World Cup 2019: Breaking down how the tournament works

The U.S. women's national soccer team has its first FIFA Women’s World Cup match on Tuesday against Thailand. The format of the tournament can be confusing, so here’s a breakdown to follow along as the U.S. begins its quest for a second consecutive title.

The World Cup field is broken into six groups with four nations each. The U.S. is in Group F, along with Thailand, Chile and Sweden. The four countries in each group play matches against each other during the first phase. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw, and the two teams with the most points in each group advance to the round of 16 knockout phase.  

The knockout phase becomes a traditional bracket tournament, with single-elimination leading to the quarterfinals, semifinals and final.

If the U.S. wins its initial group, it will play the second-place team of Group B, which includes China, Germany, Spain and South Africa.

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