How Do Soccer Playoffs Work?

How Do Soccer Playoffs Work? The 2022 FIFA World Cup Playoff match between Australia Socceroos and Peru at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on June 13, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Doha, Qatar
The 2022 FIFA World Cup Playoff match between Australia Socceroos and Peru at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on June 13, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Soccer playoffs are a unique aspect of football competition whereby teams face off to try and defeat each other.

Playoffs are usually played in the knockout rounds of various tournaments like World Cup qualifiers, continental club competitions, and sometimes league campaigns.

Today we will be delving deeper into how exactly soccer playoffs operate.

What Exactly Is A Soccer Playoff?

A playoff is usually a type of soccer match between 2 teams, sometimes played over two legs.

This game is usually played to determine the winner who will advance to the next round or who will emerge victorious in a competition.

In regular knockout competitions like the English FA Cup or League Cup, clubs face each other in preliminary rounds up until the final round, when the last game is played to determine an eventual champion.

Playoffs are also used as the final determinant in selecting a winner amongst teams when other criteria have been used exhaustively.

Soccer playoffs are also used in World Cup qualifiers to determine which national team qualifies for the FIFA World Cup.

For example, in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, there were two inter-confederation play-offs to decide the final two qualification spots to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The playoff matches were between Australia vs. Peru and Costa Rica vs. New Zealand.

Unlike the previous playoffs, and for the first time, FIFA opted to a hold single-game matches in the World Cup host country, Qatar.

How Do Soccer Playoffs Work? The 2022 FIFA World Cup Playoff match between Australia Socceroos and Peru at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on June 13, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Doha, Qatar
The 2022 FIFA World Cup Playoff match between Australia Socceroos and Peru at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on June 13, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Types of Soccer Competitions That Use Playoffs 

As stated earlier, playoffs are usually deployed for round-robin type tournaments when you have a large number of teams to get through, like cup competitions and tournaments that use a hybrid of group and knockout stages.

These playoffs usually pair teams against each other at the behest of the organizers using their own preferred criteria.

Playoffs are usually played to produce one winner who will advance to the next round.

International playoffs

In tournaments like the FIFA World Cup, for instance, playoffs come into effect during the knockout rounds after the group stage has been played.

Countries will start to eliminate each other from the second round all the way to the finals, where the champion will emerge.

League Playoffs

League competition sometimes also deploys the playoffs method, especially when the substantial winner has yet to be determined.

If two teams finish deadlocked on points and other criteria that would ordinarily have separated them, they will go into one match to determine the winner.

Some leagues also use playoffs to determine final relegation and promotion spots.

In France and Germany, for example, the team that finished in the 3rd from the bottom position in their respective top-flight leagues usually plays against the team that finished 3rd in the second-division league to determine who will pick the final spot for the top-division league next season.

England also has a slight variation to this kind of format.

In the lower English Championship, teams that finish from 3rd to 6th position engage in playoffs to determine the final promotion spot for the English Premier League.

Qualifiers for tournaments like World Cups and UEFA Champions League also use playoffs to select teams for the main competition proper to join other sides who qualified earlier through other means.

In conclusion, playoffs are a straightforward way for teams to win in tournaments.

As long as you keep defeating and eliminating your opponent, you will continue to advance to the next round until you win a trophy.

How does the MLS Cup Playoffs work?

The MLS Cup Playoffs is one of the most popular soccer playoffs in the world.

It is an annual postseason elimination tournament of Major League Soccer.

In the MLS Playoffs, the top seven teams from the Eastern Conference and top seven teams from the Western Conference will qualify for the playoffs, and compete in separate brackets.

In each Conference, the teams who finish 2nd through 7th in will play in the First Round, and the winners will advance to the Conference Semifinals along with the top team (1st team) who automatically progresses.

Whoever wins that round will then play in the Conference Finals which is then followed by MLS Cup.

All rounds of the playoffs are single-match eliminations and are hosted by the higher ranked team.

 

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