After four long years of waiting, soccer fans around the globe will join together celebrate the 22nd running of the sport’s quadrennial championship. The FIFA World Cup will kick off next week from Qatar in its first foray as tournament host, putting the best players, teams, nations, coaches, fans and more against each other in a month’s worth of matches. A journey that started with 206 squads in qualifying over two years ago finally reaches the climax, with 32 football nations against each other in one of the world’s top sporting spectacles.
The group stage is set to kick off on Sunday, November 20, when host nation Qatar takes on Ecuador in the opening match at 8:00 AM PT. Two weeks of group stage play will follow, with four matches a day to determine which teams secure top-two spots and a berth in the knockout stage. All the action can be caught locally on FOX40 or on Fox Sports 1.
Group Stage: Nov. 20 – Dec. 2
Round of 16: Dec. 3 – Dec. 6
Quarterfinals: Dec. 9 and 10
Semifinals: December 13 and 14
Match for Third Place: December 17
Final: December 18
All 32 squads have announced their rosters and begun preparation for the opening of the group stage on November 24. With 26 players on each roster, 832 players will be representing their nations in this year’s tournament.
Just one team – host nation Qatar – is making their World Cup debut. A few notable sides will make a return after missing out on the 2018 competition, including the United States, Ecuador, Ghana, and the Netherlands. Two nations will break decades-long droughts when their first match kicks off – Canada will appear in the World Cup for the first time since 1986, and Wales will compete for the first time since the 1958 edition of the tournament, which was only the sixth World Cup to be contested and featured just 16 teams.
Every team will have a different definition of success in this year’s tournament. For perennial heavyweights Germany, Argentina, Brazil, and defending champion France, it’s a return to the late rounds. Others will be looking simply to advance into the knockout stages and prove they belong on the game’s biggest stage, or shock the world by taking down a juggernaut. 24 teams will set out looking to become just the tournaments 9th unique champion – of this year’s field, only Brazil, Germany, Argentina, France, Uruguay, Spain and England have ever lifted the trophy.