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2014 World Cup: Breaking Down the Possible Group Outcomes Going into Final Round

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IJune 22, 2014

2014 World Cup: Breaking Down the Possible Group Outcomes Going into Final Round

1 of 9

    Fernando Llano/Associated Press

    With every one of the 32 nations having played two matches in Brazil, the field for the round of 16 is beginning to take shape.

    Six teams have already assured themselves a place in the top two spots in their respective group and head into their final match only wondering who their opponents will be in the round of 16.

    Meanwhile, five nations have been mathematically eliminated from the competition, leaving only pride to fight for in their final group matches.

    For the rest of the 21 nations, though, everything rides on this final round of matches, in which every group will have their four teams playing simultaneously to avoid any possible conspiring (see Germany vs. Poland in 1982 and Argentina vs. Peru in 1978).

    Unfortunately for fans, the tiebreaker rules make it so hard to follow the action in the group that even the fans don't know what to root for when it comes to their own nation.

    So what does each team have left to fight for and who should be headed to the round of 16?

    Here's a complete breakdown of the possible outcomes from the final group matches at the 2014 World Cup.

Group A

2 of 9

    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    Table

      WLDGFGAGDPts
    Brazil10131+24
    Mexico10110+14
    CroatiaCroatia11053+23
    Cameroon02005-50

     

    Remaining Matches

    Brazil vs. Cameroon

    Mexico vs. Croatia

     

    Possible Outcomes for Each Nation

    Brazil

    A win or a draw against Cameroon assures the hosts of safe passage through the group and into the round of 16. The win would almost assure them top spot in the group, as Mexico would have to beat Croatia and make up their inferior goal difference or goals for records to take the top.

    Draws in both matches would also give Brazil the group title, but a Brazil draw, coupled with either a Mexico win or Croatia win, would see Brazil finish second behind that victor.

    A Brazil loss to Cameroon, on the other hand, would take the Brazilians' fate out of their own hands, as a draw between Mexico and Croatia would shockingly eliminate the South American giants. A Brazilian loss, coupled with a Mexico win, though, would save Brazil's blushes and put them through in second place.

    Finally, if Brazil loses and Croatia loses, Brazil would go through, unless they lose by multiple goals and allow Mexico to make up the goal differential in their loss.


    Mexico

    Mexico's hope of getting through this group lies entirely in their match with Croatia. A loss there would likely eliminate Mexico from the competition, while a draw or a win would see them advance to the round of 16. The draw would see Mexico end the group in second place, unless Brazil lost to Cameroon, in which case they would top the group.

    A win over Croatia would mean that Mexico wins the group if Brazil fails to defeat Cameroon. A win for both Mexico and Brazil, though, would likely mean Mexico finishes runners-up, as the Mexicans would also have to make up the one-goal deficit they have in goal difference.


    Croatia

    It's simple for Croatia: Win and they are through to the round of 16; lose and they are eliminated. What's more, if the Croatians draw, they are probably still eliminated, as they would need a Brazil loss to save them and send them through in second place.

    A Croatia win over Mexico would mean the Croatians would advance atop the group if Brazil fail to defeat Cameroon and get a second-place finish if Brazil win.


    Cameroon

    Eliminated
     

     

    Analysis

    After two atrocious performances in losses to Mexico and Croatia, Cameroon is mathematically eliminated from the tournament.

    Their play does not breed a lot of confidence for their upcoming match with hosts Brazil, suggesting that the Brazilians will waltz into the round of 16.

    That means second place will come down to the other match, with Mexico just needing a draw against Croatia to go through.

    Given Mexico's strong defensive showings so far and Croatia's pre-tournament struggles going forward, Monday might shape up to be a great day for Mexico football, one that was hard to see coming during qualifying..

    Then again, it's hard to go against the talent at Croatia's disposal.

     

    Prediction

    Brazil 4-0 Cameroon

    Mexico 0-1 Croatia

    Brazil win the group; Croatia advance in second; Mexico eliminated

Group B

3 of 9

    Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    Table

      WLDGFGAGDPts
    NetherlandsNetherlands20083+56
    Chile20051+46
    Australia02036-30
    SpainSpain02017-60

     

    Remaining Matches

    Netherlands vs. Chile

    Spain vs. Australia

     

    Possible Outcomes for Each Nation

    Netherlands

    The Dutch have already clinched a place in the round of 16. Their match with Chile determines which team wins the group and likely avoids the hosts. The Netherlands just need a draw with Chile to have this happen, but a loss would see them finish runners-up.


    Chile

    Just like the Netherlands, Chile have already booked a place in the next round and are merely fighting with the Dutch to see who wins the group. A win is the only way they can leapfrog the Dutch into the top spot.


    Australia

    The Socceroos have been eliminated from the World Cup.


    Spain

    Shockingly, the defending champions are already out of the competition after two group matches.

     

    Analysis

    While the Spanish have nothing to play for in their final match, expect the defending World Cup champions to come out swinging to try to regain some of the pride they lost in the first two matches of this competition.

    In the other match, it might seem like neither has much to play for since they are already through to the round of 16, but both the Netherlands and Chile will likely take this match quite seriously to try and avoid Brazil.

    While both have looked quite impressive in their first two matches, the Dutch advantage should be enough to see them top the group.

     

    Prediction

    Spain 2-0 Australia

    Netherlands 1-1 Chile

    Netherlands win group; Chile advance in second

Group C

4 of 9

    Sergei Grits/Associated Press

    Table

      WLDGFGAGDPts
    Colombia20051+46
    Ivory Coast1113303
    Japan01112-11
    Greece01103-31

     

    Remaining Matches

    Colombia vs. Japan

    Ivory Coast vs. Greece

     

    Possible Outcomes for Each Nation

    Colombia

    Colombia have already booked a place in the round of 16, with two victories in their first two matches. The South Americans will finish top of the group, unless they lose to Japan, the Ivory Coast defeats Greece and the two results are both lopsided enough that the Ivory Coast makes up the disadvantage in goal differential.


    Ivory Coast 

    A win over Greece would be enough to send the Ivory Coast into the round of 16. In that case, the Africans would finish runners-up to Colombia, unless the Colombians lose and the Ivorians somehow make up the four-goal disadvantage they currently have in goal difference.

    A draw would probably be enough to send the Ivorians through, though they could be eliminated if Japan defeat Colombia by multiple goals or, even more unlikely, if Japan win by one goal and score three or more goals than the Ivorians do in the last match. In the worst-case scenario, though, the Ivorians would be eliminated with a loss to Greece.


    Japan

    Even though they currently sit in third, Japan head into the final match in the worst shape of the four nations in this group. The Japanese need to defeat Colombia in their final match and still hope for help in the other match.

    To be specific, the Japanese would need either Greece to defeat the Ivorians and fail to make up the two-goal disadvantage they currently have in goal differential or for the Ivory Coast to draw Greece and hope they can make up the goal differential over the Ivorians.


    Greece

    Greece must defeat the Ivory Coast to have any hope of advancing through the group. If they do get the win, the Greeks would only need Japan to fail to defeat Colombia. Even if Japan does defeat Colombia, though, the Greeks could defeat the Ivory Coast by enough to make up their disadvantage in goal difference.

     

    Analysis

    The Colombians have been the dark-horse package that they were expected to be, playing attractive football and looking like a formidable side.

    It's hard to see Japan being able to defeat this Colombian side, let alone getting the help they need in the other match to see them through.

    As for Greece, it would be just like this side to eke out a 1-0 victory on Tuesday and somehow find their way into the round of 16.

    It's hard to imagine the Ivorians letting that happen, though. The Africans have such a talented side and deserve to finally get through now that they're not in a World Cup Group of Death.

     

    Prediction

    Colombia 2-0 Japan

    Ivory Coast 2-1 Greece

    Colombia win the group; Ivory Coast advance in second; Japan and Greece eliminated

Group D

5 of 9

    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    Table

      WLDGFGAGDPts
    Costa RicaCosta Rica20041+36
    ItalyItaly1102203
    Uruguay11034-13
    England02024-20

     

    Remaining Matches

    Costa Rica vs. England

    Italy vs. Uruguay

     

    Possible Outcomes for Each Nation

    Costa Rica

    The most surprising side in this World Cup so far, the Ticos have already wrapped up a spot in the round of 16. Unless they lose to England and either Uruguay or Italy can win and make up the goal differential, Costa Rica will finish atop this group.


    Italy 

    The Italians looked in firm control of this group before their match with Costa Rica, but they suddenly face a do-or-die match with Uruguay. A draw sees them through to the round of 16, while a win coupled with a Costa Rica loss could see Italy win the group if the goal differences work out.


    Uruguay 

    A win against Italy is all that can save Uruguay and send them through the group. Such a win would likely see the Uruguayans finish as runners-up in the group, as it would take a Costa Rica loss to England and a few goals in both matches for the South Americans to leapfrog Costa Rica.


    England 

    The English are already eliminated after two group matches.

     

    Analysis

    After two close losses, England is out of the tournament, and the players seem understandably down.

    One would expect the players to come out looking to get some sort of moral victory to take home, but the pain of elimination might be too much for them to recover from.

    Luis Suarez's return was vital for Uruguay in their victory over England. Even though he's not operating at 100 percent, Suarez has shown that he has the ability to turn a match in a moment.

    However, with Uruguay and Italy both desperate heading into this match, I expect the Italians' pre-match advantage on goal differential to prove vital.

    Don't be surprised if Suarez makes me eat those words, though.

     

    Prediction

    Costa Rica 1-1 England

    Italy 1-1 Uruguay

    Costa Rica win the group; Italy advance in second; Uruguay eliminated

Group E

6 of 9

    David Vincent/Associated Press

    Table

      WLDGFGAGDPts
    France20082+66
    Ecuador1103303
    Switzerland11046-23
    Honduras02015-40

     

    Remaining Matches

    France vs. Ecuador

    Switzerland vs. Honduras

     

    Possible Outcomes for Each Nation

    France

    The French haven't technically clinched a spot in the round of 16 just yet, but for all practical purposes they have. To be eliminated from the group, France would need to lose to Ecuador by at least four or more goals or three goals with at least seven total goals and have Switzerland defeat Honduras by enough goals to overcome their eight-goal deficit in goal difference.

    Similarly, France will almost certainly finish atop the group. If the aforementioned scenario happens without Switzerland making up the goal difference, then Ecuador will pip France for the top spot, while France advance in second.

    Similarly, if Ecuador defeat France by less goals than those mentioned above and Switzerland defeat Honduras by enough to overcome their goal-difference deficit, then Switzerland finish atop the standings, and France finish second. In any case other than these unlikely ones, France finish atop the group.


    Ecuador

    Ecuador's fate is very much up in the air right now and is wrapped up in both of the remaining two matches.

    If Ecuador can defeat France by four or more goals or by three goals with a minimum scoreline of 5-2, then Ecuador is through. If they beat France by any other score, Ecuador advance as runners-up unless Switzerland can defeat Honduras by enough to overturn their deficit in goal difference.

    A draw with France is good enough for Ecuador to advance if Switzerland fail to defeat Honduras. However, Ecuador is eliminated if they draw France and Switzerland defeat Honduras.

    Finally, an Ecuador loss to France would eliminate them from the group if Switzerland do not lose to Honduras. If that happens, Ecuador must not lose by enough to allow Switzerland to make up the two-goal deficit in goal differential or for Honduras to make up their four-goal deficit.


    Switzerland

    Similar to the Ecuadorians, Switzerland's tournament could end one of many ways on the final day.
    If the Swiss win against Honduras, they advance as runners-up as long as Ecuador does not defeat France. If Ecuador does defeat France, the Swiss will have to hope to make up the goal difference against either Ecuador or France.

    Switzerland are eliminated with a draw against Honduras unless Ecuador lose to France, in which case they advance in second place.

    Finally, Switzerland is eliminated if they lose by more than one goal. However, they advance as runners-up with a one-goal loss if Ecuador also lose to France by enough goals that they end up with just as low of a goal difference (and goals for if the goal difference is equal).


    Honduras 

    The Hondurans are still alive after two losses, but barely. Honduras needs to win to avoid elimination, and even then they need help. In short, Honduras must win by at least two goals, and then they need Ecuador to lose to France by enough goals for Honduras to make up their four-goal deficit in goal difference.

     

    Analysis 

    On paper, there are a lot of ways this group could end up.

    In reality, though, it's hard to see France losing, let alone by a number of goals.

    Further, it's not too likely that Switzerland will lay as big of an egg as they did against France.

    Expect the French to take care of business against Ecuador and Switzerland to advance with a result against Honduras.

     

    Prediction

    France 2-0 Ecuador

    Switzerland 2-1 Honduras

    France wins the group; Switzerland advances in second; Ecuador and Honduras eliminated

Group F

7 of 9

    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Table

      WLDGFGAGDPts
    ArgentinaArgentina20031+26
    Nigeria10110+14
    Iran01101-11
    Bosnia and Herzegovina02013-20

     

    Remaining Matches

    Argentina vs. Nigeria

    Iran vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina

     

    Possible Outcomes for Each Nation

    Argentina 

    They haven't seemed to hit full stride just yet, but Argentina is still guaranteed a spot in the round of 16 with two victories. With anything other than a loss to Nigeria, Argentina will win the group.

     

    Nigeria 

    After a few lucky breaks against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria seem to be in great shape heading into the final group match. Anything other than a loss to Argentina will see them through to the round of 16, while even a loss will be good enough, unless Iran also win and finish with a better goal difference or an equal goal difference and at least as many goals.

    The worst possible outcome for everyone would be if Nigeria lose to Argentina by one goal and Iran defeats Bosnia and Herzegovina by the same scoreline, because that would mean that there would be a drawing of lots to determine who goes to the round of 16 and who is eliminated between the two.

     

    Iran 

    It's win-or-go-home situation for Iran, as they must defeat Bosnia and Herzegovina to have any hope to advance to the round of 16.

    If that were to happen, Iran would also need Nigeria to lose to Argentina and have either one of the two matches be decided by more than one goal or to score as many goals as Argentina in both one-goal victories. If they score more than Argentina, Iran would be through; if it's equal to Argentina's score, it goes to a drawing of lots.

     

    Bosnia and Herzegovina 

    The much-fancied European side was eliminated from the World Cup in their controversial loss to Nigeria.

     

    Analysis

    Argentina have so much talent at its disposal that it's hard to see them doing anything but finding a way to defeat Nigeria.

    That takes the Nigerians' fate out of their own hands and makes them have to depend on a favorable result in the other match.

    Luckily, Bosnia and Herzegovina are a very good side and will be looking to prove that it was poor refereeing that forced them out of this tournament.

    Iran showed some grit against Argentina, but I expect Bosnia and Herzegovina to find a way past them.

     

    Prediction

    Argentina 2-0 Nigeria

    Iran 1-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina

    Argentina win the group; Nigeria advance in second; Iran eliminated

Group G

8 of 9

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Table

      WLDGFGAGDPts
    Germany10162+44
    USA10143+14
    Ghana01134-11
    PortugalPortugal01126-41

     

    Remaining Matches

    Germany vs. USA

    Portugal vs. Ghana

     

    Possible Outcomes for Each Nation

    Germany

    After hammering Portugal and scraping a draw with Ghana, Germany control their own destiny heading into the match of the group. Anything other than a loss against Team USA will guarantee that the Germans finish atop the group and head into the round of 16 as massive favorites.

    A loss to Team USA, though, opens the door to a possible elimination, as the winner of the Ghana-Portugal match would only have to make up the goal difference. Then again, Germany has quite a lead in that category, too.

     

    Team USA

    Just like Germany, Team USA only needs a draw to advance to the round of 16. For the Americans, though, a win would see them win the group while a draw would see them finish runners-up. Again like Germany, however, the United States could be eliminated with a loss. 

    A loss to Germany and a Ghanaian win over Portugal where one of the two ends with a win of two or more goals would vault Ghana into the round of 16 over Team USA, while both of them finishing with a one-goal difference and Ghana scoring more goals than Germany in their respective final matches would do the same. 

    Meanwhile, a Team USA loss and a Portugal win over Ghana where the two matches' differentials add up to six or more would let Portugal finish as runners-up over the United States, while if they add up to five and Portugal scores three or more goals than Team USA in their respective matches would do the same.

    Even worse, if the United States loses, Portugal wins, the differences add up to five and Portugal scores two more goals than Team USA (i.e., Portugal 2-0 Ghana and Germany 3-0 USA), then the two teams will draw lots to determine the group runners-up.

    Any other scenario with Team USA loss will see the United States advance as runners-up.

     

    Ghana

    The Ghanaians need a win to stay alive in the World Cup. If they get the win over Portugal, then they need to hope that Team USA and Germany do not draw. What's more, they need to make up the goal difference over the loser of that match.

    If Germany were to lose to the United States, Ghana would advance if the matches were decided by a combined six or more goals. If they were decided by five, Ghana would advance if they scored at least four more goals than Germany in their respective matches; if they scored exactly three more goals than Germany, then it would be determined by drawing lots.

    If Team USA were to lose to Germany, then Ghana would advance if either of the two matches were decided by more than one goal. If both were decided by one goal exactly, then Ghana would only advance if they scored more goals than Germany in their respective matches.

    All other scenarios with Ghana winning would see them eliminated.

     

    Portugal

    Portugal is still really up against it, despite the late heroics against Team USA. The Portuguese will need to defeat Ghana and have the United States-Germany match not end in a draw to have any hope of advancing.

    If Germany were to lose to Team USA, Portugal would advance as runners-up if the final two matches were decided by a combined nine or more goals. If the matches are decided by a combined eight goals, Portugal would advance only if they scored at least five more goals than Germany in their respective matches.

    If the United States were to lose to Germany, Portugal would advance as runners-up if the final two matches were decided by a combined six or more goals. If the matches are decided by a combined five goals, Portugal would advance if they scored at least three more goals than Team USA in their respective matches.

    If Portugal, instead, scores exactly two more goals than the United States, then the two nations will draw lots to determine who advances from the group.

     

    Analysis

    Most of the goal-differential possibilities in this group are unrealistic because of Portugal's 4-0 loss to Germany.

    The only one that seems realistic is Ghana over Team USA, and Portugal's poor play should give the Ghanaians hope that they can pull it off.

    However, Portugal will be riding an emotional high after salvaging their World Cup dreams at the death and will take the match with Ghana.

    The talented Germans should handle the United States, but it's doubtful that the scorelines will work in Portugal's favor.

     

    Prediction

    Germany 3-1 USA

    Ghana 2-4 Portugal

    Germany win the group; Team USA advance in second; Portugal and Ghana eliminated

Group H

9 of 9

    Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

    Table

      WLDGFGAGDPts
    Belgium20031+26
    Algeria11043+13
    Russia01112-11
    South Korea01135-21

     

    Remaining Matches

    Belgium vs. South Korea

    Algeria vs. Russia

     

    Possible Outcomes for Each Nation

    Belgium

    Belgium has already clinched a place in one of the top two spots in the group and will be headed to the round of 16. Unless Belgium loses to South Korea and Algeria defeat Russia, the European dark horses will finish at the top of the group; if that does happen, they will finish second to Algeria.

     

    Algeria 

    Algeria has given themselves a great opportunity to progress through the group with two spirited performances in losing to Belgium and defeating South Korea. 

    A win against Russia would guarantee the Africans a spot in the round of 16, while a Belgium loss would actually enable them to finish at the top of the group.

    A loss to Russia, however, would eliminate them from the competition.

    Finally, a draw would see Algeria finish runners-up, unless South Korea can defeat Belgium by at least three goals.

     

    Russia 

    The Russians must defeat Algeria to have any hope of advancing to the next round. If they do win, they will need to hope South Korea don't also defeat Belgium and by more goals than what Russia scores in defeating Algeria. Otherwise, Russia will be through as group runners-up.

     

    South Korea

    The South Koreans look to be in the worst shape of any nation in this group. To start, they must defeat Belgium to have any hope of advancing to the next round. Then, they need either Algeria and Russia to draw or Russia to defeat Algeria. Finally, the South Korea will need to win by enough goals to overcome the disadvantage they currently have in goal difference.

    If all of that happens, then they finish as runners-up; otherwise, they are eliminated.

     

    Analysis

    Belgium haven't been all that impressive just yet, but their talent is so great that they should yield any South Korean hopes moot.

    That leaves just Algeria and Russia fighting for one spot in the round of 16.

    While Algeria has been one of the most surprising packages in this tournament, Russia should be able to handle them in their final group match to advance.

    Then again, Russia has been known to underachieve over the past decade.

     

    Prediction

    Belgium 2-0 South Korea

    Algeria 1-2 Russia

    Belgium win the group; Russia advance in second; Algeria and South Korea eliminated.

     


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