World Cup 2018: The groups and their permutations

The final group games of the 2018 World Cup are getting underway and there’s still a lot to play for. Six teams have already qualified for the last 16 which means that 10 places are up for grabs.

Group D’s games on Tuesday night will be fascinating since all the teams have a chance to get through to the knockout stages.

Then on Wednesday afternoon, Germany will still need to win to make sure that they won’t be eliminated from the group stages and it’s still mathematically possible for all of the teams in that group (Group F) to progress.

Group A

– Both Russia and Uruguay have qualified for the knockout stages. They will be playing against each other today to see who can top Group A

– Whoever tops this group is likely to avoid Spain in the next round so it will be vital for both sides to win. A draw will mean Russia will top the group because they have a better goal difference

– Egypt and Saudi Arabia will play for pride as they cannot go through to the last 16. Liverpool star Mo Salah will have just one game to put on a show in front of the world

Group B

– Spain will qualify as long as they avoid defeat to Morocco tonight

– The same can be said for Portugal who face Iran, who put up a tough fight against Spain last Wednesday

– If both Portugal and Spain suffer defeats the team with the bigger loss would be eliminated. If they both win then the team with the biggest win will finish top of Group B

– The top two teams currently have the same number of points, goal difference and goals scored – they are separated by Fair Play records (Spain have one yellow card and Portugal have picked up two)

– Iran will qualify with victory over Portugal. They would win the group if Spain failed to win

– If Spain lose, then they will only progress if Portugal beat Iran or suffer a heavier defeat against Iran than Spain do, or if that match is a low-scoring draw and Spain lose by no more than one goal

– Morocco cannot get out of the group stages

Group C

– France are already through to the knockout stages. To top the group they simply need to win or draw against Denmark

– Denmark need a draw against France to progress in second place and a win for the Danes would mean that they will top Group C

– Australia must beat Peru, hope that Denmark lose and have a better goal difference to qualify

– Peru are out since they have not won a match

Group D

– Croatia have qualified and a point or more will see them win Group D

– Nigeria will qualify with a win over Argentina. A draw would be enough if Iceland do not beat Croatia

– For Argentina to qualify it gets very complicated. First they must defeat Nigeria coupled with Iceland failing to beat Croatia. If Iceland do 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.

-This will be fascinating to watch tomorrow night

Group E

– A draw for five-time champions Brazil will be enough to see them through

– 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

– Switzerland will qualify with a draw against Costa Rica or if Serbia lose 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 F

– Mexico need only a point against Sweden to qualify and finish top. They will also go through if Germany do not beat South Korea

– 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 goals or more

– 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

– Amazingly South Korea can still qualify if they beat Germany and Sweden lose, and finish with a better goal difference than those two teams. That would send the entire country into a wild Gangnam Style celebration.

Group G

– England and Belgium have qualified and have identical records going into their final match. England have one less yellow card than Belgium so a draw will mean England will top Group F

– Tunisia and Panama are both out of the World Cup and will play to try and get a win from the tournament

Group H

– Japan and Senegal require only a point in their respective games against Poland and Colombia to qualify

– Colombia will qualify with 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

England’s possible route to the final if they win Group G:

  • Last-16: Senegal
  • Quarter-finals: Brazil or Germany
  • Semi-finals: France or Portugal
  • Final: Spain

England’s possible route to the final if they finish second in Group G:

  • Last-16: Japan
  • Quarter-finals: Switzerland or Mexico
  • Semi-finals: Spain or Croatia
  • Final: Brazil

Do England really want to win their group? There are no easy games in the World Cup but a quarter-final against Brazil or Germany is something that you wouldn’t want to face because they’re both arguably the best sides in the tournament.

Let’s not look too far though. Let’s take it one match at a time because anything can happen at the World Cup.

It usually does.

Image courtesy of Ion Chobzii via Flickr, with thanks.

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