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World Cup advancement tracker: How each team can qualify for the knockout round

Tracking how each team can advance to the knockout round of the World Cup

Soccer: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022-England at USA Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Group play is winding down at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and as it does, the scenarios for the knockout round are coming into focus.

Here is what needs to happen for teams to advance to the round of 16.

Group A

Here are the current standings in Group A:

Qatar became the first host team eliminated from the knockout round after opening the World Cup with a pair of losses.

Netherlands qualifies with a win or a draw against Qatar, while Ecuador also qualifies for the knockout with a win or a draw in their final match of group play, against Senegal.

Senegal can still advance, but they can only advance with a victory over Ecuador. Any other result, including a draw, will see Senegal eliminated.

Group A concludes play on Tuesday, with Ecuador squaring off with Senegal, and Netherlands taking on Qatar. Both games kickoff at 10:00 a.m. ET.

The Netherlands and Senegal advanced to the knockout round with their victories on Tuesday, with the Netherlands winning the group.

Group B

Here are the current standings in Group B:

As noted earlier this weekend, the United States can still advance, after a pair of draws, but they must beat Iran on Tuesday. A draw or a loss sees the United States eliminated.

England will advance with a win or a draw against Wales in their final match of group play. There is also a scenario where England could advance with a loss. For example, if they were to lose 1-0 to Wales, and the United States were to beat Iran, both England and Wales would have four points. England, however, would advance as their goal differential would give them the tiebreaker over Wales.

Iran qualifies for the knockout round with a victory over the United States. If that match ends in a draw, then they would need some help to advance. If Iran draws with the United States, and Wales beats England, then England, Iran, and Wales would all have four points, and it would come down to tiebreakers. England, however, would likely advance in this scenario, given their current goal differential of +4.

Iran would also qualify with a draw with the United States, and a Wales loss to England, or a Wales draw with England.

Wales need the most help out of all the teams in Group B. They first must beat England, which would get them to four points. Any other result and Wales are eliminated. Then it would come down to tiebreakers, depending on the result of the match between the United States and Iran. If that match ends in a draw, then Wales would need to have a better goal differential than Iran to qualify. Both teams currently have a goal differential of -2, so a Wales victory combined with a draw between the United States and Iran could be enough to give Wales the edge.

Group B concludes action on Tuesday, with England squaring off with Wales and the United States taking on Iran. Both matches kickoff at 2:00 p.m. ET.

England and the United States advanced to the knockout round with their victories on Tuesday, with England winning Group B.

Group C

Here are the current standings in Group C:

Things get a little complicated here in Group C.

Poland advances with a win or a tie against Argentina in their final match of group play. If they lose, they can still advance, depending on the result between Saudi Arabia and Mexico. If Poland loses to Argentina, and the match between Saudi Arabia and Mexico ends in a draw, then both Poland and Saudi Arabia would have four points, and it would come to the goal differential between the two teams. If Poland loses to Argentina, and Mexico wins, then both Poland and Mexico would have four points, and it would come down to the goal differential between the two teams. If, somehow, goal differential could not determine which team advances, the next tiebreaker is goals scored.

Argentina qualifies for the knockout round with a win over Poland, but they would be eliminated with a loss. If the match between Argentina and Poland ends in a draw, then the result of the match between Mexico and Saudi Arabia is a factor. If Saudi Arabia beats Mexico, then Argentina would be eliminated with a draw against Poland. But if that match ends in a draw, or a Mexico win, a tie for Argentina against Poland would see qualification come down to tiebreakers. For example, a draw between Poland and Argentina, followed by a 1-0 win for Mexico, would see Argentina advance with the better goal differential. But if both matches end level, then Argentina would advance over Saudi Arabia, thanks to their better goal differential.

Saudi Arabia qualifies for the knockout round with a win over Mexico, and a loss would see their World Cup end. They can advance with a draw, depending on the outcome of the match between Argentina and Poland. If Saudi Arabia and Mexico finish level, then Saudi Arabia still qualifies if Poland beats Argentina. However, a draw between Saudi Arabia and Mexico, and a draw between Argentina and Poland, would see Saudi Arabia eliminated.

For Mexico, they first must beat Saudi Arabia. A loss or a draw will see Mexico eliminated. If both Mexico and Poland win, then Mexico qualifies. If Mexico wins, and the match between Poland and Argentina ends in a tie, then Mexico’s qualification comes down to goal differential between Mexico and Argentina. If Mexico wins, and Argentina wins, then Mexico’s qualification comes down to goal differential between Mexico and Poland.

With a goal differential of -2 right now, Mexico has some work to do if it comes down to tiebreakers.

Group C action concludes Wednesday, with both matches kicking off at 2:00 p.m. ET.

With Wednesday’s results, Argentina and Poland advanced, with Argentina winning the group. Poland advanced despite Mexico’s victory over Saudi Arabia, thanks to a goal in stoppage time from Saudi Arabia that gave Poland the edge in goal differential.

Group D

Here are the current standings in Group D:

France has qualified for the knockout round thanks to victories over Australia and Denmark.

Australia can still advance to the knockout round with a win over Denmark in their final match of group play. They would be eliminated with a loss. If Australia and Denmark finish level, then Australia advance to the knockout round provided the match between France and Tunisia ends in a draw, or with a French victory. If Australia and Denmark draw, and Tunisia beats France, it would come down to tiebreakers between Australia and Tunisia.

Denmark advances if they beat Australia, and the match between France and Tunisia ends in either a French victory, or a draw. If Denmark wins, and Tunisia wins, both teams would be on four points, and it would come down to tiebreakers. With the first tiebreaker being goal differential — and both teams sitting at -1 right now — the final scores in those matches will be something to watch.

For Tunisia to advance, they must first beat France. Then, they will need some help. Even if they beat France, a win for Australia would see Australia through to the second round, and Tunisia eliminated. If Tunisia wins, and the other match ends in a draw, it would come down to tiebreakers between Tunisia and Australia. If Tunisia wins, and Denmark wins, it would come down to tiebreakers between Tunisia and Denmark.

Group D concludes group play on Wednesday, with both matches kicking off at 10:00 a.m. ET.

With Wednesday’s results, both France and Australia have advanced to the round of 16, with France winning the group.

Group E

Here are the current standings in Group E after the matches on Sunday:

Costa Rica’s stunning victory over Japan means every team is alive heading into the final day of matches.

Which makes for some complicated scenarios.

For Spain, things are relatively simple. A victory over Japan would see them qualify for the knockout round, with seven points from group play. In addition, a draw with Japan would see them through to the next round as well, as that would give them five points, and Japan would be at four. In this scenario, Costa Rica would win the group with a victory over Germany while Spain would advance as runners-up. Or, if Germany were to win against Costa Rica, or that match ends in a draw, Spain would still win the group with a draw against Japan.

Spain can still advance with a loss, depending on the result between Germany and Costa Rica. Should Spain lose to Japan, a draw between Costa Rica and Germany would have both Spain and Costa Rica on four points. Spain’s huge advantage in goal differential — thank to their 7-0 victory over Costa Rica — would see them through.

Japan advances to the knockout round with a win over Spain, as that would put Japan on six points from group play. Japan can still advance with a draw, depending on the result between Germany and Costa Rica. If Japan and Spain finish level, Japan would advance if the other match ends in a draw. In that scenario, both Japan and Costa Rica would have four points, but Japan’s goal differential would be the difference. If Japan and Spain play to a draw and Germany wins, additional tiebreakers could come into play. For example, say the score between Japan and Spain is 2-2, but Germany beats Costa Rica 1-0. In this scenario, both Japan and Germany would have 4 points, and a goal differential of 0. The next tiebreaker is goals scored, and in this scenario Japan would have 4, while Germany 3.

My head hurts...

Now we can talk about Germany. Germany must defeat Costa Rica on Thursday to have a chance at advancing. That would put them on four points from group play. German would then need Spain to defeat Japan. Spain would win the group, and Germany would finish as runners-up just ahead of Japan and Costa Rica.

Germany can also advance if, as described above, the match between Japan and Spain ends level and Germany has the better goal differential between them and Japan.

For Costa Rica, a win over Germany makes things easy. Anything else, and their current goal differential of -6 makes things complicated. Costa Rica qualifies for the knockout round with a win over Germany, which would put them on six points. A victory coupled with a draw between Spain and Japan would see Costa Rica win the group. A Costa Rica win, coupled with a win from Spain, and Spain wins the group while Costa Rica finishes as runners-up. A Costa Rica win coupled with a win for Japan would see those two nations finish with six points each, and Japan holds the tiebreaker advantage right now with their goal differential.

Costa Rica can still advance with a draw, as that would get them to four points. They would just need Spain to beat Japan. If Costa Rica finishes level with Germany, and Spain and Japan play to a draw, both Costa Rica and Japan would have four points, and Japan would go through on goal differential.

The final matches of group play take place on Thursday, with both matches kicking off at 2:00 p.m. ET. Japan squares off with Spain, while Germany tangles with Costa Rica.

Following a frantic pair of matches, both Japan and Spain qualified for the knockout round, with Japan winning the group.

Group F

Here are the current standings in Group F:

Sunday’s matches shook the table in Group F.

Canada’s loss to Croatia saw the Canadians eliminated from the knockout round.

Belgium had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 with a win over Morocco, but Morocco’s stunning victory puts Morocco in good position to advance. Belgium now sit third in Group F, and need a victory over Croatia in their third match of group play to advance. With a win, they would qualify for the knockout round. A draw between Belgium and Croatia could still see Belgium advance, provided the match between Canada and Morocco ends in a Canada win, and Belgium somehow wins the ensuing tiebreaker with Morocco.

Croatia qualifies for the knockout round with a win or a draw against Belgium. They can still advance with a loss to Belgium, if Canada beats Morocco. It would then come down to tiebreakers between Croatia and Morocco for the second spot out of Group F.

Morocco qualifies for the knockout round with a win or a draw against Canada. They can still advance with a loss to Canada, depending on the result between Belgium and Croatia. If Morocco loses to Canada, and Croatia wins against Belgium, Morocco would advance with a loss. If Morocco loses to Canada, and Belgium wins against Croatia, then the runner-up spot would come down to Morocco and Croatia, and tiebreakers.

Group F play concludes on Thursday, with both matches kicking off at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Morocco and Croatia advanced to the round of 16 after Thursday’s matches, with Morocco winning Group F.

Group G

Here are the current standings in Group G after Monday’s pair of matches:

With Brazil’s 1-0 victory over Switzerland, they clinched a spot in the knockout round. They will advance as the winners of Group G with either a win or a draw in their final match of group play, which is set for Friday against Cameroon. They can still win the group with a loss, depending on how Switzerland fares in their final match, against Serbia. If Brazil loses, and Switzerland wins, both teams will have six points from group play, and it would come down to goal differential to see who wins the group, and who advances as the runners-up.

For Switzerland, the loss to Brazil left them on three points, but they are still in good position to advance. They qualify for the knockout round with a victory over Serbia on Friday. They can still advance with a draw on Friday, depending on what happens in the match between Cameroon and Brazil. If Switzerland and Serbia draw, Switzerland will still advance with a Brazil win on Friday, or a draw between Brazil and Cameroon. If Switzerland and Serbia draw, Switzerland can still advance if a few things happen. First, Cameroon would need to win by just one goal — most likely a 1-0 result — moving their goal differential to 0. That would see both teams on four points from group play, and with the same goal differential. Then, the draw between Serbia and Switzerland would need to be a goal fest, giving Switzerland the advantage in the next tiebreaker, goals scored.

For Cameroon, they need to beat Brazil on Friday to have any hopes of advancing. Any other result and their World Cup dreams are dashed. A win over Brazil would put them on four points, but they would need some tiebreaker help depending on the result between Serbia and Switzerland. If that match ends level, Cameroon would need to win the tiebreaker over Switzerland. If the match between Serbia and Switzerland ends with a win for Serbia, Cameroon would need to win the tiebreaker over Serbia.

A win for Cameroon, coupled with a win for Switzerland, would see Switzerland advance.

For Serbia, they first have to beat Switzerland. If they get that result, a win for Brazil, or a draw between Brazil and Cameroon, is enough to see Serbia through. If Serbia wins, and Cameroon wins, they would have to win the tiebreaker against Cameroon to advance.

Group G play concludes Friday, with both matches kicking off at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Group H

Here are the current standings in Group H, with matches having just concluded:

With Portugal’s victory over Uruguay, they have clinched a place in the knockout round.

Here is how they can win the group. If they win against South Korea on Friday, or play to a draw, they are guaranteed to win Group H regardless of how the other match turns out. Portugal can still win the group with a loss on Friday, provided the match between Ghana and Uruguay ends in a draw, or with a Uruguay win. If Portugal were to lose on Friday, and Ghana were to win, then the winner of the group would be determined by goal differential between Portugal and Ghana, as both teams would have six points from group play.

Ghana advances with a win against Uruguay on Friday. As noted above, they can still win the group, if Portugal loses to South Korea and Ghana wins by a healthy enough margin over Uruguay to win the tiebreaker against Portugal. Ghana advances if their match against Uruguay finishes level, if South Korea either loses to Portugal, or that match finishes with a draw. A draw with Uruguay, and a victory for South Korea over Portugal, would see Ghana eliminated. Should Ghana lose to Uruguay, they would be eliminated.

For South Korea to advance, they would first need to defeat Portugal on Friday, which would put them on four points. Any other result and they are eliminated. Then their World Cup dreams would hinge on the result between Ghana and Uruguay. If that match were to end in a win for Ghana, South Korea would be eliminated, even with a victory over Portugal. If the match between Ghana and Uruguay ends in a draw, Ghana and South Korea would both have four points from group play, and South Korea would need to win the goal differential tiebreaker. If the Uruguay and Ghana match ends with a victory for Uruguay, then both Uruguay and South Korea would have four points, and Uruguay would need to win the tiebreaker.

Uruguay’s hopes follow a similar path. For Uruguay to advance, they would first need to defeat Ghana on Friday, which would put them on four points. A draw or a loss and they are eliminated. Then their World Cup dreams would hinge on the result between Portugal and South Korea. If that match were to end in a win for Portugal, or a draw, Uruguay would advance. If Uruguay defeats Ghana, and South Korea defeats Portugal, then both Uruguay and South Korea would have four points, and it would come down to tiebreakers.

Group play in Group H concludes on Friday, with both matches kicking off at 10:00 a.m. ET.

After Friday’s matches, Portugal and South Korea advanced out of Group H, with Portugal winning the group.