Over the course of the four weeks of the competition, all the other nations had to pack up and head home from Qatar after falling short of fulfilling their ultimate dream. Croatia and Morocco stuck around to play the third-place match which saw Croatia win a place on the podium.
That was followed by the knockout rounds, a series of single-elimination matches in which a winner needed to be determined on the day. If teams were tied at the end of 90 minutes, then 30 minutes of extra time were played, and if the deadlock persisted, a penalty shootout determined the winner.
- Group stage: Sun, Nov. 20 – Fri, Dec. 2
- Round of 16: Sat, Dec. 3 – Tue, Dec. 6
- Quarterfinals: Fri, Dec. 9 – Sat, Dec. 10
- Semifinals: Tue, Dec. 13 – Wed, Dec. 14
- Third-place: Sat, Dec. 17
- Final: Sun, Dec. 18
With so many nations involved, The Sporting News tracked the teams as they were eliminated throughout the tournament in Qatar.
Teams out of the World Cup: Every nation eliminated
The table below was updated throughout the 2022 tournament as teams fell by the wayside. The most recent team eliminated is at the top.
Host nation Qatar were the first team ousted, and they were followed by Canada as both failed to pick up a single point in their first two matches of the group stage. A total of 16 teams were eliminated after the group stage, and another eight were knocked out in the Round of 16.
The group stage closed on Friday, Dec. 2, and the Round of 16 was completed on Dec. 6, with the quarterfinals wrapping up in two days on Dec. 9-10. The semis were also played over two days on Dec. 13-14. The third-place match (Dec. 17) preceded the final on Dec. 18.
|France||4||Dec. 18||Final||Loss vs. Argentina (penalties)|
|Morocco||22||Dec. 14||Semifinals||Loss vs. France|
|Croatia||12||Dec. 13||Semifinals||Loss vs. Argentina|
|England||5||Dec. 10||Quarterfinals||Loss vs. France|
|Portugal||9||Dec. 10||Quarterfinals||Loss vs. Morocco|
|Netherlands||8||Dec. 9||Quarterfinals||Loss vs. Argentina (penalties)|
|Brazil||1||Dec. 9||Quarterfinals||Loss vs. Croatia (penalties)|
|Switzerland||15||Dec. 6||Rd of 16||Loss vs. Portugal|
|Spain||7||Dec. 6||Rd of 16||Loss vs. Morocco (penalties)|
|South Korea||28||Dec. 5||Rd of 16||Loss vs. Brazil|
|Japan||24||Dec. 5||Rd of 16||Loss vs. Croatia (penalties)|
|Senegal||18||Dec. 4||Rd of 16||Loss vs. England|
|Poland||26||Dec. 4||Rd of 16||Loss vs. France|
|Australia||38||Dec. 3||Rd of 16||Loss vs. Argentina|
|USA||16||Dec. 3||Rd of 16||Loss vs. Netherlands|
|Serbia||21||Dec. 2||Groups||Loss vs. Switzerland|
|Cameroon||43||Dec. 2||Groups||Switzerland win vs. Serbia|
|Uruguay||14||Dec. 2||Groups||Goals scored tiebreaker|
|Ghana||61||Dec. 2||Groups||Loss vs. Uruguay|
|Germany||11||Dec. 1||Groups||Goal difference tiebreaker|
|Costa Rica||31||Dec. 1||Groups||Loss vs. Germany|
|Belgium||2||Dec. 1||Groups||Draw vs. Croatia|
|Mexico||13||Nov. 30||Groups||Goal difference tiebreaker|
|Saudi Arabia||51||Nov. 30||Groups||Loss vs. Mexico|
|Tunisia||30||Nov. 30||Groups||Win by Australia vs. Denmark|
|Denmark||10||Nov. 30||Groups||Loss vs. Australia|
|Iran||20||Nov. 29||Groups||Loss vs. USA|
|Wales||19||Nov. 29||Groups||Loss vs. England|
|Ecuador||44||Nov. 29||Groups||Loss vs. Senegal|
|Canada||41||Nov. 27||Groups||Loss vs. Croatia AND
Morocco win vs. Belgium
|Qatar||50||Nov. 25||Groups||Loss vs. Senegal AND
How many teams play in the World Cup?
Since the 1998 edition of the tournament, there have been 32 nations that qualify to every the men’s FIFA championship held every four years.
That is set to change.
Beginning with the 2026 World Cup in North America (USA, Canada, and Mexico) the field will be expanded to 48 teams. The group stage will consist of 16 groups of three teams each with 32 teams advancing to the knockouts.
Careful not to add to the players’ workload, the total number of matches at the tournament will grow from 64 to 80, but the number of matches for any single team will not increase.
The maximum number of matches that the winning team will play at the 2026 World Cup is the same as in 2022: seven total matches.
In 2022, teams played three group matches followed by a maximum of four knockout stage contests for teams that make the final or third-place match. In 2026, the eventual winner will still play seven matches: two group matches and five in the knockouts on the way to hoisting the trophy.