Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
So far, the 2018 World Cup has lived up to the pre-tournament hype. Supporters have been treated to a festival of football in Russia since the competition kicked off on the 14th of June. From Kaliningrad to Yekaterinburg, the excitement has been flowing at a steady rate – 85 goals have already been scored after just 32 matches and we are yet to witness a single goalless draw.
However, only 6 nations have secured their passage from the Group Stages to the Last 16 and with the vital final round of Group games set to start today, the intensity is set to crank up another few notches in Russia.
Find out what each competing nation must to do qualify for the knockout stages of the 2018 World Cup below.
Already qualified for the Last 16: Russia, Uruguay, France, Croatia, Belgium, England
Already eliminated: Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Costa Rica, Tunisia, Panama, Poland
If two or more teams are level on points after all three group matches, FIFA’s tie breaker system separates them as follows:
1. Goal difference
2. Goals scored
3. Head-to-head points
4. Head-to-head goal difference
5. Head-to-head goals scored
6. Fair play points
7. Drawing of lots
FAIR PLAY SCORING SYSTEM
Point 6 above is further broken down as follows.
Yellow card: -1
Red card for two cautions: -3
Straight red card: -4
Yellow card and straight red card: -5
- Russia have already qualified, but they can top the group if they avoid defeat against Uruguay.
- Uruguay are also through but must beat the Russians to finish top of their section.
- Egypt and Saudi Arabia have already been eliminated.
- Portugal need just a point against Iran to qualify. They can still qualify if they lose, but only if Spain lose by a bigger margin.
- Spain only need a point against Morocco to qualify. They can qualify with a defeat if Portugal lose by a bigger margin, or if Iran vs Portugal is a low-scoring draw and Spain lose by no more than one goal.
- If both Portugal and Spain lose, the team with the worse result would finish in 3rd spot. If both Portugal and Spain win, the team with the biggest margin of victory would finish top. Spain and Portugal currently have identical records and they are separated by their disciplinary records so far (Portugal 2 yellow cards, Spain 1). However, if this finishes level too they will have tp draw lots for group position.
- Iran must beat Portugal to guarantee a place in the Last 16. They would also go through with a draw if Spain lose to Morocco by at least two goals.
- Morocco have already been eliminated.
- France have already qualified and need just a point against Denmark finish on top of Group C.
- Denmark need a point to guarantee qualification and can top the group with a win against France. They will also qualify with a defeat if Australia fail to beat Peru.
- Australia must beat Peru and hope Denmark lose to France. They must also top the Danes on goal difference.
- Peru have already been eliminated having lost both games so far.
- Croatia have qualified and they need a point against Iceland to finish in top spot, although their superior goal difference means they are almost certain to finish top of the pile.
- Nigeria must beat Argentina to be guaranteed going through, although a point will suffice if Iceland do not beat Croatia.
- Argentina have to beat Nigeria and hope Iceland do not win to secure qualification. If both Argentina and Iceland both get 3 points, Argentina must do so by a bigger margin as their goal difference is inferior to Iceland’s by one goal. If the two teams finish with identical records, they drew with each other, meaning they would be first separated by disciplinary records (current yellow cards: Argentina 3, Iceland 0) and then drawing of lots for second spot.
- Iceland must beat Croatia and hope Nigeria are unable to beat Argentina. If Nigeria draw, then Iceland must win by at least two goals to match their goal difference. If their records are identical, Nigeria would go through on head-to-head. If Argentina win then Iceland must do so by the same margin or greater to guarantee finishing second.
- Brazil need 1 point against Serbia to guarantee their spot in the last 16. They can also go through in second with a defeat if Switzerland also lose by the same margin or greater.
- Switzerland need 1 point against Costa Rica to guarantee their place, though they can also go through with a defeat if Serbia lose to Brazil. If Switzerland lose by one goal and Serbia draw their game, it will go to goals scored. If the teams finish with identical records, then Switzerland go through on head-to-head. If Switzerland are beaten by a two goal margins, they can still qualify, but only if Serbia lose to Brazil.
- If both Brazil and Switzerland win or lose, they might need to be separated by disciplinary record (Current yellow cards: Brazil 3, Switzerland )4 or drawing of lots for first or secong position, because they drew 1-1 in their Group meeting.
- Serbia will definitely qualify if they win and could go through with a draw as explained.
- Costa Rica have already been eliminated.
- Mexico need 1 point from their game against Sweden to go through as group winners. They can also qualify with a defeat if Germany fail to win.
- Sweden are guaranteed to make the Last 16 if they win or get a better result than Germany’s. If they beat Mexico and Germany fail to win, Sweden will finish top.
- Germany must win by two or more goals or better Sweden’s result to guarantee their qualification.
- If Germany and Sweden both draw, the team in the higher-scoring game will finish as runners up. If both draws are secured by the same scoreline, Germany finish second on head-to-head.
- South Korea must beat Germany and hope Sweden are beaten by Mexico to have a chance of qualifying.
Possible three-way tie for first and second place?
- If Sweden and Germany both win, they will finish level on 6 points with Mexico, and it will first come down to goal difference.
- Sweden will qualify in all scenarios.
- Germany will qualify if they win by two goals.
- Mexico can only qualify if both games are won by a single goall, and Mexico’s game is either higher scoring or both the same score one-goal margin apart from 1-0.
- If Sweden win by two or more goals, they are through, and that would mean Germany are guaranteed to qualify with any vcitory (Mexico eliminated).
- If Germany win by two or more goals they are through, with Sweden through with any win (Mexico eliminated).
- If both Germany and Sweden win 1-0, all three teams would have identical records and it would go to head-to-head mini-league. That would see Germany and Sweden through on goals scored. Mexico would be eliminated by virtue of scoring one fewer goal in games between the three countries involved. 1st and 2nd would then be decided on the FIFA Fair Play system. Currently, Sweden’s score is -3 and Germany’s -5, so Sweden would finish top of the group (that could change depending on developments on the final match day).
- If both Germany and Sweden win with 2-1 scorelines, then the Swedes would top the group on head-to-head goals scored (they would have 3 goals in games between the three countries to Germany and Mexico’s 2). 2nd and 3rd would be decided by the Fair Play scoring system. Currently, Mexico’s score is -2 and Germany’s -5 (Jerome Boateng’s red card accounts for the difference). Each yellow card is worth -1 so Mexico would qualify unless they rack up more disciplinary points than the Germans on match day 3.
- If both Germany and Sweden win 3-2 (or any higher one-goal identical margin of victory), then Sweden would top the group with Mexico 2nd and Germany 3rd on goals scored).
- Mexico can also go through instead of Germany, if both games are won by one goal, but Mexico’s defeat against Sweden is a higher-scoring game.
- If Sweden win by one goal, and Germany win by one goal but in a higher-scoring match, Germany win the group with Sweden in 2nd and Mexico would be eliminated.
Possible three-way tie for second place?
- If South Korea win and Sweden lose there will be a three-way tie for second on three points between Germany, Sweden and South Korea. The order would first be decided by goal difference.
- If South Korea beat Germany by two goals, they will finish in 2nd spot.
- If South Korea beat Germany 1-0 and Sweden lose 1-0 to Mexico, it will come down to FIFA’s Fair Play system between Germany and Sweden. South Korea would be out on head-to-head goals scored.
- If both games are won by the same one-goal margin other than 1-0, then Germany would finish 2nd on head-to-head goals scored.
- If South Korea beat the Germans by a higher-scoring one-goal margin than Sweden lose to Mexico by, then South Korea would finish 2nd on direct head-to-head against Germany and Sweden would finish bottom of the section.
- Similarly, if Sweden lose to Mexico by a higher-scoring one-goal margin than South Korea beat Germany, then Sweden would finish 2nd on goals scored.
- If Sweden lose by more than one goal, they cannot qualify, and South Korea would finish second with any margin of victory.
- England have already qualified, but they are only guaranteed to top the group if they beat Belgium.
- Belgium are also through and are only guaranteed to finish top if they beat England.
- England (2 yellow cards) currently lead Belgium (3 yellow cards) on fair play. If they draw on match day three, 1st and 2nd will be decided on this. If fair play also finishes level, the teams will draw lots to decide who finishes top.
- Panama and Tunisia have already been eliminated.
- Japan need at least a point against Poland to secure qualification. They can also go through with a defeat if Colombia do not win. They will finish top of the group if they better Senegal’s result.
- Senegal need a point against Colombia to qualify. They can only qualify with a defeat if Japan also lose. They will top the group if they better Japan’s result aginst Poland.
- Colombia must beat Senegal to guarantee their spot in the Last 16. They can also qualify with a draw if Japan lose to Poland. They will finish in top spot if they win and Japan do not.
- If both Japan and Senegal draw, both will qualify and the team in the highest-scoring match will finish top. If both draws are the same score, 1st place will be decided Fair Play and then drawing of lots.
- If Japan and Senegal both win, they will both qualify. The team that wins by the biggest margin, or is in the highest-scoring win of the same margin, will finish 1st. If both wins are the same score, top spot would then be decided first by Fair Play and then drawing of lots.
- If both Japan and Senegal lose then Colombia win the group. 2nd place would then go to the team that loses by the smallest margin, or is in the highest-scoring defeat of the same margin. If both defeats are the same score, 2nd place will be decided first by Fair Play and then drawing of lots.
- The current FIFA Fair Play numbers are Japan -3 and Senegal -5.
- Poland have already been eliminated.
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