The final round of group matches at the 2018 World Cup has commenced.
Eight teams have already qualified for the second round of the competition, but eight spots are still up for grabs. So, what is the possibility of certain teams qualifying for the next round – the round of 16?
We have simply done the permutations to see what the teams need to do to keep their World Cup hopes alive. You never might know, but you might need your calculator by your side to guide you along the way.
First of all, for teams who manage to be tied on points at the end of the group phase, the competition organisers, FIFA, have drawn out a list of deciders arranged in the order of importance.
|FIFA World Cup group ranking rules (in order)|
|1. Goal difference.|
|2. Goals scored.|
|If teams cannot be separated by that then…|
|3. Greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned.|
|4. Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned.|
|5. Greater number of goals scored in all group matches.|
Now, an analysis of the chances of the 32 teams in the eight different groups.
Both Russia and Uruguay have qualified from the group. Uruguay ended up as group winners after their 3-0 win over Russia.
As group winners, the South American side will play Group B runner-up, Portugal. Russia, as runner-up will play Group B winner, Spain.
Things were very complicated in this group and it certainly lived up to its pre-tournament description of the “group of death.”
Spain were about to be eliminated from the World Cup as they were surprisingly losing 1-2 to Morocco with the game in stoppage time.
Iran, on the other hand, were also losing 0-1 to Portugal with the game also in stoppage time.
However, Iago Aspas scored a controversial goal for Spain, confirmed by the VAR (Video Assistant Referee), in the 91st minute to draw the game level, thereby confirming Spain’s continued participation in the competition, as well as the group leader spot.
Karim also scored a late VAR-awarded penalty for Iran in the 93rd minute, but it was not enough as Portugal withstood enormous pressure to finish the game level and qualify as the runner-up.
Spain, by virtue of being the group winners, will play Russia on Sunday, July 1, by 3 pm, while runners-up Portugal will play Uruguay on Saturday, June 30, by 7 pm.
France are through to the knockout round – a point against Denmark would see them finish as group winners.
A point against France would see Denmark qualify, as would Australia’s failure to beat Peru. The Danes would top the group with a victory.
In order for Australia to qualify, they must beat Peru, hope Denmark lose and also better the Danes’ goal difference.
Group winner plays the runner-up in Group D. Runner-up plays Group D winner.
Croatia has qualified and will be group winners with a point against Iceland.
Nigeria will qualify with a win over Argentina. A point would be enough if Iceland does not win Croatia.
If Argentina and Nigeria draw, Iceland will make the last 16 if they beat Croatia by a two-goal margin and also score at least one more than Nigeria.
Argentina will qualify with a victory over Nigeria coupled with Iceland failing to defeat Croatia. If Iceland does beat Croatia, then Jorge Sampaoli’s side can still qualify if they beat Nigeria by two more goals than Iceland win their game. If Argentina and Iceland win and finish with identical records their fate will be decided by their disciplinary records and then the drawing of lots. Argentina have picked up three yellow cards and Iceland have none.
Group winner plays the runner-up in Group C. Runner-up plays Group C winner
A draw for Brazil against Serbia will be enough for a place in the knockout stage.
If both Brazil and Switzerland win then the group winner could be decided by disciplinary records: Brazil have three yellows, Switzerland four. If they both lose then it will be the second and third places potentially decided by the same process.
The Swiss will qualify with a draw against Costa Rica, or if Serbia loses to Brazil.
If Switzerland lose by one goal and Serbia draw, second place will be decided by goals scored. If the sides finish with identical records then Switzerland would go through because they beat Serbia.
Serbia will qualify if they defeat Brazil. A draw would be enough if Switzerland lose to Costa Rica by more than one goal.
Group winner plays the runner-up in Group F. Runner-up plays Group F winner.
Mexico need only a point against Sweden to qualify and finish top. They will go through if they get a draw or a win, irrespective of other results in the group.
Sweden are guaranteed to qualify if they better Germany’s result. They will top the group if they beat Mexico and better Germany’s result.
Germany will qualify if they win by two or more clear goals.
If both Germany and Sweden draw their games, then the team in the higher-scoring game will finish second. If the matches finish with the same score, then Germany will finish second because they beat Sweden.
South Korea can qualify if they beat Germany and Sweden lose, and finish with a better goal difference than those two teams.
Group winner plays the runner-up in Group E. Runner-up plays Group E winner.
England and Belgium have qualified and have identical records going into their final match.
If they draw then the top two positions will be decided by the number of cards accumulated. England have two yellows and Belgium have picked up three.
If both teams have the same number of booking points then lots will be drawn to decide the final positions
Group winner plays the runner-up in Group H. Runner-up plays Group H winner.
Japan and Senegal require only a point in their respective games against Poland and Colombia to qualify.
Colombia will qualify with a victory over Senegal. If Colombia win Japan will need to lose by fewer goals than Senegal to progress. Colombia can also qualify with a draw if Japan lose, because they have a better goal difference.
Group winner plays the runner-up in Group G. Runner-up plays Group G winner.