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World Cup: Who can qualify and how

Dale Johnson | ESPNFC
June 23, 2014
Olivier Giroud and France are all but certain of celebrating a place in the last 16 © Getty Images

With the final round of group games taking place at the World Cup, ESPN's Dale Johnson takes us through who can qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament and who is heading home.

Group E
Fixtures (Wednesday, 9pm BST): Honduras v Switzerland, Ecuador v France

France: Need a point to be certain of both qualification and top spot in the group, though their far superior goal difference would require a four-goal defeat to Ecuador, and probably a five-goal win for Switzerland for them to finish third. Even one of those would have to happen for France to lose top spot.

Ecuador: Will qualify with a win unless Switzerland win by two more goals in their game, or if they better Switzerland's result. If both games are draws then Ecuador will qualify.

Switzerland: Must better Ecuador's result. If both teams win, Switzerland will have to win by two more goals than Ecuador beat France. If that happens three teams would be level on goal difference, with France first, Switzerland second and Ecuador third unless the huge scorelines as noted above occur.

Honduras: Must beat Switzerland, and probably by three goals to stand any chance, although though a 3-1 win would put them ahead of the Swiss on head to head and 4-2 on goals scored. They would also need Ecuador to lose to France by at least two goals. There is a scenario when all can finish with goal difference of 4-6, which would see the group decided on three-team head to head, and in that Honduras would finish second by virtue of the big win against Switzerland they would need to force that situation.

Group F
Fixtures (Wednesday, 5pm BST): Nigeria v Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina v Iran

Argentina: Have qualified and need a point against Nigeria to top the group.

Nigeria: Need a point to go through, and will finish first if they beat Argentina.

Iran: Must beat Bosnia-Herzegovina and hope Nigeria lose to Argentina. If Iran do win and Nigeria lose it will come down to goal difference. If the two teams finish level on goal difference and goals scored (for instance 1-0 in both games would do this), and this is certainly very possible, then second would be decided by drawing of lots (names out of a hat).

Bosnia-Herzegovina: The only debutants at this World Cup, have been knocked out.

Group G
Fixtures (Thursday, 5pm BST): USA v Germany, Portugal v Ghana

Germany: Need a point to secure both their place in the next round and top spot, and it would take big scorelines for them to even be eliminated with a defeat (see below).

USA: Need a point to secure their berth in the round of 16 but must beat Germany to finish top. Could also qualify with a defeat (see below).

Ghana: Must beat Portugal to have any chance, and hope there is a winner in the other game. If Germany lose, Ghana would need a five-goal swing in goal difference, head to head is level. If the USA lose, Ghana have a real chance. Ghana would qualify if either game is decided by a margin of two goals or more. If the USA lose by one goal, Ghana would need to win by two goals or be involved in a higher-scoring one-goal win. For instance, a 1-0 scoreline in both games would put the USA through on head to head. So, if the USA lose 1-0 then Ghana must win 2-1 to qualify on goals scored.

Portugal: Must beat Ghana and again hope there is a winner in the other group game but their heavy defeat to Germany means they have slim hopes of qualifying. If Germany lose, Portugal will need to win with a very unlikely goal difference swing of eight, and Germany hold the head-to-head advantage if goal difference finishes identical. If the USA lose, Portugal will need a goal difference swing of five (head to head is level), so for instance Portugal would need to win 3-0 and the USA lose 2-0. The teams will draw lots if goal difference is identical (this would happen with a 3-0 USA defeat and a 2-0 Portugal win).

Group H
Fixtures (Thursday, 9pm BST): South Korea v Belgium, Algeria v Russia

Belgium: Already assured of their passage and need a point against South Korea to win the group.

Algeria: Must beat Russia to be guaranteed a place in the knockout rounds, and if they do that they could also top the group if Belgium lose to South Korea. A draw will likely also be enough due to their superior goal difference up against South Korea, as a point will send Algeria through unless South Korea beat Belgium by three goals or more.

Russia: Have to win against Algeria and will definitely go through if South Korea do not beat Belgium. But a win might not be enough as South Korea could overtake them on goal difference if they do win.

South Korea: Must pick up all three points against Belgium and hope other results go their way. If Algeria-Russia is a draw then South Korea would have to win by at least three goals to go through. If Russia beat Algeria, then South Korea need to win by a greater margin than Russia to qualify. If Algeria beat Russia then South Korea are out.


1 - Overall goal difference

2 - Overall goals scored

3 - Head to head in games between those teams

4 - Goal difference in games between those teams

5 - Goals scored in games between those teams

6 - Drawing of lots

This article first appeared on ESPNFC

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