The Netherlands and Senegal have joined France, Brazil and Portugal in booking tickets for the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar.
Let’s take a look at what needs to happen to each team in the remaining groups to advance, but first a quick look at the tie-breaking procedure if they start playing.
If the two teams end tied on points, the first tiebreaker is on goal difference. This is why teams will never give up on defeat. Every goal can be important.
If goal difference doesn’t decide matters, the next tiebreaker is goals. Again, every goal can count.
While the odds of needing more than one breakout is low, it’s not unprecedented, so let’s continue here. Then comes the direct confrontation between the two teams. The winner wins this tiebreaker, but in the event of a tie we have to move on to the next tiebreaker.
The fair play record comes next and was in fact what decided the progression between Japan and Senegal at Russia 2018. The better the team discipline, the higher the fair play record. The team with the fewest number of yellow and red cards advances.
If everything remains the same after all previous tie-breaks, the last way to determine which side is ahead is to toss a coin. The draw takes place and the team whose ball is drawn advances. This scenario occurred during the 1990 World Cup in Italy (note that the tie-break was only introduced in 2018) to decide who finished second and third respectively between Ireland and the Netherlands-low in Group F, with the two teams tied at every other tiebreak. .
Needless to say, it will be a more than grueling exit from the World Cup.
advanced: Netherlands and Senegal
exclude: Qatar and Ecuador
The Netherlands only needed one point in their final match but got all three in a 2-0 win over Qatar to qualify.
Senegal joined them in the Round of 16 with a thrilling 2-1 win over Ecuador that sent the South American side home.
England fans were on high after dismantling Iran 6-2 in the first round, but got back to the ground very quickly last Friday after the USA held the Three Lions 0-0. However, England’s path to the last 16 is almost certain as they top the group by four points. With Wales facing their final game, one point would be enough to guarantee passage. There is even a scenario in which England could qualify with a loss thanks to their comfortable +4 points difference. For example, if England lost 2-0 to the Dragons and the USMNT beat Iran, both the Three Lions and Wales (currently -2) would both be four points down, but England would advance to the price to always be +2.
The USMNT’s mission is simple: defeat Iran or go home.
Iran has a slightly larger leeway on three points, one more than the United States. The easiest way to the last 16 is to beat the USMNT, but they can get a draw if Wales don’t beat England.
The dragon does not control their fate. First and foremost they have to beat England – any other score and eliminate them, and even that might not be enough depending on goal difference so Dragons will have to win big. But a win and a draw in Iran’s match against the USMNT would be enough for Wales to advance.
Well, this is the only band where things can get really complicated.
Poland currently leads the group with four points and reached the round of sixteen by winning or drawing against Argentina. The +2 goal difference is also important as it can help them reach the Round of 16 even with a loss, currently standing at three against Saudi Arabia and four against Mexico. If they lose to Argentina and there is a tie in the Mexico-Saudi Arabia match, Poland will pass, provided they lose no more than 2-0. A defeat coupled with a win for Mexico could keep them going as long as they maintain a better goal difference than El Tri.
Argentina leads with a win, but will lose to Poland. A draw will not be enough to advance if Saudi Arabia beats Mexico. But if Mexico wins and Argentina and Poland tie, it will be because of the tiebreaker between Argentina and El Tre.
Saudi Arabia reached the round of 16 with a win, but will be eliminated from the World Cup with a loss. A draw would be enough if Poland beat Argentina as well, but a draw in the other match would lead to the elimination of Saudi Arabia.
Mexico should win – anything short when they get home. But that alone isn’t enough to give El Tri a knockout punch. If Mexico wins and Poland defeats Argentina, El Tre will advance to the Round of 16. If Mexico wins and Poland and Argentina tie, the second place in the group comes after the tie-break between Mexico and Argentina. A Mexico win over Argentina meant El Tre and Poland would go to a tiebreaker.
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Already qualified: France
The defending champions have already reached the round of 16, but what happens in France’s match against Tunisia could have a major impact.
Australia can join France in the knockout stage with a win over Denmark. The soccer world cup will end in losing. A draw will be enough for Australia to advance if Tunisia fails to beat France. If Australia and Denmark tie and Tunisia beat France, it will be because of the tiebreaker between Socceroos and Tunisia.
Anything short of a win is the end of Denmark’s World Cup dream, but even three points may not be enough for them to progress. A win against Australia coupled with a win for France or a draw puts the Danes in a knockout position. However, a victory for Denmark and a victory for Tunisia will lead to the second place in the group through a tie-break.
Tunisia is in a similar boat to Denmark in this victory alone will not guarantee a place in the round of 16, and also like Denmark, less than three points means elimination. If Tunisia wins and Australia wins, then Australia will move on. If Tunisia wins and Denmark and Australia share points, then the second place comes after the tie-break between Tunisia and Australia. As mentioned above, a Tunisia win over Denmark would break the tie between these two teams.
As with Group C, the different scenarios in Group E can end up with some puzzles.
Spain’s path to the last 16 is the most straightforward of the four teams – just don’t lose to Japan. One point is enough to advance. But La Roja may even be able to afford the loss. A loss combined with a draw in the Germany-Costa Rica match would be enough to qualify thanks to Spain’s current +7 goal difference.
For Japan, a win would guarantee a place in the round of 16 and a loss would send them home. A tie might be enough for Samurai Blue. A draw with Spain and a draw between Germany and Costa Rica would give Japan the lead on goal difference. A draw with Germany winning would send matters into a tiebreaker. A draw and victory for Costa Rica meant the end of the World Cup for Japan.
Germany must beat Costa Rica and even that may not be enough if Japan wins or draws with Spain (and put the tiebreaker scenario from above).
The easiest, and perhaps the only, way for Costa Rica is to beat Germany. Their 7-0 loss to Spain in the first round complicated any tie-breaking scenario for them as Los Tecos are currently at -6. A tie could qualify Costa Rica, provided Spain also beats Japan. A draw plus a draw in the Spain-Japan match would eliminate Costa Rica on goal difference.
already eliminated: Canada
Two games later in Group F, Croatia and Morocco, runners-up in 2018, were in the best positions to qualify, just to avoid defeat against Belgium and Canada, respectively.
Croatia’s loss to Belgium and Canada’s victory over Morocco would send Croatia and Morocco into a tiebreaker.
Morocco could also lose to Canada and get a little more protection from Croatia. A loss to Canada combined with a win for Croatia against Belgium would be enough to qualify. Canada losing plus Belgium winning would result in the above scenario.
The Red Devils, third-placed at Russia 2018, go into their final game knowing a win is enough to qualify for the last 16.
Already qualified: Brazil
In fact, a point from their match against Cameroon would see Brazil top the group.
With three points, Switzerland leads by defeating Serbia. A draw would be enough to qualify if Cameroon failed to beat Brazil in the other match. An unlikely scenario, but Switzerland could also move forward if Cameroon won by one goal, and a draw between Switzerland and Serbia gave them a goal difference ahead of Cameroon.
Cameroon come home shortly before winning, and yet that may not be enough. As mentioned above, a Cameroon win coupled with a Serbia-Switzerland tie would see Cameroon and Switzerland win a tiebreaker. A Serbia win plus their own would go to a tiebreaker between Cameroon and Serbia. Any victory for Switzerland will lead to the elimination of Cameroon.
Like Cameroon, Serbia’s chances of advancing depend first on victory. Nothing less than that and its curtains. A win with Cameroon not beating Brazil would put Serbia in the Final 16. A win and a win for Cameroon would send Serbia and Cameroon to break the tie.
Already qualified: Portugal
In the same situation with Brazil, Portugal needs a point against South Korea to win the group.
Of the remaining three teams, Ghana is in the best position to advance. Already in possession of three points and looking for revenge after their controversial penalty shootout in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, the Black Stars can go ahead with a win against Uruguay. A draw will also be enough to progress if South Korea fails to beat Portugal. A loss to Uruguay or a draw with South Korea’s victory over Portugal will end the World Cup in Ghana.
South Korea and Uruguay are in a very similar situation. Failure to win will result in disqualification and even winning will not guarantee passage.
Ghana’s victory over Uruguay eliminates South Korea. South Korea winning the tie between Ghana and Uruguay would send South Korea and Ghana into a tiebreaker. If South Korea wins and Uruguay beats Ghana, South Korea and Uruguay will fight for a tie-breaker. Uruguay passes if Ghana is defeated and South Korea falls to Portugal.