World Cup permutations: breaking down the final round of group games | World Cup 2022


Here is how the possible scenarios play out for qualifying for the last 16 of the World Cup from the final group games, which start on Tuesday.

Group A – Ecuador, Netherlands, Qatar, Senegal

Final matches Tuesday 29 December, 3pm GMT: Netherlands v Qatar, Ecuador v Senegal

The Netherlands: A draw will be enough against Qatar for Louis van Gaal’s men to qualify.

Ecuador: Ecuador need only a draw against Senegal to progress.

Senegal: Senegal must beat Ecuador to overhaul them.

Qatar are already eliminated, and there remains mathematical possibilities that Senegal could qualify with a draw, if the Netherlands suffer a heavy defeat against Qatar, but given the hosts’ performances so far in this tournament it seems unlikely this will come into the equation.

If both Ecuador and the Netherlands win, then the margin of victory and number of goals scored will determine who tops the group. If they both win by the same score on Tuesday, they will end up with identical records, and who finishes first will be determined by their disciplinary records. The Netherlands’ is currently better, with one yellow card to Ecuador’s three. If those end up level, Fifa draws lots to see who plays in which second round match.

A fan of the Netherlands at one of the matches.
A fan of the Netherlands at one of the matches. Photograph: Themba Hadebe/AP

Group B – England, Iran, USA, Wales

Final matches Tuesday 29 December, 7pm GMT: Wales v England, Iran v USA

England: A win against Wales will see England top the group. A draw will guarantee qualification. In fact, England will progress with any result except for a defeat by Wales of more than three goals.

Wales: Wales must beat England and hope that Iran and the USA draw. If the USA v Iran match ends with a winner, then Wales must beat England by four goals or more to knock them out directly. Wales have not beaten England since 1984, and have never managed a winning margin of four goals or more against their nearest neighbours.

Iran: Currently second in the group, a win against the USA will put Iran through to the World Cup second round for the first time in their history. A draw against the USA will also be enough for them, provided Wales fail to beat England.

USA: They must beat Iran to qualify, the result in the other match is irrelevant to their chances.

Wales fans in Doha for the World Cup.
Wales fans in Doha for the World Cup. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Group C – Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

Final matches Wednesday 30 November, 7pm GMT: Poland v Argentina, Saudi Arabia v Mexico

Poland: Poland qualify with a win or a draw against Argentina. They are not necessarily eliminated if they lose, provided Saudi Arabia don’t beat Mexico.

Argentina: Argentina must beat Poland to be sure of going through. A draw will be enough if Saudi Arabia and Mexico draw, or unless Mexico win that game by four or more goals

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia qualify with a win. A draw will be enough if Poland beat Argentina.

Mexico: Mexico qualify if they win and Poland beat Argentina. If Poland and Argentina draw, and Mexico win, it has to be by four goals or more to overhaul Argentina’s goal difference.

A fan poses for a photograph with a cardboard cut-out of Argentina’s Lionel Messi in Doha.
A fan poses for a photograph with a cardboard cut-out of Argentina’s Lionel Messi in Doha. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

Group D – Australia, Denmark, France, Tunisia

Final matches Wednesday 30 November, 3pm GMT: Australia v Denmark, Tunisia v France

France have qualified.

Australia: A win against Denmark puts them through. A draw will be enough, unless Tunisia beat France, in which case the Tunisians would progress instead.

Denmark: A win against Australia puts them through, unless Tunisia beat France, in which case goal difference would decide between Denmark and Tunisia. A draw is no good to Denmark.

Tunisia: Tunisia must beat France in an encounter likely to be highly charged by the colonial ties between the two nations. The Tunisians must also hope that Australia v Denmark is drawn. If Tunisia beat France and Denmark beat Australia, then whoever has the superior goal difference between the Danes and Tunisians will progress.

Tunisian fans attending their match against Australia.
Tunisian fans attending their match against Australia. Photograph: Hasan Bratic/SIPA/Shutterstock

Permutations for Groups E-H to come



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