All you need to know about the World Cup finals

The finals of the FIFA World Cup in football feature the national teams of 32 countries, making it one of the most significant sporting events in the world. With this year's World Cup, the competition will have been held 22 times since its inception in 1930.

All you need to know about the World Cup finals
Everything an avid fan of the World Cup Finals needs to know. Image: FIFA

One of the most important events in the world of sport, the football World Cup finals bring together the national teams of 32 countries. The World Cup will mark the 22nd time the tournament has been held since 1930.

When and where are the finals played?

The finals are hosted by the Gulf state of Qatar in eight stadiums in five cities. For the first time, the World Cup will be played in an Arab country.
The finals will run from 20 November to 18 December.
Qatar and Ecuador met in the opening match on 20 November (2:0, Ecuador won).

What is the format of the final tournament?

In the first phase of the tournament, the 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four teams each.
The groups will play a round-robin tournament until 2 December, after which the top two teams will advance to the eighth round.
The tournament will then be played in a knockout format until the cup winners are decided.

Which teams are participating in the championship?

Europe is the most represented with 13 national teams, followed by the Asian zone with six teams. Africa is represented by five national teams, while South America and North/Central America each have four national teams.

Who are the favorites for the final tournament?

Bookmakers and statistical analysts give the best chances of winning the World Cup to the South American countries Brazil and Argentina. France, the current holder of the trophy, is not far behind in the predictions, while Spain and England are further down in the top five favorites.

Who are the highlights of the final tournament?

The finals always bring out great new talent, but it is the veterans who have had illustrious careers so far who will be of particular note. The Argentinian team is counting on Lionel Messi, the Portuguese team has Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez will strengthen the Uruguayan squad and the Brazilians are relying on the talents of Neymar in the attack.

Will the best players play in the final?

The qualifiers, alongside host Qatar, are the teams that made it through to the finals. Italy, the reigning European champions, did not make it past the qualification barrier. Colombia, group winners in the previous final, and Sweden, quarter-finalists in 2018, were left behind. Injuries to strong players had a significant impact on several teams. African champion Senegal will be without striker Sadio Mané, while France will be without Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kanté in midfield.

Which teams have the best record in the finals so far?

Brazil has won the World Cup five times, ahead of all the competition.
Germany and Italy have won the World Cup four times each.
Eight national teams have won the World Cup at least once.

Which clubs are best represented in the final?

Last-minute decisions may affect the situation, but according to the initial entries, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, and Barcelona have 16 players each. Manchester United (14) and Real Madrid (13) could also be well represented.

Why does the final only start in the second half of November?

Qatar's hosting of the finals has been widely and harshly criticized because of the unbearable heat in the northern hemisphere summer in the Gulf countries, which is the usual time for the World Cup. This is why the finals are held at the end of the year, even though many countries have had to revise their home clubs' seasonal calendars as a result. Qatar has also been criticized for the working and living conditions of migrant construction workers at World Cup infrastructure sites.

How will teams' results be tabulated?

In group-round matches, a win will earn a team three points, a draw will give one point and a loss will not secure any points. If several teams finish with the same number of points in a group, the next primary indicator for the ranking will be the difference between goals scored and goals conceded in all matches.

The decisive factors will then be, in order, the number of goals scored in all matches, the number of points scored between the teams to be decided, the goal difference between the teams to be decided, the number of goals scored between the teams to be decided, the fair play in all matches and the draw as the last resort.

How will the knockout tournament be played?

The eighth-finals will be played between teams from different groups, with the pairings being 1A-2B, 1B-2A, 1C-2D, 1D-2C, 1E-2F, 1F-2E, 1G-2H, and 1H-2G.
The grid for the subsequent rounds will be clear after the eighth-final pairings and there will be no additional draw for the subsequent rounds.
In the event of a tie after regulation time in a knockout match, the teams will play 2x15 minutes of extra time. If this does not help to decide the winner, a post-match series of 11-meter kicks will be decisive.
The finalists will meet in the title match on 18 December in Lusail, while the semi-final losers will face the 3rd-place winners the day before in Alrajan.

Are there any additional prizes for the final?

The Golden Soccer Boot will be awarded to the player who scores the most goals. If several players have the same highest number of goals scored, the number of assists will be the deciding factor according to the jury and less time spent on the pitch will be the next factor. The Silver and Bronze Football Boots will also be awarded to the next highest-ranked players.
The Fair Play Award will be given to the team with the best disciplinary record.
The Golden Glove Award will be presented to the best goalkeeper as judged by the jury.
The Best Young Player Award will be given to a footballer selected by the jury who was born no earlier than 1 January 2001.