Qualification Scenarios for Second Round

Debopam Roy looks into the qualification scenarios for the second round of the World Cup 2014.

We have finished 2 rounds of the FIFA World Cup 2014 and teams go to their last group stage match with round of 16 qualifications at stake.  Some of the teams have already exited – World Champions Spain and former champions England most notable among them. One more former champion is sure to join them as only one of Italy or Uruguay can qualify. To avoid any team having undue advantage these last couple of matches in a group will be played simultaneously. While teams are scratching their heads to figure out what they need to do – not only to qualify but to get an easier opponent in the next round – we look at each of the groups and the qualification scenarios.

The top two ranked teams from each group would qualify. Following factors will be taken into account in the sequence provided to decide the ranking of teams in each group:

  1. Points in all group matches, with three points awarded for a win, one point for a draw and none for a loss.
  2. Goal difference in all group matches
  3. Goals scored in all group matches
  4. Points in matches between tied teams
  5. Goal difference in matches between tied teams
  6. Goals scored in matches between tied teams
  7. Drawing of lots


Cameroon has been eliminated in Group A. All 3 other teams can qualify for the second round. In the final round of matches, Brazil play Cameroon and Mexico play Croatia.

Brazil Qualification: Brazil will qualify if they avoid a loss against Cameroon. If they lose to Cameroon, they would want a win for either Mexico or Croatia in the other group match. In case of a draw, Brazil would be eliminated. But Brazil should surely push for a convincing win to ensure they get the second best team from group B to face in Round of 16.But is it tempting? Especially if the team to face is Netherlands? Tricky question.

Mexico Qualification: Mexico will qualify as long as they avoid defeat against Croatia. If they are defeated, they would want Cameroon to beat Brazil by a margin which is at least 2 goals more than their loss margin. This would make Brazil’s goal difference worse than theirs. In case the goal difference is also same, and both Brazil and Mexico lose, Mexico needs to score at least 3 goals more than what Brazil has scored against Cameroon. If Mexico scores 2 goals more than Brazil and both the teams lose and also end up with the same goal difference? Can I be the lucky one drawing the lots?

Croatia Qualification: Anything less than a win will virtually see Croatia go home. In paper, they can still qualify with a draw, but then Brazil will have to lose against Cameroon.


This is the group that is already decided. Netherlands and Chile have already qualified. Australia and Spain have been eliminated. In the final round, The Netherlands will play Chile and Australia will play Spain.

The only academic interest is who will top the group. Whoever wins between the Dutch and Chile will top. In case it is a draw, Netherlands will remain on top owing to their superior goal difference. The prize for topping the group is not a small one though – avoid the hosts in the next round.


Colombia, the seeded team has qualified from this group. One of Ivory Coast, Japan or Greece will join them. In the final round of matches, Colombia play Japan and Ivory Coast play Greece.

Ivory Coast Qualification: Ivory Coast will surely qualify with a win. If results go their way – a high scoring win and Colombia suffering a loss to overturn a four goal difference – they can even top this group.  If they draw, they would qualify as long as Japan does not beat Colombia with a margin of two goals or higher, or scores more than Ivory Coast’s last match in a one goal margin victory. If Ivory Coast loses to Greece, they will be eliminated..

Japan Qualification: Japan will qualify only with a win. Nothing less will suit them. Even then, Ivory Coast can ruin their party with a win of their own. If ivory Coast draws their match, Japan has to win by a margin of two goals or more or score two goals more than Ivory Coast in a one goal margin victory.

Greece Qualification: Greece will only qualify if they beat Ivory Coast. If Japan wins their game against Colombia, Greece has to better their winning margin by tree goals or more. A winning margin better than two by that of Japan will give rise to the unlikely scenario of drawing lots.


The group of death threw up an unexpected Reaper of Souls. Costa Rica, the rank outsiders beat 2 former World Cup champions – Italy and Uruguay to qualify for the second round. Those two meet in the final round to decide who will qualify. England has been eliminated.

It’s a simple do-or-die match. Whoever wins – Italy or Uruguay, will qualify. If it is a draw, Italy would qualify. The situation is so weird in this group; winner of that match may well qualify as the group winner – if England can upset Costa Rica and then depending upon the goal differences – and then have to face the second best team from Group C.


This is the first group where each of the 4 teams has a chance to qualify. In the last round of matches, France play Ecuador and Switzerland play Honduras.

France Qualification: France’s missing out is only a mathematical possibility and will need a goal rout. For France to not qualify, first Ecuador has to beat them by 4 goal difference or more. Then Switzerland will also have to win against Honduras by at least 5 goals margin or score five more goals than France in a four goal margin victory. For every other scenario, France will qualify. If that happens, well, well, well!!! Anyway France looks set to top the group and avoid Argentina in the next round.

Ecuador Qualification: Ecuador needs to at least match Switzerland’s result in the other game to qualify. If both of them win, Ecuador can afford to win by one less than Switzerland’s winning margin. Anything worse and Ecuador will be out. If both Ecuador and Switzerland lose, then Switzerland Qualification: Switzerland needs to better Ecuador’s result to qualify and score 2 more goals. So if Ecuador wins by 1 goal margin, they need to win by a 3 goal margin at least. If Ecuador has a draw, the Swiss would need a victory of any margin to qualify. If Ecuador loses, then even a draw would be sufficient. Switzerland can qualify even after losing: if Ecuador loses by two goal margin worse than that of Switzerland, they themselves do not lose by more than two goals to Honduras…whole lot of complex scenarios will arise.

Honduras Qualification: Honduras would need to win against Switzerland by at least 3 goals and hope France beats Ecuador by 1-0 or more than a goal margin.

3 teams at 6: There is a possibility that France, Ecuador and Switzerland may end up at 6. This may happen if both Ecuador and Switzerland win.  France has a far superior goal difference and goals scored tally. In such a scenario, everything will depend on how many goals Ecuador has scored against France. A small win for Ecuador may not be enough as Switzerland may win big against Honduras and pip Ecuador.

3 teams at 3: This can happen if France and Honduras wins. Then Ecuador, Switzerland and Honduras would end up at 3 points. As long as margin is 2 in the Honduras Switzerland match, the advantage is with Switzerland. If they lose by a three goal margin, they would be out.


Argentina has already qualified from Group F and Bosnia Herzegovina has been eliminated. One of Iran or Nigeria will join Argentina. In the final round up, Argentina play Nigeria and Iran take on Bosnia Herzegovina

Nigeria Qualification: Nigeria just needs a draw to qualify. If they lose by two goal margin or more, they would want Iran not to win. If Nigeria lose by a single goal margin, they would not want Iran to win by more than one goal margin. If both Nigeria lose and Iran win by one goal margin, then Nigeria has to equal the number of goals scored by Iran. If the number of goals scored by Iran is more than that of Nigeria by one, then it would be draw of lots. Anything’s worse for Nigeria and they will be out. A surprise win for Nigeria will however make them top the group and force Argentina to take on France in round of 16.

Iran Qualification: Iran would hope Argentina beat Nigeria by 1 goal or more and then win against Bosnia. The complexity will be the same as that of Nigeria.


Again another group where every team is alive with a realistic chance of going through to the second round. Germany faces USA in their last match, which will see at least one – or both – team to the second round. Elsewhere Portugal takes on Ghana.

Germany Qualification: A draw in this match will set both Germany and USA through to the next round making the other match insignificant. That, or a German victory will give them the pole position. Surprisingly, Germany can even be knocked out! For that to happen, Germany has to lose and Ghana-Portugal match has to give us a winner. Then these two results should be against Germany to overturn a 5 (if Ghana wins) or 8 (if Portugal wins) goal difference. Anything less, and Germany will be safe.

USA Qualification: A draw will be enough for USA to sail through. USA can be eliminated with a loss, if Ghana-Portugal match does not produce a draw. Then these two results should favour Ghana or Portugal to overturn a 2 or 5 goal difference respectively over USA. Anything less, and Germany will be safe.

Ghana Qualification: Any result in the USA-Germany match will be curtains for Ghana. If Germany wins, Ghana will qualify with a victory margin of two goals or more. If both Germany and Ghana win by one goal margin, then Ghana has to outscore USA by two goals. In case USA wins, Ghana has to win and overturn a 5 goal difference – a near impossible task. Portugal Qualification: Portugal are almost out of it. Any result in the USA-Germany match will be all over for them. Even if that match has a winner, Portugal has to thump Ghana to overturn a whopping 5 or 8 goal difference (depending upon who wins the other match, USA or Germany).


No one is eliminated from the group. Belgium has qualified from this group and will face South Korea in their last group match. Algeria will take on Russia to complete the group.

Algeria Qualification: An outright win will be enough for the North African nation. That will be a huge result for them and a loss for Belgium will most likely hand them a pole position. A draw will also do if South Korea wins by less than three goal margin or wins by three goal margin but does not outscore Algeria by three goals. Algeria can also progress with a loss if the other match does not produce a result.

Russia Qualification: To qualify, Russia has to win and also ensure that South Korea does not win by a better goal margin than its own. If South Korea betters its winning margin than that of Russia by two or more goals, then Russia will be knocked out. If the winning margin difference is against Russia by one goal, then Russia has to outscore South Korea by at least three goals. If, in a bizarre scenario, South Korea’s winning margin is one more than that of Russia and also Russia outscores South Korea by two goals, then we have no option but to draw lots.

South Korea Qualification: South Korea has to win to qualify. But even then, they will be knocked out if Algeria beats Russia. Life will not be easy otherwise too. Complexities of a Russia win are already discussed. A draw in that game means that South Korea has to win by a margin of four goals or more, or at least a margin of three but outscores Algeria by three goals.

About Debopam Roy

Debopam Roy follows football in Italy and South America. You can reach him on Twitter @rossoneri