Millions of people around the world are following the FIFA World Cup. Over the last few weeks, the initial thirty-two teams have been narrowed down to the final four teams. Before the semifinals for the FIFA World Cup begins, let's go over everything you need to know.
For some general information, thirty-two teams qualify for the FIFA World Cup each year. In the first round of games—called the Group Stage—the teams are sorted into eight groups of four teams each. Within these groups, every team plays every other team, so the top two teams qualify for the next round. In the second round of games—called the Round of 16—every team is paired with another team, so they play only one game. As a result, there can be no ties from this point onward. The way ties are settled is as follows: if there is a tie after 90 minutes, 30 minutes of extra time is included; if there is still a tie after 120 minutes, they go to penalty kicks. After the Round of 16, winning teams advance to quarterfinals, then semifinals, then finals.
We've just closed out the quarterfinals on Saturday—so we're down to the top four teams: Argentina, Croatia, France, and Morocco. To catch some highlights of the last few games, here's a quick recap of the tournament so far.
First, let's talk about goals. One of the best goals this entire tournament would be the two goals scored by Netherlands player Wout Weghorst. He scored in the 83rd and 101th minute of the game to bring the Netherlands 2-2 with Argentina during the last few seconds, forcing them into extra time. Although Netherlands wound up losing to Argentina, it was still one of the best goals of the tournament. Another big goal was one Christian Pulisic scored for the USA against Iran, bringing the USMNT to the Round of 16. It was a pretty big deal, considering the team had failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018, so reaching the Round of 16 was a big change for the better.
Now, onto the biggest surprises so far. Of recent games, the biggest surprise was undeniably Brazil's loss against Croatia. Going into the tournament, Brazil was definitely one of the favorites to win the entire World Cup, so it was definitely a shock to see them eliminated in the quarterfinals. There were also some less significant, but still shocking, upsets from earlier in the tournament. For example, early on, Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia—which was quite the shock for millions around the world.
The first game in the semifinals will take place on December 12 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time, with Argentina and Croatia playing each other. Although the last time Argentina and Croatia played, which was in the 2018 World Cup, Croatia won 3-9 against Argentina, the latter team remains the favored team. More notably, Croatia has won two of its penalty shootouts so far—the first against Japan in the Round of 16 and the second against Brazil in the Quarterfinals, making them an even more daunting opponent. On the other hand, Argentina has played particularly well, winning every single one of their games since the initial loss to Saudi Arabia, so it's definitely a tight game regardless.
The second game in the semifinals will take place on December 13th at 2:00 pm Eastern Time, with France and Morocco playing each other. Although France is definitely the favored team in this case, considering they've done extraordinarily well so far and are returning champions from the 2018 World Cup, Morocco has done surprisingly well, too. They haven't lost a single match so far, with only one tie against Croatia—something even France cannot boast about, having lost to Tunisia 1-0 in the Group Stage. In the Quarterfinals, they defeated Portugal, one of the favorites to win the tournament—so that definitely makes them an intimidating opponent.
How to Watch
The easiest way to watch the World Cup would be on Fox Sports—they televise every game. Most newspapers and magazines run updates throughout the games as well, which are pretty interesting to read; The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Athletic have some of the best commentaries throughout the games.
Regardless of how you're watching the World Cup or who you're rooting for—these next few days are sure to be an experience to remember!