World Cup Format

The 2014 World Cup tournament finals remains unchanged from the one used for the past four tournaments.


Qualification for the 2014 World Cup began in June of 2011 and ran until November of 2013. A total of 239 national sides competed in qualifying in the six FIFA qualifying regions – Asia, Americas, South America, Africa, Europe and Oceania.

The format of the qualifying tournaments varied between regions, depending on the number of competing teams. For example the CONMEBOL region (South America) featured a single stage round robin tournament, while there were four rounds of qualification in the AFC (Americas) region.

World Cup group stage

The first match of the 2014 World Cup group stage marks the start of the World Cup finals.

In this stage of the tournament the 32 qualifying teams are divided into eight groups of four teams. Each team then plays the other teams in its group once. Unlike some previous world cups where teams have ‘home’ stadiums, stadiums will now host matches from various groups during the 2014 World Cup.

The opening group stage fixture will feature hosts, Brazil, up against Group A rivals Croatia on the 12th of June 2014. This phase of the tournament will run for the next two weeks, concluding on the 26th of June following the conclusion of all 48 group fixtures.

There are going to be a variety of betting opportunities on offer during the group stage of the 2014 World Cup, and top bookies will be offering over 50 betting markets on each match. This is also the stage of the tournament where you’ll want to keep an eye on the outright winner market, as team odds are likely to fluctuate in the early stages of the event.

The group stage of the tournament is a good time to use trading as a strategy. You can lay over-hyped teams with low odds before this stage starts and then back them as their odds climb in order to guarantee a profit. Or you can trade by backing promising outsiders when their odds are high ahead of the tournament and then lay them if their odds start to drop.

If you want to keep your bets simple, then place your bets on the tournament winner market and top scorer market before the group stage begins. The best strategy to use in both markets is to back more than one selection, ensuring that any one winning bet will cover your losing selections and produce an overall profit (visit our World Cup winner odds and Golden Boot odds pages for more info).

This is also the best time to place accumulator bets, tying two or more bets together into a single bet. A good way to do this is to back the favourites in a series of mismatches. While you won’t get great odds on a strong favourite in any one match, you can get great odds by combining several of these into one accumulator bet.

2014 World Cup knockout stages

At the end of the group stage the two top ranked teams in each group will progress to knockout rounds of the tournament. The winners of each group will benefit from a better seeding in the Round of 16, which will draw them against a runner-up from another group.

If two or more teams in a group finish this stage of the tournament on equal points, officials will decide which team progresses to the next round using the following measures:

  • The team with the higher goal difference
  • The team that scored the most goals in the group stage
  • Points scored in the group stage matches between the tied teams
  • Goal difference in the matches between the tied teams
  • Number of goals scored in the matches between the tied teams
  • If all of these are still equal, the FIFA organizing committee will draw lots to determine which team progresses

The knockout rounds of the 2014 World Cup will begin on the 28th of June 2014 with the first Round of 16 fixture. Eight matches will be played between the 28th of June and the 1st of July, leaving the remaining eight contenders to clash in the tournament quarterfinals.

The quarterfinals will be played over the 4th and 5th of July, with the four winners scheduled to compete in the semifinals on the 8th and 9th of July. All the semifinalists will participate in another fixture, with the losing semifinalists contesting the 3rd place playoff on the 12 of the July, while the World Cup final will take place on the 13th of July in Rio de Janeiro.

The elimination stages of the 2014 World Cup will see the introduction of a new match format to guarantee that each match produces a winner. In the event that a match is drawn in normal time (90 minutes + injury time), the match will proceed to extra time with the addition of two fifteen minute halves. If the match is still tied after extra time the result will be determined via a penalty shootout. No Golden Goal will be used, which means the team scoring first in extra-time will not automatically win the match.

Betting on the knockout rounds

Betting activity is going to increase during the knockout rounds of the World Cup as the tournament builds momentum. By this stage of the tournament you should have a much better idea of the form and ability of the competing teams, and should use this to your advantage.

One way to do this is to use the live betting markets, where you can bet on fixtures in-play based on your analysis of team form. Top bookies are going to offer some great betting specials during this stage of the tournament, so look out for free bet offers on the in-play markets as this is an easy way to build up your bankroll.

The outright winner and top scorer markets will still be open for business during the knockout rounds. By this stage of the tournament these markets will have settled and strong favourites will have emerged in both markets, which means there will be fewer opportunities to cash in on outsiders at high odds.

The 2014 World Cup final

The 2014 World Cup final is the most important betting event in the world. You’re going to see bookies go all out to offer extra value on this event, so expect to see a lot of betting specials to be offered in the days leading up to this event.

Keep an eye out for the specials on offer and make sure that your bets allow you to qualify for these offers. Money back specials and odds multipliers are great ways to hedge your bets for the final and increase your chances of making a profit.

More on World Cup betting

If you want more World Cup betting information then visit our World Cup predictions page now, or visit our match previews center for our latest previews and betting tips for forthcoming World Cup fixtures.