For this expanded tournament FIFA struggled to work out how to organise the second phase. In the two previous tournaments the four groups in the first phase grew into two further groups consisting of the top two from each of the first round groups. The winners of each second phase group went through to the Final with the second placed teams fighting out a Third Place Match.
But with an extra eight teams to contend with and a first phase consisting of 6 groups, this presented a problem. How do you get 12 teams to eventually end up with 2 finalists? There had not been a knockout round since 1970 and FIFA continued down this route, choosing a further group section for the second phase. But there were flaws in the plan as they wanted to keep the 12 qualifiers as interested as possible throughout the section.
The 12 qualifiers from the first phase were split into 4 groups with 3 teams in each one. Some anomalies included 2 of the groups having 2 group winners from the first phase, whereas the other two only had 1. Each side would only play the others in their group once and the plan was for the first match in each group to be drawn and then the loser immediately playing in the second match of the group. If the first game was a draw then the team with the better record from the first phase would play in the third game, with the other side immediately playing the second match.
Each group had one venue where all the matches would be held.
Group A – Nou Camp, Barcelona
Belgium (Group Two winners)
Poland (Group One runner-up)
USSR (Group Six runner-up)
Group B – Estadio Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid
England (Group Four winners)
West Germany (Group Two winners)
Spain (Group Five runner-up)
Group C – Estadio Sarria, Barcelona
Brazil (Group Six winners)
Italy (Group One runner-up)
Argentina (Group Two runner-up)
Group D – Estadio Vicente Calderon, Madrid
Northern Ireland (Group Five winners)
Austria (Group Two runner-up)
France (Group Four runner-up)
Only each group winner progressed further and this is where FIFA decided a knockout stage would suit and so each group winner competed in a Semi-Final stage before the Final and the Third Place Match.
Group A winner would meet winner of Group C at Nou Camp, Barcelona
Group B winner would meet winner of Group D at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Seville