Format Of FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup functions within the frameworks of an extremely organized format. A team that desires to make it to a FIFA World Cup final has to first prove its mettle by fighting past the qualifying stages. Other than the first World Cup tournament, every other World Cup tournament has witnessed qualifying matches. The qualifying matches were introduced to make the final tournament a true test of champions, where the good meet the best and the best get the better of the good. The qualifying matches are played between countries belonging to a particular continental zone. The continental zones are Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, North and Central America, South America, Europe and Oceania. The number of teams that are allowed to represent each continental zone is determined by FIFA. The qualification matches for a World Cup tournament start off almost before a period of three years and can go on for around two years. Intercontinental matches are also held to zero in on the teams that are worthy enough of playing in the World Cup.
Since the 2006 World Cup, defending champions too are required to take part in the qualifying matches. This wasn’t the case with the tournaments preceding the 2006 World Cup, where defending champions were automatically given a one way ticket to the World Cup. In 2006, Brazil became the first defending champions to participate in the qualifying matches. Italy too participated in the qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup; the team had to prove that it possesses what it takes to compete at the world stage.
The final tournament comprises 32 national teams fighting against each other in the group and knockout stages. It starts off with the ‘Group matches’. The 32 participating countries are divided into eight groups with each of these eight groups comprising four teams. The top two teams of every group will advance to the knockout stages. The teams are given points to determine their standings in their respective groups. The knockout stage or the ‘Round of 16’ stage will see the topper of a group face-off against the runner-up of any other group, the loser of a match in this stage will be automatically eliminated. This stage is followed by the quarter-finals, a semi-final, a third place match to determine the second runner-up of the tournament and the glorious ‘Final’.