Each group competes in a round-robin format, with each team playing three matches against other teams in the same group. This implies that each group has a total of six matches. Each group's top two teams progress to the knockout stage. Teams within a group are ranked using points. If two or more teams are tied on points, they are then separated by their ranking according to how many goals they have scored (or conceded).
All groups and the overall tournament finish with one winner and one loser. The winners of each group advance to the next stage, while the losers are eliminated from the competition.
Every match is played as a single leg game, with only those matches that are undecided going into extra time. If scores are level after 90 minutes of play, then a series of kicks will be taken by a designated referee to determine a winner. He will signal the end of the game by blowing his whistle; once he does so, any player from either team can request a penalty kick by raising their hand above their head. The goalkeeper can block any shot by a non-kicking player, but cannot block shots from outside the box. A penalty kick is taken by a player who enters the field of play from the penalty mark located 3 yards (2.7 m) from the goal line.
Penalty kicks are taken in a straight line from the spot where the foul was committed to the goal.
When the group stage begins, the teams participate in a round-robin system in which each country only plays the other three countries in the group once. A win is worth 3 points, a draw is for 1 point, and a defeat is worth 0 points. In the knockout stages, however, the losing team is ousted from the event, while the winner advances to the next round. If a match ends in a tie, then no winner can be determined and it is declared a draw.
The most successful country in the tournament is Brazil with 13 titles to its name. The Netherlands are second with five titles. Other countries that have won the trophy include Uruguay, England, Italy, and France.
The first ever World Cup was held in 1930 in Argentina. It was originally planned as a series of matches between the winners of the major national leagues in Europe and South America. However, when these competitions finished, there were still no world champions, so the organizers decided to add some extra games to the schedule. The final list of participants included all the major powers of the time: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, USA.
The first game of the tournament was played on June 2, 1930 and it was called off due to rain delays and poor conditions.
World Cup Group Stage Structure The competition begins with eight four-team groups. Each group follows a round-robin format with no additional time. Teams receive three points for a victory, one point for a tie, and no points for a defeat, with the top two teams from each group advancing to a 16-team knockout stage. If a match is tied after 90 minutes of play, there is a 30-minute extra time period. If the score remains tied, the match will be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
All groups played on a single day, with the exception of Group A which was played on June 14th and Group F which was played on July 5th. The last four groups were played over two days: June 11th and 12th for Groups H and I, and July 2nd and 3rd for Groups J and K. The order in which groups play each other is determined randomly by the FIFA website. Groups A, E, and K are reserved for host countries and are not scheduled to play each other.
The winner of each group advances to the next stage, while the remaining teams go home.
Each team plays every other team in its group once, with the exception of those teams who have already been eliminated. The group winners will advance to the next stage, while the runners-up will play a two-game playoff to determine which third team will also move on.
Tournament Structure In the preliminary round, the ten teams are divided into two groups of five. The top four teams from each group proceed to the playoff round after a single round-robin series, while the fifth-placed club in each group advances to the relegation round. All games are played at the highest national level possible. For example, if one country only has male professional ice hockey leagues, then their women's team would play against international opponents.
The quarterfinals are best of three series with the exception of the final which is a best of five game series. The semifinals are usually held on the same day as the quarterfinals.
The gold medal game is always held on the Sunday of the last day of competition. The bronze medal game follows 24 hours later.
In case of a tie during the playoffs, a penalty shoot-out will be used to determine a winner. If still tied, the winner is determined by an overtime period.
Since its inception in 1990, the most successful nation has been Canada with nine titles. Russia is second with seven medals including four golds. The United States is third with six medals including three golds.