If you aren’t really into soccer, I can’t begin to imagine how strange this time of year must be for you. Whilst the rest of the planet—quite literally—is gearing up for the World Cup, here’s your chance to get up to speed on the world’s most watched sports competition.
The meeting of different cultures, the vibrant color, the fervent fandom and the unhinged passion are all unique facets that make the World Cup an unyieldingly gripping spectacle. It’s a feast of top-class sport played at the very highest level. There’s no other event that produces such a packed schedule of encapsulating action.
If you’ve never watched the finals before or never been that into soccer, it must be difficult to get it like the rest of us. And you might be thinking that with a week to go until the 2014 showpiece kicks off, that you’ve missed the boat again.
But fear not, there’s still time to unashamedly jump on the World Cup bandwagon, we can absolute guarantee it. We’ve got you covered with all the basics when it comes to getting you up to speed with the tournament format so you can enjoy the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to its full capacity.
SEE MORE — Download the World Cup Bracket so you know when the games are on and at what time.
The World Cup is comprised of eight groups, each containing four teams. Typically, the hosts open the tournament with the first game, but occasionally the holders can kick things off, like France did against Senegal in 2002. With the pressure on, there can be some pretty spectacular results.
In the group, each team plays the other one time. A win will get you three points, a draw will get you one and naturally a defeat will get you zero. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the second round.
If two teams are tied on points, the side with the superior goal difference—the number of goals scored subtracted by the number of goals conceded—will progress.
The final two fixtures in the group stage are played at the same time, meaning that we can get some pretty dramatic moments as sides battle to make it to the last-16. The most exciting group stage finale in recent years was when Landon Donovan scored an injury time winner against Algeria to send the United States team into the knockout stages.
The knockout format will see a team that finishes top of their group play a team that has finished second in theirs. So for example, the winner of Group A will player the runner-up in Group B, whilst the winner of Group B will play the runner-up of Group A.
Here’s the full tournament bracket for this year’s competition to provide you with a better understanding of how this works:
Aside from that, it’s all pretty self-explanatory. If you win you go through, if you lose you go home. Win four knockout games in a row, and you’re the world champions.