World Cup tiebreakers: Uruguay, Greece and Japan all need wins

Mark Kolbe

Uruguay, Greece and Japan all need to pick up victories on Tuesday to stand any chance of making the World Cup knockout stages.

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

Groups C and D come to a close in Brazil on Tuesday, and there are still a good few teams in with a shout of progressing into the knockout stages. Here are the scenarios that could play out.

Group C

Colombia would make life easy in Group C if they pick up at least a point against Japan to win the group. If they do so, it'd be the winner of Ivory Coast's game with Greece that progressed in second place. If that game ends in a draw, Ivory Coast would advance.

If Ivory Coast beat Greece, they're through no matter what happens in the other match. But if they draw and Japan win, they'd both be on four points, and it'd come down to goal differential and then the other tiebreakers as required. If Greece and Japan win, Ivory Coast would be eliminated, and then it'd be down to goal differential to see who would progress with Colombia.

Colombia have already guaranteed their place in the knockout stages, and would only lose their grip on the group's top spot if they lose and Ivory Coast win, making up a big swing in goal differential in the process. In short, it's highly unlikely.

Group D

Costa Rica, yes, Costa Rica, head into the final slate of Group D games at the top of the group, already having guaranteed their place in the knockout stages. They'll likely stay there, too, unless they lose to eliminated England and the winner of the game between Italy and Uruguay ends up with a better goal differential.

Italy vs. Uruguay is essentially a straight fight to decide who will join Costa Rica in the knockouts. Italy have a slight advantage and only need a draw to progress, while Uruguay need to beat the Azzurri to avoid falling at the first hurdle.


Just as a reminder, here are the tiebreakers used if two or more teams end up level on points. They start with the first scenario, and go down the list until one of the rules breaks the tie.

  • Greatest number of points obtained in all the group matches.
  • Goal difference in the group matches.
  • Greatest number of goals scored in the group matches.
  • Head to head result

Almost every time, ties will be broken by one of those four rules. However, should the teams remained tied, FIFA has more tiebreakers.

  • Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned.
  • Greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned.
  • Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee.

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