World football's governing body confirmed the first format change to its showpiece tournament since 1998 at a meeting in Geneva on Tuesday. The finalists will be divided into 16 groups of three, with the best two teams in each group advancing to a knockout round of 32. The changes mean that the competition will now consist of 80 games overall, although the winners will continue to play seven games.
FIFA has raised the prospect of putting a penalty shootout on the end of every group stage drawn game, like some kind of global Checkatrade Trophy, but when you begin to consider ideas like that, you do wonder if it's worth having a group stage at all.
In the present format which will be used in 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar) competitions, the World will still be contested by 32 teams divided into 8 groups inside a 32-day schedule.