World Cup 101

Get your no.2 pencils, ladies and gents because it’s time for:

WC 101

If you’re not sure what the terms group stage, three points, or top two teams have to do with the World Cup then you’ve come to the right place! We realize not everyone knows some of the basics behind the world’s most watched tournament and that’s totally fine because we’re here to catch you right up to speed before the first game even begins.

What is the World Cup?

  • It’s like the Olympics of football – it’s a really big tournament, it’s very difficult to win, it’s every four years, a lot of people watch it, and it’s Awesome.

Who plays in the World Cup?

  • Almost every country in the World has a national team to represent it in major tournaments like the World Cup.
  • Each continent has World Cup qualifications where those nations play each other to determine who goes on to play.
  • Because no continent has the same number of countries each one has a different number of countries that earn the right to play at the World Cup. The allocation this year goes as such: Europe (13), South America (6*), Africa (5), Asia (4), North America (4), Oceania (0), Antarctica (0**)
  • Total teams – 32

*Brazil automatically qualified being the host nation

** Antarctica doesn’t have a national team

How is the tournament played out?

This may seem like a lot of information but take my word for it, it’s not too difficult to understand. We made it nice and simple for you 🙂

  • Football is a game where each team starts 11 men and the games are played for two halves each lasting about 45 minutes unless more time is necessary (more on this in a bit).
  • Each of the 32 teams have been placed in one of the eight groups shown below



  • There are two main parts of the tournament – the group stage and the knockout stage.

Group stage

  • The teams in each group play only each other at this stage.
  • This means each team is guaranteed at least three games in the World Cup.
  • The winner of the game gets three points, the loser gets zero points, and if the scores are tied at the end of the game each team gets one point.
  • Once the teams in each group play each other the points mentioned above are tallied.
  • The top two teams go on to the next stage of the tournament and the two bottom teams do not.
  • Here is an example from last world cup after all games were played – Argentina and South Korea went on to the next stage whereas Greece and Nigeria did not.


(via the ever trusty

Knockout stage

  • Here is where it gets truly exciting. The remaining 16 teams now play knockout games where the winner goes on and the loser does not.
  • Take a look at the graphic below. Since Uruguay beat South Korea they went on to the next game to play the winner of the Ghana vs. USA game.



  • There are no draws like there can be in the group stage.
    • If the scores are tied after the two 45 minute halves an extra 30 minutes are played.
    • If the scores are still tied the two teams go on to a penalty shootout.
  • This goes on until only two teams are left and the winner is World Champion!

Oh..and the champions get to hold on to this for four years

World Cup Trophy

  • Stands 37 cm tall
  • Weighs 6.1kg
  • Made of solid 18 carat gold
  • Gorgeous.

So there you have it! You can breathe a little easier now and you’re ready for June 12th!

Have any questions or comments on what else I should put on here? Write ‘em below! 

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