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World Cup 2018: Advancing Scenarios For Each Group

As we enter the final matches of the group stage, here is how each group could shake out. 

The group stage of the 2018 World Cup has entered its final phase. With each team having played two matches, the outline of the knockout stage is coming into focus. 

As teams prepare to play their third matches of the group stage, we analyzed the advancement scenarios for every group. Some groups may come down to tiebreakers like goal differential or even fair play rules. For a complete breakdown of tiebreakers, click here

All times below ET. 

Group A

Standings after two matches:

Russia (6 points, +7 goal differential)

Uruguay (6 points, +2)

Egypt (0 points, -3)

Saudi Arabia (0 points, -6)

Russia and Uruguay have advanced. Egypt and SaudiArabia are eliminated. The final game between Uruguay and Russia will determine who wins the group; if the two teams draw, Russia will claim the top spot by virtue of their superior goal differential. 

Still to Play:

Uruguay vs. Russia, June 25, 10 a.m.

Egypt vs. Saudi Arabia, June 25, 10 a.m.

UPDATE, Monday, Noon ET: Uruguay beat Russia 3–0 to win Group A; Russia qualified for the knockout stage in second place. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are eliminated. 

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Group B

Standings after two matches:

Spain (4 points, +1)

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Portugal (4 points, +1)

Iran (3 points, 0)

Morocco (0 points, -2)

Spain and Portugal lead the group with four points apiece, but Iran is just a point behind.

If Iran defeats Portugal in its final game, it will advance. A draw would require Spain to lose by at least two goals for Iran to advance.

The most likely scenario is that Portugal and Spain advance. Spain will advance with at least a draw against Morocco, and could potentially advance with a loss. Portugal will advance with a win or a draw. If Portugal beats Iran, then Spain is through no matter what.  

If both Portugal and Spain win, the winner of the group comes down to goal differential. Entering the final matchday, both teams are +1, so whichever team's margin of victory is higher would win Group B. If the goal differentials are identical, then it comes down to goals scored in group play—entering the final matchday, both teams are level. 

Morocco has been eliminated.

Still to Play:

Iran vs. Portugal, June 25, 2 p.m.

Spain vs. Morocco, June 25, 2 p.m.

UPDATE, Monday, 4 p.m. ET: Spain drew Morocco 2–2, and Iran drew Portugal 1–1. The result is that Spain and Portugal advance to the round of 16, with Spain winning the group. 

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Group C

Standings after two matches:

France (6 points, +2)

Denmark (4 points, +1)

Australia (1 point, -1)

Peru (0 points, -2)

With six points, France has clinched a spot in the knockout stage.

Denmark holds a three-point lead over Australia, meaning a win or draw against France would put Denmark through.

Australia still has a shot, though. Denmark holds a two-goal advantage over the Socceroos in goal differential, but the two teams have scored two goals each. If Australia wins and finishes with a better goal differential than Denmark, the Aussies advance. If they make up the goal differential but don’t swing the advantage to their side, they will need to score more goals against Peru than Denmark does against France, thus giving Australia the edge in goals scored.

Peru is out no matter what.

France will win the group with a win or draw. 

Still to Play:

Denmark vs. France, June 26, 10 a.m.

Australia vs. Peru, June 26, 10 a.m.

Update, Tuesday Noon ET: France and Denmark advanced after drawing 0–0. Australia lost to Peru. 

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Group D

Standings after two matches:

Croatia (6 points, +5)

Nigeria (3 points, 0)

Iceland (1 point, -2)

Argentina (1 point, -3)

Croatia has clinched a spot in the knockout stage after victories over both Iceland and Argentina. They will win the group with either a win or a draw. As they currently lead Nigeria in goal differential by five goals, Croatia could lose and win the group as long as Nigeria either doesn’t win, or if Nigeria’s margin of victory plus Croatia’s margin of defeat doesn’t add to five or more.

Nigeria enters its last game with three points—plus a goal differential two higher than Iceland—and needs a result to advance. Nigeria advances with a win, and could win the group as outlined above. They could advance with a draw if Iceland does not win by three or more goals. If Nigeria draws and Iceland wins by two goals, it would come down to goals scored, which Nigeria currently leads 2–1.  If they have the same amount of goals scored, Nigeria would advance due to its head-to-head victory over Iceland.

Iceland sits on one point entering the final match with group-leader Croatia. Iceland cannot win the group, but it's possible the country could advance with a win, although that hinges on the result of Nigeria–Argentina. If Iceland wins and Nigeria and Argentina draw, then Iceland would be tied with Nigeria on four points, and it would come to tiebreakers. If Iceland and Argentina both win, then they would be tied on points. Iceland currently has a one-goal advantage over Argentina in goal differential, so Iceland would advance as long as they win by the same or greater margin than Argentina. If Nigeria wins, than no matter the result of Iceland’s match, the World Cup's least populous country would be heading home.

Despite sitting last in the group with just one point, Argentina has a clear path to the knockouts. Argentina will advance with a win over Nigeria, as long as Iceland either does not win, or wins by two fewer goals than Argentina does.

If Argentina wins by one goal more than Iceland does (ex: Argentina wins 3-0 while Iceland wins 3-1), they would have the same goal differential. Both teams currently have the same number of goals scored, so whichever team scores more goals in this scenario would advance. If they are still tied after goals scored, because they drew in their head-to-head matchup the next tie breaker would be Fair Play Points—which comes down to yellow and red cards—and if they are tied in Fair Play points, the drawing of lots would determine which team advances.

Still to Play:

Nigeria vs. Argentina, June 26, 2 p.m.

Croatia vs. Iceland, June 26, 2 p.m.

Update, Tuesday 4 p.m. ET: Argentina beat Nigeria 2–1 to qualify for the knockout stage in second place, knocking out Nigeria. Iceland was eliminated after losing to Croatia 2–1. 

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Group E

Standings after two matches:

Brazil (4 points, +2)

Switzerland (4 points, +1)

Serbia (3 points, 0)

Costa Rica (0, -3)

Brazil sits atop Group E with four points and a goal differential of +2, one higher than that of second place Switzerland. Brazil will advance with either a win or a draw. A Brazil loss, coupled either with Switzerland picking up points in their match or losing by a margin two goals less than Brazil does, is the only way for Brazil to be eliminated. Brazil will win the group with a win, as long as Switzerland does not win by more goals than Brazil does. Brazil also wins the group with a draw, as long as the Switzerland–Costa Rica game is a draw as well.

Switzerland is currently in second in the group with four points and a +1 goal differential. Switzerland would advance with a win or a draw, as Brazil and Serbia cannot simultaneously reach five points. Switzerland could win the group with a win. It would require a Serbia victory; a Serbia and Brazil tie; or that Switzerland wins by two goals more than Brazil does. Switzerland would advance in second place with a loss if Brazil wins.

A Switzerland loss by one goal, coupled with a Serbia-Brazil draw, would see Switzerland and Serbia each on four points with an even goal differential. Switzerland currently has one more goal scored than Serbia, and goals for is the next tiebreaker. 

If Switzerland and Brazil both win, with Switzerland winning by one goal more than Brazil does, the teams would be tied for first place in the group on goal differential. If both lose, with Switzerland losing by one goal less than Brazil does, they would be tied on goal differential for second place in the group. Both teams currently have three goals for, which is the next tiebreaker. If they also finish tied in goals for, then FIFA Fair Play points will be used as the tiebreaker. If they remain tied in Fair Play points, then lots will be drawn.

Serbia currently has three points, one point behind both Brazil and Switzerland. Serbia would advance with a win, and would win the group with a win as long as Switzerland loses or draws. Serbia would advance in second place with a draw if Switzerland loses by at least two goals. If Serbia draws and Switzerland loses by one, the two teams would be tied on goal differential. Serbia currently has two goals scored compared to Switzerland’s three, and goals for is the next tiebreaker. Serbia would be eliminated with a loss, or a draw and a Switzerland win or draw.

Costa Rica cannot reach the round of 16.

Still to Play:

Brazil vs. Serbia, June 27, 2 p.m.

Switzerland vs. Costa Rica, June 27, 2 p.m.

Update, Wednesday 4 p.m. ET: Brazil beat Serbia to win the group, while Switzerland drew Costa Rica and advanced to the knockout stage. 

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Group F

Standings after two matches:

Mexico (6 points, +2)

Germany (3 points, 0)

Sweden (3 points, 0)

South Korea (0 points, -2)

Mexico currently has a three-point advantage at the top of Group F, but the team hasn't clinched a post in the knockout stage quite yet. They'll win the group by winning or drawing against Sweden in their final game. Mexico will also advance if Germany does not pick up all three points against South Korea. If Mexico loses to Sweden by more than one goal, Sweden will finish ahead of Mexico in the group, with Sweden winning the group and Mexico coming in second if Germany do not win against South Korea.

If Mexico loses to Sweden, and Germany wins by at least two goals, then Germany and Sweden will advance on goal differential and head-to-head, respectively. Mexico will also be eliminated if they lose by multiple goals and Germany beats South Korea.

Sweden is currently tied with Germany on three points and an equal goal differential. Sweden advances with a win, as a win means they will come out ahead of Mexico no matter what tiebreaker is used. They will win the group with a win as long as Germany does not also win. If both Sweden and Germany win, tiebreakers would be used to determine which wins the group. Sweden can advance in second with a draw, as long as Germany loses. If both Sweden and Germany draw, then whichever team scores more in their final match will advance. If they each draw with the same scoreline, Germany will advance in second due to the head-to-head victory over Sweden. If Sweden loses, they can still advance, but it would require Germany losing as well—and then it would come down to goal differential, with South Korea also in the mix.

Germany will win the group with a multi-goal victory as long as Sweden wins. Germany will automatically advance with a win as long as Sweden and Mexico draw, or Sweden loses. If Germany and Sweden draw, goals for will be used as a tiebreaker; if that's not enough, Germany would advance on its win over Sweden. If Germany loses to South Korea, it can still advance as long as Sweden loses. If South Korea beats Germany by multiple goals, South Korea would advance on goal differential. 

South Korea can qualify for the knockout stage with a win over Germany and a loss by Sweden, as long as South Korea finishes with a better goal differential than Sweden. If South Korea wins by one goal, and Sweden loses by one goal, then there would be a three-way tie on three points and a -1 goal differential for second place. Bottom line: South Korea needs a win and a Sweden loss to have a chance. 

If there's a three-way tie for first (Sweden beats Mexico; Germany beats South Korea) or second (South Korea beats Germany; Mexico beats Sweden), refer to FIFA's tiebreakers. It could get messy. 

Still to Play:

Mexico vs. Sweden, June 27, 10 a.m.

Germany vs. South Korea, June 27, 10 a.m.

Update, Wednesday Noon ET: Sweden beat Mexico 3–0 to win the group, while South Korea beat Germany 2–0 to eliminate Germany. Mexico qualified for the knockout stage. 

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Group G

Standings after two matches:

Belgium (6 points, +6)

England (6 points, +6)

Tunisia (0 points, -4)

Panama (0 points, -9)

England and Belgium currently are tied at six points, and face each other in the final match. Both teams have clinched a spot in the round of 16, and the last game will determine which wins the group. The team that wins this game will also win the group. Both England and Belgium have six points with a goal differential of +6, with eight goals scored. If this last game ends in a draw, the tiebreaker used would be FIFA Fair Play points. England is currently at -2, while Belgium currently is at -3 after picking up three yellows in their opening match against Panama. If they finish equal on Fair Play points, then lots will be drawn to determine the winner.

These two teams will know how the bracket is set ahead of them. There is a real chance that the winner of this group would be put into the same side of the bracket as Portugal, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and Colombia, while Group G’s second place team would move into the weaker side of the bracket. Both Belgium and England could be incentivized to lose.

Panama and Tunisia cannot advance to the round of 16. 

Still to Play:

Tunisia vs. Panama , June 28, 10 a.m.

Belgium England, June 28, 2 p.m.

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Group H

Standings after two matches:

Japan (4 points, +1)

Senegal (4 points, +1)

Colombia (3 points, +2)

Poland (0 points, -4)

Japan and Senegal are tied atop group H, each with four points and a goal differential of one. Senegal will clinch a spot in the round of 16 with a win or draw in the final game, while Japan would need a victory to guarantee its spot in the knockouts, though they could also advance with a draw depending on the Senegal–Colombia result. Japan advances with a Senegal victory over Colombia.

Both Japan and Senegal can win the group if they win by a wider margin than the other does. If both Japan and Senegal win by the same margin of victory, the team that scores the most goals in the process will win the group. If they score the same amount of goals, then Fair Play points will determine the group’s winner. Japan currently is at -3, while Senegal is at -5, with multiple cards in each of their matches.

If Japan and Senegal both lose, Colombia would win the group. Whichever of Japan or Senegal loses by fewer goals would advance in second. If their goal differential is the same, refer to FIFA's tiebreakers

Colombia will advance to the round of 16 with a victory over Senegal, and will win the group with a victory and a Japan draw or loss. Colombia is eliminated with a loss in its final game. Colombia is also eliminated with a draw if Japan gets a result against Poland. If Colombia draws with Senegal, and Japan loses to Poland, Colombia will advance on goal differential.

Poland cannot reach the round of 16. 

Still to Play:

Japan vs. Poland, June 28, 10 a.m.

Colombia vs. Senegal, June 28, 10 a.m.