Buck:'Are you going to be watching the World Cup this year?'
Juan:'Of course I am. My team Spain is playing in it. Hasn't your team qualified for the World Cup as well?'
Buck:'Yes, the United States is playing. But I don't expect us to win any games, we are not a very good team. In the last game, we played against England and we lost by 5 goals.'
Juan:'I remember, the final score was England 5 the United States 0. Buck, we don't normally say game in football, we normally call it a match.'
Buck:'I'm American, so I don't know a lot about soccer. That's what we call football in America. So what happens in a World Cup?'
Juan:'It's a tournament where 32 national teams try to win the world cup, the trophy.'
Buck:'So how do they do that?'
Juan:'Teams play matches against each other in different rounds. In the first round, which is called the group stage, each team plays in a group with three other teams. For example, in the group that England is in, there are also Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica. And each of these teams plays one match against each other.'
Buck:'OK, so how many teams go through or progress to the next round after the group stage ends?'
Juan:'At the end of the three matches the two teams that have the most points will go through to the next round and the two teams which have the least points will be knocked out, they will be eliminated from the tournament and not play any more matches.'
Buck:'What do teams get points for?'
Juan:'In the group stages, you get 3 points for winning a match, 1 point for drawing and 0 points for losing.'
Buck:'So what happens if the teams that finish second and third in the group have the same points. Which team goes through to the next round?'
Juan:'When this happens, the team which has the biggest goal difference will go through. For example, if team two has a goal difference of 3 (it scored 6 goals and conceded 3 goals in its 3 matches) and team three has a goal difference of 4 (it scored 5 goals and conceded 1 goal in its 3 matches), then team three would go through to the next round, which in the World Cup is called the last 16 (because there are 16 teams left in the tournament in this round).'
Buck:'I've heard people call all the rounds after the group stage, the knockout stages.'
Juan:'Yes they are, because the teams left in the tournament only play one match in each round and the teams which lose are eliminated/knocked out. So, in each round from 'the last 16' until the very last match in the World Cup, which is called the final, the teams play one match to progress to the next round.'
Buck:'So after 'the last 16', teams go through to the next round that is called the quarter-finals I suppose?'
Juan:'That's right, the 8 teams that won in 'the last 16' go through to the quarter-finals. And then the 4 teams that win their matches in this round progress to the semi-finals. And the two winning teams from the semi-finales play each other in the final.'
Buck:'I know that in these knockout stages/rounds each team only plays one match. But what happens if they draw at the end of the match? The final score is 0 - 0 or 2 - 2.'
Juan:'In the knockout stages, they have to continue playing the match until one of the teams wins. If after full time (90 minutes) it is a draw, they then play another 30 minutes. This is called extra time. If it is still a draw after extra time, they then go to penalties, where 5 players of each team each have to take a penalty. The team which has scored the most penalties at the end wins the match.'