and a loss is worth no points in the FIFA World Cup group stage. Each team plays each other group member once for a total of three games. After each team has played their three games, the top two teams in the group in terms of points move on to the knockout stage.