World Cup 2014 Knockout Stage Format: Explaining Rules of Post-Group Action

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2014

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23:  Neymar of Brazil celebrates scoring his team's second goal and his second of the game during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Cameroon and Brazil at Estadio Nacional on June 23, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It has been one of the greatest World Cups of all time and we have not yet even hit the knockout stages.

All the drama of the win-or-bust knockout rounds begins on June 28, with the quarter-finals starting on July 4. 

The semi-finals then take place on July 8 and 9, with the final of the tournament scheduled for July 13 in Rio de Janeiro. 

Here we take a look at the rules of the final rounds of the competition and give you the facts you need to understand how the knockout stages of the tournament work.


Round of 16

World Cup knockouts
World Cup knockoutsBleacher Report

After the complicated scenarios and mathematical headaches caused by goal difference during the group stage, everything simplifies for the round of 16 with a straightforward elimination procedure.

The teams beaten in this round exit the competition, with the winners proceeding to the quarter-finals. explains which teams from which groups will face one another.

The fixtures are arranged as follows, per the rulebook:

Group A winners vs. Group B runner-up = 1

Group B winners vs. Group A runner-up = 2

Group C winners vs. Group D runner-up = 3

Group D winners vs. Group C runner-up = 4

Group E winners vs. Group F runner-up = 5

Group F winners vs. Group E runner-up = 6

Group G winners vs. Group H runner-up = 7

Group H winners vs. Group G runner-up = 8

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 21:  Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The rulebook continues:

If after 90 minutes the match ends in a draw, extra time of two periods of 15 minutes each will be played. If the score is level after extra time penalty kicks will be taken to determine the winner.

This format is repeated as we venture deeper into the competition, with extra time and penalties ensuring draws are no longer a possibility. 

No replays take place at the World Cup. 


MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 15:  Thomas Muller of Italy in action during the international friendly match between Italy and Germany at Giuseppe Meazza stadium on November 15, 2013 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The winners of the round of 16 ties will feature in the quarter-finals. As quoted in the aforementioned rulebook, the victors will be allotted a number that will determine who their next opponents should be. 

The draw is already predetermined and is as follows, per

Winner 1 vs. Winner 3 = A

Winner 2 vs. Winner 4 = B

Winner 5 vs. Winner 7 = C

Winner 6 vs. Winner 8 = D

The four winners of these matches will then proceed to the semi-final stage, at which point hosts Brazil will hope to stand just one game away from a dream final.


SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JUNE 23:  Arjen Robben of the Netherlands controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between the Netherlands and Chile at Arena de Sao Paulo on June 23, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Gett
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As with the quarter-finals, the draw for the last four is predetermined by the rulebook:

Winner A vs. Winner C

Winner B vs. Winner D

Once again, extra time and penalties will ensure that one winner proceeds from the fixtures and determine who will contest the final for the chance to be crowned world champions.

Final and Third-Place Play-off

All four teams from the semi-finals are guaranteed one more game, with a play-off being held for the losers to determine their final positions. 

The match will be held in Brasilia on July 12, one day before the final.

The winners of the semi-finals will proceed to the showcase event to decide the winner of football's most prestigious competition.

The Scenarios

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  Colombia supporters embrace and celebrate after they defeated Japan while watching at the FIFA Fan Fest on Copacabana Beach on June 24, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Having witnessed the group stage action, we can begin to predict who will face each other as the tournament progresses. 

If Group A winners and hosts Brazil stay on track and Lionel Messi's Argentina continue to succeed with their progression, the powerhouses of South America will meet in the final.

However, Brazil may run into Germany in the semi-finals, which would be a tremendously difficult hurdle to overcome.

Argentina will also face stiff competition, possibly running into Belgium in the quarter-finals and Netherlands in the semi-finals. 

The 2014 World Cup has been a beautiful example of why so many people on the planet worship at the alter of the sport.

The potential knockout matches are mouthwatering, and if they are of the standard of the group games, we are all in for a magnificent feast of skill and entertainment.


    Woeful Messi Must Learn from Ronaldo

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Woeful Messi Must Learn from Ronaldo

    Tom Sunderland
    via Bleacher Report

    Fans Worried About Messi During National Anthem

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Fans Worried About Messi During National Anthem

    via mirror

    Made in London: Nigeria's British Connection

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Made in London: Nigeria's British Connection

    Tom Williams
    via Bleacher Report