Football fever is brewing as fans gear up for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

This edition promises to be a spectacle unlike any other, with the beautiful game taking centre stage in a historic three-nation extravaganza in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The 2026 World Cup will have an expanded format of 48 teams competing for the coveted trophy, opening the door for more nations to showcase their talent on the biggest stage in football.

World Cup 2026 – Format

After featuring 32 teams for over two decades, the World Cup is getting a major expansion for the 2026 edition.

Marking the first World Cup expansion since 1998, 48 teams will battle it out across 104 matches rather than the previous 64.

The 2026 World Cup will feature 12 groups of four teams each. The top two sides from every group will automatically advance to the knockout stage, alongside the eight best third-placed teams.

That means 32 teams will clash in the first knockout stage, followed by the familiar rounds of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. The format for the tournament is as follows:

  • Group stage – June 11-27
  • Round of 32 – June 28-July 3
  • Round of 16 – July 4-7
  • Quarter-finals – July 9-11
  • Semi-finals – July 14-15
  • Third place play-off – July 18
  • Final – July 19

World Cup 2026 – Host Cities

Sixteen cities will host the 2026 World Cup. These are as follows:

  • New York
  • Dallas
  • Miami
  • Kansas City
  • Houston
  • Atlanta
  • Los Angeles
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Mexico City
  • Monterrey
  • Guadalajara
  • Vancouver
  • Toronto

World Cup 2026 – Qualification

The allocation of qualification spots for each confederation reflects the increase in total World Cup teams from 32 to 48. Thes are as follows:

  • UEFA (Europe) – 16 teams
  • AFC (Asian) – 8 teams
  • CAF (Africa) – 9 teams
  • CONCACAF (North, Central America and Caribbean) – 6 teams
  • CONMEBOL (South America) – 6 teams
  • OFC (Oceania) – 1 team

The fight for the final two spots at the 2026 World Cup gets fierce with a six-team play-off tournament. Two teams from CONCACAF will be joined by one each from the AFC, CAF, CONMEBOL and OFC.

The two highest-ranked teams secure automatic slots in the final, while the remaining four will slug it out in bracket semi-finals. The winners of the finals will secure a place in the World Cup group stage.

World Cup 2026 – Betting Odds

France are the bookies’ favourites to conquer the world in 2026 despite their heartbreaking 2022 World Cup final defeat in Qatar.

Here are the current odds:

  • Brazil – 6.50
  • France – 6.50
  • England – 7.50
  • Argentina – 9.00
  • Spain – 10.00
  • Germany – 11.00
  • Portugal – 14.00
  • Netherlands – 17.00
  • Italy – 23.00
  • Belgium – 34.00
  • Uruguay – 34.00
  • United States – 34.00
  • Bar – 51.00

World Cup 2026 Preview

France came agonisingly close to becoming only the third nation in history to claim back-to-back World Cup trophies after Brazil and Italy, but they were thwarted by Argentina in the 2022 final.

Nevertheless, they’re still heavily fancied to win the 2026 edition, and it is hard to challenge that sentiment considering the enormous talent at their disposal.

Spearheaded by Kylian Mbappe, who bagged a hat-trick in the 2022 final, France could be a force to be reckoned with at the upcoming World Cup tournament.

Their 6.50 odds are matched only by Brazil, although they failed to make it past the quarter-finals in the previous edition, losing to Croatia on penalties.

They will need to find their winning formula again if they want to challenge for a record-extending sixth World Cup title.

England are priced at 7.50, but their chances of World Cup success could change depending on their performance in the upcoming European Championship. A strong showing in Germany would solidify their status as major contenders for the 2026 World Cup.

Reigning champions Argentina are rated as 9.50 shots to retain their crown. That could change, with the legendary Lionel Messi unlikely to stick around long enough for a title defence in 2026.

Beyond the favourites, teams such as Republic of Ireland will be hoping to upset the bookmakers’ odds in 2026.

Their odds of 1001.00 on Irish betting sites give them next to no chance of success, but they could spring a surprise or two in North America.

Securing a spot in the tournament will be tricky. But if they can navigate the qualifiers and reach the big stage, Ireland could become a popular betting option to progress to the knockout phase.