Group play is winding down at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and as it does, the scenarios for the knockout round are coming into focus.
Here is what needs to happen for teams to advance to the round of 16.
Here are the current standings in Group A:
Group A is the first group to have each nation complete a pair of matches, so we can start working through their advancement scenarios now.
Norway has the toughest road ahead of them. To advance a few things will need to go their way. First they will need to beat the Philippines in their final match, which would put them on 4 points. A win by Switzerland would get Norway through.
There is a scenario where Norway can advance with a win if Switzerland and New Zealand play to a draw. That would be enough to put Switzerland through, and would have both New Zealand and Norway on 4 points.
The next tiebreaker is goal differential. At the moment New Zealand has the advantage with their 0, compared to Norway’s -1. But a draw between New Zealand and Switzerland would keep that at 0, and if Norway beats the Philippines by at least two goals, that would be enough to improve Norway’s goal differential to +1, giving them the tiebreaker.
For the Philippines, they advance with a win over Norway coupled with a Switzerland win, or a draw between Switzerland and New Zealand. A draw with Norway would put the Philippines on four points, and they can still advance with a Switzerland win. A draw coupled with a New Zealand win would likely see the Philippines eliminated, as New Zealand would be through with six points and the Philippines would be level with Switzerland with four points each. Then it would come down to the goal differential tiebreaker, and Switzerland currently has the advantage.
There is a scenario where the Philippines advance with a loss, but that would require New Zealand to lose by such a margin that their goal differential would drop below that of the Philippines.
Have a headache yet? I do.
Moving to the next match, for Switzerland things are fairly easy. A win over New Zealand and they are in, having won the group with seven points. A draw with New Zealand and they are in, and may still win the group depending on the outcome of the other match. Even if they lose, Switzerland can still advance provided Norway wins, and Switzerland wins the tiebreaker with Norway on goal differential.
As for New Zealand, a win over Switzerland gets them to six points, and puts them in. In this scenario they would win the group if Norway wins, if Norway-Philippines ends in a draw, or the Philippines wins, but New Zealand wins the tiebreaker.
New Zealand can advance with a draw, but it is tricky. A draw would put New Zealand on 4 points with a goal differential of 0. A win by Norway would put the Norwegians on 4 points as well, and the first tiebreaker is goal differential. If Norway wins by one goal over the Philippines, both teams would have a goal differential of 0, and the next tiebreaker is total goals scored.
At the moment, Norway has yet to score, and New Zealand has one goal to their credit.
So … a 0-0 draw between Switzerland and New Zealand, coupled with a 1-0 win for Norway, makes that a tie as well. That’s when red and yellow cards come into play.
Hopefully it does not come to that.
The other scenario is a draw in both games. Switzerland would win the group with five points, while New Zealand and the Philippines would be tied with four each. New Zealand would advance on goal differential.
A New Zealand draw, coupled with a win by the Philippines, would see New Zealand eliminated.
Group A concludes play on Sunday July 30, with Norway taking on the Philippines and Switzerland playing New Zealand. Both games kickoff at 3:00 a.m. ET.
Here are the current standings in Group B:
Ireland was eliminated on Wednesday with their loss to Canada, despite Katie McCabe’s stunning Olimpico.
With their shocking 3-2 win over host nation Australia, Nigeria now sits atop the table in Group B, who conclude group play against Ireland on July 31. A win or a draw against Ireland, and the Super Falcons advance. A loss to Ireland, coupled with a Canada win, would see Nigeria still advance. Should Nigeria lose, they can still advance with an Australian win, provided Nigeria wins the eventual goal differential tiebreaker with Canada. A Nigeria loss coupled with a draw in the Australia-Canada game would come down to tiebreakers between Nigeria and Australia.
Canada advances with a win over Australia, as well as with a draw. They can also advance with a loss, provided Nigeria loses as well, and Canada wins the eventual goal differential tiebreaker with Nigeria.
Australia’s easiest path is with a win over Canada. Should they finish level with Canada, They would need Nigeria to lose, and then to win the tiebreaker with Nigeria. Right now Nigeria holds the advantage there with a goal differential of +1, so in this scenario Nigeria would need to lose by two goals or more to give Australia the tiebreaker advantage. Remember, the next tiebreaker — should goal differential be equal — is goals scored, followed by the red and yellow card points system.
Group B concludes play on July 31, with Australia playing Canada and Nigeria playing Ireland. Both matches start at 6:00 a.m. ET.
Here are the current standings in Group C:
Japan and Spain are the first two teams to qualify for the knockout round, thanks to their wins on Wednesday. Japan defeated Costa Rica 2-0, while Spain defeated Zambia 5-0.
All that is left to decide in Group C is which team wins the group. Spain and Japan square off on Monday, July 31. The winner of the match will win the group, and take on the second-place finisher from Group A in the knockout round. The loser of the match will finish second in Group C, and take on the winner of Group A in the knockout round.
Should Monday’s match end in a draw, Spain will win the group due to goal differential.
Group C concludes play on Monday, July 31. Japan plays Spain and Costa Rica plays Zambia, with both matches starting at 3:00 a.m. ET.
Here are the current standings in Group D:
Going into the final set of matches, all four nations are still alive, including Haiti, who lost to China on Friday.
Haiti can still get into the knockout round, however, a lot of things would need to break their way. First they would need to defeat Denmark. Then they would need England to defeat China. That would put England on nine points, and the other three nations on three each. Haiti would then need to win tiebreakers against both Denmark and China to advance.
Haiti cannot win the group, and they are eliminated with is eliminated a loss or a draw against Denmark. They are also eliminated with a win if China defeats England, or that match ends in a draw.
China can advance to the knockout round a few different ways. First, if they beat England and Denmark draws, or loses, to Haiti, then China is in. If both China and Denmark win, then China would have to win the tiebreaker (and in this scenario England, China, and Denmark would all have six points each.) China can also still advance with a draw, provided Haiti and Denmark finishes in a draw and China wins the eventual tiebreaker against Denmark.
China also has a slim path to winning the group outright. A win over England is the first step. Then, if Haiti defeats Denmark, or that match ends in a draw, England and China would be level with six points each atop the group. China would then need to win tiebreakers against England. China also wins Group D with a win over England and a Denmark win over Haiti, provided China wins the tiebreakers against England and Denmark.
For Denmark, they can advance a few different ways. First, with a win or a draw against Haiti and a win by England, Denmark is in. Denmark can also advance with a loss to Haiti, provided England wins, but Denmark would also have to win the subsequent tiebreakers with Haiti and China. Denmark also advances with a win and a draw between England and China, or with a draw in both matches, which would require Denmark to win the tiebreaker against China.
Denmark wins Group D if they defeat Haiti, China defeats England, and Denmark wins the subsequent tiebreakers over China and England.
Denmark is bounced out of the tournament with a draw or loss against Haiti coupled with a win by China. They are also eliminated with a loss to Haiti and a draw between England and China.
Okay, catch your breath, and we’ll get to England.
As for the Lionesses, it is a bit easier. They advance with a win or a draw against China. They can also advance with a loss to China provided Denmark defeats Haiti, and England wins the tiebreakers.
A win or a draw against China, and they win Group D.
In order to be eliminated, England must first lose to China. Then, if Denmark defeats Haiti, and Denmark and Haiti both win tiebreakers over England, the Lionesses are going home.
Group D concludes play on August 1 when China plays England and Denmark plays Haiti. Both matches begin at 7:00 a.m. ET.
Here are the current standings in Group E:
We can start with the easy part.
With their loss to Portugal on Thursday, Vietnam has been eliminated.
After their draw with the Netherlands, the United States is still in solid position to advance. With a win over Portugal on August 1, the United States would lock up a spot in the knockout round. They can also advance with a draw against Portugal. In terms of winning Group E, the US can do that with a win over Portugal and a loss by the Netherlands, or if both teams win, the US can still win the group based on goal differential. If the US and Portugal play to a draw, the US will only win the group if the Netherlands also lose or draw.
A loss to Portugal coupled with a Netherlands win or draw, and the United States is eliminated. The US can still get in with a loss, provided the Netherlands still lose as well, and the United States wins the tiebreaker.
Netherlands is in a similar situation, but with a slight twist. They advance with a win over Vietnam, regardless of what happens in the US-Portugal match. Should they win as well as Portugal, the Netherlands would win the group. If the Netherlands plays to a draw with Vietnam, they also advance to the knockout round, although they would not be able to win the group in this scenario. Should they draw and the US also draw, the US would have the tiebreaker advantage. Should they draw and Portugal win, then Portugal would win the group.
A loss to Vietnam coupled with a Portugal win would eliminate the Netherlands. They can still advance with a loss, provided the US wins. If Portugal and the US play to a draw, and the Netherlands lose, the Netherlands is likely eliminated as both teams would be sitting on four points, but in that scenario Portugal would have the better tiebreaker (both teams have a goal differential of +1 right now).
For Portugal, they advance with a win over the United States, or a draw and a loss by the Netherlands. A loss to the US would eliminate Portugal, as would a draw and a win or draw from the Netherlands.
Group E concludes play on Tuesday, August 1. Vietnam plays the Netherlands while the United States plays Portugal, with both matches starting at 3:00 a.m. ET.
Here are the current standings in Group F:
Scenarios for Group F will be updated once each nation has played two matches.
Here are the current standings in Group G:
Sweden clinched a spot in the knockout round with their 5-0 win over Italy Sunday. They are almost assured of winning the group, given their current goal differential when compared to Italy’s, as Italy is the only other team that can win the group. If Sweden loses to Argentina and Italy defeats South Africa, both Sweden and Italy would have six points. Sweden’s current goal differential of +6, compared to the -4 of Italy, outlines just what the margins would need to be in each game for Italy to win that tiebreaker.
A win or draw for Sweden against Argentina, however, eliminates all doubt. A loss to Argentina, and an Italy draw or loss against South Africa, also removes the tiebreaker scenario.
For Italy, easiest path to the knockout round is a win against South Africa. They can also advance with a draw against South Africa and a Sweden win against Argentina, or a draw between Sweden and Argentina.
As outlined above Italy can still win the group, but it would come down to somehow winning the tiebreakers against Sweden.
A loss to South Africa eliminates Italy. A draw with South Africa and an Argentina win over Sweden would put both Italy and Argentina on four points, and tiebreakers would come into play. The first being goal differential essentially means it is impossible for Italy to win that tiebreaker over Argentina in this scenario. Right now the Italians have a goal differential of -4, and it would stay that way with a draw. Argentina’s current goal differential is -1, and it would only improve from there with a win over Sweden.
For South Africa, they cannot win the group, and can only advance as the second-place finisher. They advance to the knockout round with a win over Italy, and a Swedish win over Argentina. They can also advance with a win over Italy, an Argentina win over Sweden, and then a win over Argentina on tiebreakers. A win over Italy, and a draw between Sweden and Argentina, and South Africa is through.
A loss or a draw, and South Africa is out. They are also eliminated if, as outlined above, they defeat Italy, Argentina defeats Sweden, and Argentina wins the subsequent tiebreaker.
Like South Africa, Argentina cannot win the group. They can advance with a win over Sweden and a draw between Italy and South Africa, which would set Argentina up to win on tiebreakers against Italy. They can also advance with a win and a South African win, provided they win the tiebreaker against South Africa.
A draw or a loss, and they are eliminated. They will also be eliminated in some of the above scenarios should they lose the necessary tiebreakers.
Group G concludes play on August 2 when Sweden plays Argentina and Italy plays South Africa. Both matches start at 3:00 a.m. ET.
Here are the current standings in Group H:
Scenarios for Group H will be updated once each nation has played two matches.