2014 World Cup winners, Germany (Agencia Brasil)The 21st FIFA World Cup football tournament kicks off on 14th June 2018, when hosts Russia play Saudi Arabia in the 80,000-seater Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 different stadiums across Russia. For the first time, the tournament will include Iceland, with a population of 335,000, the smallest country ever to qualify for the finals. On 15th July the final will be played, also in the Luzhniki. The tournament is contested by 32 nations every four years. The first world cup was held in, and won by, Uruguay in 1930. It was the idea of Jules Rimet, then president of FIFA (Féderation Internationale de Football Association). Just 13 teams participated in the first tournament.
World Cup 2014 final, Germany v Argentina (D. Borges)
The 32 countries are drawn into eight groups of four teams. Each team plays the other, gaining three points for a win, one for a draw. At the end of the group stage, the two teams with the highest number of points from each group advance to the knockout stage. Matches are then played between the 16 surviving teams, with the victorious eight sides advancing to the quarter-finals. The four victors of that round play in the semi-finals, with the two winners contesting the final.
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