Any time math is involved for a team to advance to the next round, it can be a bit confusing. The World Cup group stage point system is fairly straight forward. First, only two results earn points, wins and draws. For every win, a team earns three points, and a tie earns one point. Teams do not get a point for a loss.
It is important to note that the point system is only relevant during the group stage. Once teams advance to the Round of 16, it becomes a single elimination tournament where the winner advances. There is extra time and penalty kicks, if necessary, after the group stage.
For the group stage, the top two teams in each group based on the point standings advance to the knockout stage. All 32 World Cup teams play three matches in the group stage to determine who advances. According to Bleacher Report, if teams are tied after three matches, tiebreakers are determined by goal difference then goals scored and finally the head-to-head matchup.
The final day of the group stage takes place on June 28, and the Round of 16 begins on June 30. The quarterfinals take place on July 6-7, and the semifinals run from July 10-11. The World Cup final is on July 15 in Moscow.
Qualifying for the World Cup is a bit more complicated. The world is split up into different regions, and each region is awarded a set amount of qualifying spots. The same point system is used to determine who advances in each region based on the qualifying matches. The World Cup has a long history, but only a handful of teams have been victorious. The following countries have won a World Cup: Brazil (5), Germany (4), Italy (4), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), Spain (1), France (1) and England (1).
Soccer fans have the Olympics to thank for the start of the World Cup. FIFA president Jules Rimet started the World Cup tournament in 1930 after soccer was dropped from the 1932 Olympics. Here’s how History.com described the start of the World Cup.
After football (soccer, to Americans) was dropped from the program for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, FIFA President Jules Rimet helped to organize an international tournament in 1930. Much to the dismay of European footballers, Uruguay, winner of back-to-back gold medals at the 1924 Paris Olympics and 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, was chosen to host the inaugural World Cup.
Due to depression in Europe, many European players, afraid their day jobs would not exist when they returned, were either unable or unwilling to attend the tournament. As a result, some of the most accomplished European teams, including three-time Olympic gold medalist England and football enthusiasts Italy, Spain, Germany and Holland did not make an appearance at the first World Cup. However, when Uruguay agreed to help pay traveling expenses, Rimet was able to convince Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia to make the trip. In Romania, King Carol selected the team members himself, gave them a three-month vacation from their jobs and guaranteed the players would be employed when they returned.