It’s soccer world cup season and if you’re anything like me, you’ve jumped onto the bandwagon even though you don’t really watch soccer. Don’t look at me like that Paul, the excitement is kind of infectious! But how does it all work anyways? I mean, yes I know the ball must go into the net and all of that. Got it. But what’s with this points system? And who decides which teams play against which? (I mean, I’m a mother, I need to know that things are fair around here.) And most importantly, how will I know if my team is doing well? Well, I’ve decided to share all my soccer world cup knowledge with you guys. It’s not much, but it’s something atleast, right? Anyways, enough chit chat, here is my 2018 Fifa World Cup beginners guide:
How the teams are split up
So, this is trivial, but in case you wanted to know how the first round of teams are split up: The 32 teams who have qualified are split into four-team groups. The groups are drawn from four pots – so that’s basically one team from each pot. Teams are actually placed in these pots according to their position in the Fifa world rankings for October. (So there’s a piece of information you’d never thought you’d need to know.) Russia (automatically put into pot one) is the only exception, since they are the host country. In case you’re curious, the line up for the pots are:
Pot one: Russia (hosts), Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Pot two: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Uruguay, Mexico, Croatia
Pot three: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Pot four: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia
So from this, the teams were put into these groups: (Image courtesy of Fox Sports)
Spotted your team in one of the groups? Great stuff. Okay, right, what happens next? Well, your team will then play against the other three teams in their group. Points are handed out like this:
WIN – 3 points
DRAW – 1 point
LOSE – 0 points
The two teams with the most points, after these three games, will progress to the next stage of the competition. That’s right, yo. Only TWO teams!
But wait, what about a tie?!
Yes, my spreadsheet brain is totally freaking out! I mean, what happens when the group stage is finished and some of the teams have acquired the same amount of points?! AAACK! Okay, settle down Margeret. Fifa and all the other clever people who take this type of thing seriously have figured it out. In an event of a tie, the winner is determined like this:
1. Goal difference – Whoever has the highest goal difference (which is simply: goals scored minus goals allowed).
2. Goal scored – In the event where the goal difference is equal too (these things happen), the winning team will be the one with the most goals scored.
3. Head to Head – If there is STILL a tie (what witchcraft is this?!) then the team who won the head to head match will go through. (eg. If Mexico and Sweden were tied, but Mexico beat Sweden in their head to head match, Mexico would go through).
4. Fair play points – If somehow teams remained tied through all of this, officials will have a look at their disciplinary records in the tournament. So basically, if they received a yellow card its -1 point, two yellows resulting in a red card will be -3 points, straight red card is -4 points, yellow card, then straight red card will be -5 points.
5. Lots are drawn – If there is bizarrely STILL a tie names are put into a hat, so to speak, and the first name pulled will go through! Crazy stuff!
The second and final world cup stage is a knock out round! So if your team loses any game in this stage, they are knocked out of the world cup. No second chance. No redo. In the event of a tie, a game will go into extra time, which means two extra halves of 15 minutes each are played. A penalty shoot out will determine the winner if there is still a tie after extra time.
Round of 16
In this first round of knockout games, the top 8 is determined. This is the schedule:
Winners Group C vs Runners-up Group D
Winners Group A vs Runners-up Group B
Winners Group B vs Runners-up Group A
Winners Group D vs Runners-up Group C
Winners Group E vs Runners-up Group F
Winners Group G vs Runners-up Group H
Winners Group F vs Runners-up Group E
Winners Group H vs Runners-up Group G
Once the top 8 is determined, we then have the quarter-finals, semi-finals, third place play-off and then the final match! Laduuuuuma!
Right. So are you feeling a little bit more empowered and excited to get into this world cup thing? Good! Who are you rooting for? Drop me a comment below to let me know.