The bracket system leads to permutations in the group phase, with teams trying to avoid tougher opposition in the first knockout rounds.
The 2018 edition of the FIFA World Cup in Russia has reached its business end, with teams moving into the semi-finals of the competition. The quadrennial tournament has had more than its fair share of shocks, with several of the favourites enduring early exits.
Several fans and pundits have long mulled over the viability of introducing a draw system to decide the fixtures in the knockout stages of the tournament rather than the existing rigid structure of the bracket.
We at Khel Now have compiled a list of five reasons explaining why this will be a good move going forward.
5. Has been implemented successfully in domestic and continental competitions
The UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League have both adopted the system of holding draws before each round of fixtures begins, allowing for a more fluid and exciting competition. Cup competitions such as the FA Cup and the League Cup, that involve 48 professional teams and several other non-league teams, also employ this system.
The 2026 World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico will have an increased number of teams and will benefit from such a system.
4. Decreases the chances of teams fielding weakened sides in dead rubber group stage games
In the final group stage fixture of Group G, England and Belgium took to the field with sides that were far from their first-choice XIs. This was not due to injury or suspensions, rather it was due to the fact that finishing second in the group would see them avoid a potential quarterfinal with Brazil.
A draw system would not give teams the chance to do this leading to more exciting and fairly-contested games.
3. Ensures that the two best sides are in the final
In this year’s edition of the World Cup, there is a very clear difference between one group of teams and their path to the final and the other.
Teams like Uruguay had to circumnavigate the likes of Portugal and France on their way to the semis, while teams like England have a relatively easier path. A draw system would go a long way to evening out the playing field.
2. Allows teams an extra day of recovery
The World Cup is one of the most gruelling footballing competitions and it tests its participants both mentally and physically. Relaxation and recovery are essentials if the teams and players are to perform at their best.
If a draw was conducted before each round of fixtures, the participating teams would have the chance to unwind and wait for their opponents to be revealed.
1. Reduces predictability and makes for more of a spectacle
While the World Cup has its share of surprises, it is possible to predict the teams that will progress at each stage with relative accuracy even before a ball has been kicked in the tournament. Videos of pundits and former players doing just this emerged prior to the 2018 edition as well. A draw system would make this almost impossible and thereby add to the already brimming excitement surrounding the competition.
The 2022 World Cup will take place in Qatar followed by the 2026 edition in North America. Changes to the format of the competition can be implemented in these editions if seen fit by FIFA.