The World Cup finals has grown over the years to ensure that the tournament is well represented by as many teams from different confederations as possible and the coming 32 team format results in a month long tournament with 64 matches across twelve venues.
From 1934 to as late as 1978 a sixteen team format was used to decide the destiny of the World Cup which in Argentina resulted in 38 matches played over a 25 day period.
The final 1978 use of the 16 team format before moving to 24 and then 32 resulted in an initial group stage of four teams in four groups representing 5 football confederations. England failed to qualify for their second World Cup in a row in 1978 and spent the period of 1974-1982 in finals exile after automatically qualifying as hosts in 1966 and defending Champions in 1970.
The 24 team format of 1982 resulted in the tournament being lengthened by four days to 29 days and provided 52 football matches, an increase of 14.