World Cup: Final Group Play Scenarios

We’ve reached the point in the World Cup where we can really start to see some magical moments. We’ve now reached the final matches of group play, in which we’ll see some teams fighting until the final whistle trying to advance, and others fighting for pride as they know they will be heading home regardless of the match outcome. Let’s break down each group as the final matches approach. Just in case you aren’t familiar with World Cup group play, 2 teams advance from each group, a win earns you 3 points, a draw earns you 1 point, and the amount of goals you win by or lose by add up to make your goal differential to be used as a tie breaker. Let’s begin.


Group A

Country Points Goal Differential Last Match
Russia 6 +7 Uruguay
Uruguay 6 +2 Russia
Egypt 0 -3 Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia 0 -6 Egypt


Group A already has their advancing teams decided going into their final day of group play. Russia and Uruguay will both be advancing onto the knockout stages, as Egypt and Saudi Arabia will be playing for pride and then heading home. Uruguay and Russia will be playing to determine the winner of the group, and if the match ends in a draw that accolade will go to Russia. Russia is playing very well at the moment, and as a team that entered this tournament as the lowest ranked team by FIFA (70th), they look to be a team who deserves to win Group A.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia will square off as both teams will exit the World Cup after the match. Expect both teams to still play hard and bring pride and hope for the future of soccer in their country, but as of now that is all there is left to play for.


Group B

Country Points Goal Differential Last Match
Spain 4 +1 Morocco
Portugal 4 +1 IR Iran
IR Iran 3 0 Portugal
Morocco 0 -2 Spain


Now we have some potential drama. Spain and Portugal are two teams who have been picked by many to win the tournament this year, and with good reason. But all of a sudden we could be looking at one of them not making it out of the group stages with IR Iran lurking in the back to try and show they deserve to advance. IR Iran will be playing Portugal and the outcome is simple, win and you’re in, lose you go home, and if you can draw you will need some help from Morocco to beat Spain. All Portugal and Spain will need to do to advance is win or draw, and they are the overwhelming favorites to do so, but this World Cup has had no shortage on drama and if IR Iran is close as the game nears 90’, I would make sure to get to a TV. IR Iran controls their own destiny here, but I believe Spain and Portugal have too much fire power and make it out of Group B.


Group C

Country Points Goal Differential Last Match
France 6 +2 Denmark
Denmark 4 +1 France
Australia 1 -1 Peru
Peru 0 -2 Australia


Ok let’s dive in. France is in, and they are essentially just playing to win the group. Denmark is the only team on the hot seat here, as Australia is sitting just 3 points behind. Denmark does have a +2 goal differential on Australia, meaning the Socceroos are going to have to find the net often against an pretty good Peru team. Peru is sitting at the bottom of the group with 2 losses, but those losses are not vindictive of their talent. Peru won ball possession in both of their losses, had good looking scoring opportunities, and lost both games 1-0. They just could not find the net, but they will be pushing to try to score at least one goal for their country before exiting. I think France and Denmark make it out of the group, but the potential is there for Australia to steal the show.


Group D

Country Points Goal Differential Last Match
Croatia 6 +5 Iceland
Nigeria 3 0 Argentina
Iceland 1 -2 Croatia
Argentina 1 -3 Nigeria


Wow. Argentina potentially not making it out of the group stage? The team with arguably one of the best players to ever play the game, and the team that advanced all the way to the World Cup Final in 2014 in Brazil, not making it out of the Group? Yes they sit at the bottom of Group D right now, and to be fair in my opinion I believe this is the toughest group in the World Cup, but they aren’t out yet. Croatia is already through and more than likely going to win the group. They will probably be resting some of their starters and really have no reason to push for anything more than a draw. They play Iceland, who needs to win and chances are if they win they should jump Nigeria who has a tough matchup. Nigeria gets in with a win, and probably with a draw, but they are really the ones on the hot seat in this group as they play an Argentina team that is going to come in swinging from the start. Argentina has to win this game, and if Croatia can beat Iceland they will be through to the knockout stage.


Group E

Country Points Goal Differential Last Match
Brazil 4 +2 Serbia
Switzerland 4 +1 Costa Rica
Serbia 3 0 Brazil
Costa Rica 0 -3 Switzerland


Ok Costa Rica is mathematically eliminated, but they can still have an effect on the outcome of this group. Whoever wins the Brazil/Serbia game will advance, and if they draw Brazil will advance and Serbia will need Costa Rica to beat Switzerland by 2 or more goals. For Switzerland, win or draw and you are advancing. Technically, Switzerland could actually lose this game and still advance if Brazil can beat Serbia. Something else to watch for… It is still possible for Brazil to fall out of this group. If Switzerland wins or ties, and Brazil losses to Serbia, Brazil will be heading home.


Group F

Country Points Goal Differential Last Match
Mexico 6 +2 Sweden
Germany 3 0 Korea Republic
Sweden 3 0 Mexico
Korea Republic 0 -2 Germany


Ok Mexico is advancing with a win or a draw, and probably even still with a loss. As long as they don’t lose by a large enough margin for Sweden to catch up in goal differential, they should advance. Germany entered this tournament ranked by FIFA as the number 1 team in the world, and is looking at what feels like a must win game to advance. Germany wins and they are in. If they draw, and Sweden is able to beat Mexico, Germany will be on their way back home. They could potentially get in with a loss, but Sweden would have to lose to Mexico by more goals, or the same amount of goals as Germany lost by. Sweden wins and they are in as well. They would beat Mexico on the tie breaker, and it wouldn’t matter what the Germany/Korea Republic outcome is. If Sweden is to tie, they need a Germany loss, as they enter a match with Korea Republic in which they are the heavy favorites. Feels like a must win for Sweden as well.


Group G

Country Points Goal Differential Last Match
England 6 +6 Belgium
Belgium 6 +6 England
Tunisia 0 -4 Panama
Panama 0 -8 Tunisia


This group is settled. England and Belgium enter their last match of group play tied in points and in goal differential, and will be playing to see who wins the group. Regardless both teams advance. If they draw, the tie breaker will come down to who has the least amount of yellow cards, also known as “Fair Play”. If they draw on that as well, it will come down to a drawing. Tunisia and Panama will be playing for pride against each other in their last match before heading home.


Group H

Country Points Goal Differential Last Match
Japan 4 +1 Poland
Senegal 4 +1 Columbia
Columbia 3 +2 Senegal
Poland 0 -4 Japan


Ok all we know in this group is Poland is shockingly mathematically eliminated, and Japan and Senegal are shockingly sitting in position to advance. For Japan and Senegal both, either a win or draw will be enough to advance. If Japan was to lose, and Senegal and Columbia were to draw, Japan would be eliminated. The winner of the Senegal/Columbia matchup will advance, and to reiterate, they both advance with a draw if Poland is to beat Japan.

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