We have now reached 24 days to go until the big event in Brazil and 24 has significance in World Cup finals history. In 1982 for the first time the tournament was expanded from 16 finalists to 24 and this opened up the tournament to more teams from confederations outside of Europe and South America, especially Africa.
England were back in the finals after a twelve year absence after failing to qualify in 1974 and 1978. It was in fact England’s first successful qualifying campaign in 20 years as they were hosts in 1966 and defending champions in 1970.
This format was used until 1994 when the tournament was further expanded to 32 teams which is the same number of finalists we will have in Brazil. The format in 1982 remains a unique one and involved first and second round group stages. The format that succeeded was used until 1994 and involved a single group stage, Round of 16, Quarter, Semi and final. In total 52 games were player in the 24 team format which has grown to 64 with the 32 team format first used in France.