A 48 team World Cup in 2026 - How has the World Cup format changed since 1930?
1934- ITALY - 16 TEAMS - 17 MATCHES:
It wasn’t long before the format of the FIFA World Cup was changed. The second World Cup, hosted in Italy, meant that many European teams could make a much simpler journey to compete. Qualifying for the tournament saw thirty-six nations competing, being narrowed down to 16 teams to compete in the tournament.
This enabled FIFA to desert the group stage and go straight to a knockout format with the even number of teams that could compete. Eight teams were seeded, meaning none of those seeded would play one other in the first round. The knockout stages all featured extra-time to settle a draw. However, in the case of the quarter-final between Italy and Spain, a replay match had to be played to decide a victor, with penalty shoot-outs not being included in the tournament.