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

With one group game left, what does each nation have to do to qualify for the last 16 of the Qatar World Cup?

Here is how the possible scenarios play out for qualifying for the last 16 of the World Cup from the final group games:

Group G – Brazil, Cameroon, Serbia, Switzerland

Final matches Friday 2 December, 7pm GMT: Cameroon v Brazil, Serbia v Switzerland

Brazil have qualified.

Switzerland: A win ensures Switzerland go through. A defeat means they go out. If Switzerland draw, they will still progress unless Cameroon have beaten Brazil, in which case goal difference will come into play.

Cameroon: Cameroon will progress only if they can beat Brazil, and Switzerland do not win. A draw between Serbia and Switzerland – or a Serbian victory – would leave second place being contested on goal difference between Cameroon and one of the European sides.

Serbia: Serbia will progress only if they can beat Switzerland. However, if Cameroon also beat Brazil, then second place will be contested on goal difference between Serbia and Cameroon.

  • Group G and Group H are paired in the draw. The winners of Group G play the runners-up of Group H in the next round, and vice-versa.

A Brazilian football fan seen ahead of the match between Brazil and Switzerland.
A Brazilian football fan seen ahead of the match between Brazil and Switzerland. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Group H – Ghana, Portugal, South Korea, Uruguay

Final matches Friday 2 December, 3pm GMT: South Korea v Portugal, Ghana v Uruguay

Portugal have qualified.

Ghana: A win against Uruguay will put Ghana through. A draw will be enough unless South Korea beat Portugal, in which case Ghana must hope South Korea pull off only a one goal victory, otherwise the Asian side will pip them on goal difference.

South Korea: They must beat Portugal, and hope that Ghana do not win. If Ghana draw then their hopes depend on their goal difference compared to Ghana. If Ghana lose, then South Korean hopes depend on their goal difference compared to Uruguay.

Uruguay: Uruguay must win, and hope that South Korea do not win against Portugal. If both Uruguay and South Korea win, then their relative goal differences will decide who qualifies. Uruguay start with a goal difference one worse than South Korea, so would have to beat Ghana by more than South Korea beat Portugal.

Hwang In-Beom of South Korea during the match between Korea Republic and Ghana.
Hwang In-Beom of South Korea during the match between Korea Republic and Ghana. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
  • The second round matches start at 3pm GMT on Saturday 3 December, and conclude at with a 7pm GMT kick-off on Tuesday 6 December.

Group A – Netherlands winners, Senegal runners-up

Louis van Gaal’s side beat the hosts, Qatar, 2-0 to secure top spot in Group A while Senegal beat Ecuador 2-1 to claim second place ahead of their opponents.

Group B – England winners, USA runners-up

England’s 3-0 win over Wales on Tuesday secured top spot and a last-16 meeting with Senegal on Sunday. The USA edged out Iran with a 1-0 win, and will face the Netherlands in Saturday’s opening last-16 game.

Group C – Argentina winners, Poland runners-up

Argentina’s 2-0 win over a lacklustre Poland saw them top the group, with the Poles also progressing as neither Saudi Arabia or Mexico could find the results they needed.

Group D – France winners, Australia runners-up

France stayed top of the pile despite a shock defeat to Tunisia, while Australia’s second victory in Qatar propelled them into second place and the second round at Denmark’s expense.

Group E – Japan winners, Spain runners-up

Japan’s victories against both Germany and Spain turned this group of death on its head, with Spain qualifying ahead of Germany on goal difference, thanks in no small part to their opening 7-0 victory over Costa Rica.

Group F – Morocco winners, Croatia runners-up

Victories against Belgium and Canada saw Morocco through to the second round for only the second time in their history, while Croatia went through the group unbeaten to take second place.

Last-16 fixtures confirmed:

Netherlands v USA (Saturday, 3pm GMT) Khalifa Stadium
Argentina v Australia (Saturday, 7pm GMT) Ahmad bin Ali Stadium
France v Poland (Sunday, 3pm GMT)
Al Thumama Stadium
England v Senegal (Sunday, 7pm GMT)
Al Bayt Stadium
Japan v Croatia (Monday, 3pm GMT) Al Janoub Stadium
Morocco v Spain (Tuesday, 3pm GMT)
Education City Stadium


Martin Belam

The GuardianTramp

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