The road to the World Cup starts with qualifications held in the 6 FIFA confederations - Africa, North and Central America and Caribbean, Asia, South America, Oceania, and Europe. Each confederation oversees the qualifications, while FIFA decides the number of spots each confederation gets based on the strength of the teams in the confederations.
Qualifications start as early as 3 years before the event and spread over 2 years. Qualification formats vary depending on the confederation. As it stands, the host country gets automatic qualification.
The FIFA World Cup formats have changed over the years. Currently, the tournament attracts the 32 teams that qualify and pits them in adrenaline-filled action for an entire month. There are two main stages: the group stage and the knockout stage.
In the group stages, there are 8 groups, each with 4 teams that battle it out in a round-robin championship where each team plays the other 3 teams in the group. A team gets 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, and 0 for a loss. After the 3 matches are played, the number 1 and 2 teams advance to the knockout stage.
The FIFA World Cup knockout stage is a single-elimination tournament where teams face off in one-off matches. The knockout stage starts with the round of 16 before advancing to the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finally culminating in the finals. For the record, teams that lost in the semi-finals battle it out for third place on the eve of the finals.