How do seeding, matchups work for the World Cup knockout stage?

Qatar 2022 World Cup logo (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
Qatar 2022 World Cup logo (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images) /

The World Cup is about to advance from group play to the knockout stage. So, how does seeding work for the bracket?

The FIFA World Cup has been one for the ages already. We’ve seen Argentina and Portugal both upset in group play despite rostering Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, respectively. For those of us watching from America, we’ve enjoyed watching USMNT advance in exciting fashion to the knockout round.

How many teams advance to World Cup knockout round?

The knockout round is comprised of 16 teams. The top two teams from each of the eight groups advance to the knockout round, meaning half of the field goes home after the knockout round and half of the field advances.

How does seeding work for FIFA World Cup?

Seeding was determined prior to the World Cup for group decisions using FIFA World Rankings.

To determine the groups, four “pots” were created. Qatar as the host team took the first slot in Pot 1. The rest of the pots were organized (mostly) sequentially with eight teams in each pot.

To form the groups, one team is randomly selected from each pot, giving each group a front-runner, two mid-tier teams, and a possible upset team.

That made Group A the easiest one since it ended up with two teams ranked 46th or higher since the host country was ranked 51st in the world.

How are matchups determined for World Cup knockout stage?

The matchups for the knockout stage are predetermined, which is why it’s important to know how the seeding and groups were assigned.

  • Winner of Group A plays runner-up of Group B
  • Winner of Group B plays runner-up of Group A
  • Winner of Group C plays runner-up of Group D
  • Winner of Group D plays runner-up of Group E
  • Winner of Group E plays runner-up of Group F
  • Winner of Group F plays runner-up of Group E
  • Winner of Group G plays runner-up of Group H
  • Winner of Group H plays runner-up of Group G

So, as of Friday afternoon, the matchups look like this in one half of the bracket:

  • Netherlands vs United States [Winner moves on to face Argentina vs Australia]
  • Argentina vs Australia [Winner moves on to face Netherland vs US]
  • Japan vs Croatia [Winner moves on to face Winner of Group G vs South Korea]
  • Winner of Group G (Brazil or Switzerland/Serbia/Cameroon) vs South Korea [Winner moves on to face winner of Japan vs Croatia]

And they look like this in the other half:

  • England vs Senegal [Winner moves on to face winner of France vs Poland]
  • France vs Poland [Winner moves on to face winner of England vs Senegal]
  • Morocco vs Spain [Winner moves on to face winner of Portugal vs runner-up of Group G]
  • Portugal vs runner-up of Group G (Brazil or Switzerland/Serbia/Cameroon) [Winner moves on to face winner of Morocco vs Spain]

The winner of each half of the bracket will move on to face each other in the Winner’s Match to determine who wins the 2022 World Cup.

Next. 3 things we learned from USMNT group stage. dark