Ties Complicate Group Standings


by Kara McDermott

Possibly the most un-American thing I do is root for ties in group play of World Cups because it makes for such interesting narrative. The teams have not disappointed me this year.

Since in other aspects I am a dutiful American, my favorite tie has been the 3-3 shootout between Sweden and Nigeria, which gave the former — the US’ chief group rival — a good knock.

With only Japan in Group C and Brazil in Group E earning six points off back-to-back wins, the other groups are forced into contentious battles as they head into the final round of group play Monday through Wednesday.

Fans are turning their attention to the goal differential column with more urgency and maybe even keeping a cheat sheet of the deeper tiebreakers for certain groups (goals scored, head-to-head, etc).

Below are the predictions and prayers for first and second advancements out of each group. Keep in mind that the top four of the six third-place finishers will also advance.


The game to watch will be Canada versus Netherlands. The hometown darling currently leads the group after beating China and tying with New Zealand. Another win will guarantee them an important top berth out of group play.

China and the Netherlands are in a dead heat for second: tied in points, goal differential and goals scored. If both games end in same-score ties (e.g. both are 0-0 or 1-1 matches), Canada will advance in the top spot on goal differential and China will advance in second based on their head-to-head record against the Netherlands.

The Kiwis pulled off a heroic tie off of Canada already, but they’ll still need some additional help from the coach-snatching Maple Leafs to advance. Best case scenario for New Zealand is to beat China and root for Canada to beat the Netherlands.

Best Case Scenario

For Canada: advances out of group play in the top berth with a win; or a tie, as long as China does not win. Only a tie or a win guarantees advancement.

For China: advances out of group play in the top berth with a win, as long as Canada does not win. If Canada wins, China will still advance with a win or a tie. Only a win guarantees advancement.

For Netherlands: advances out of group play in the top berth with a win, as long as the other game ties. Only a win guarantees advancement.

For New Zealand: needs to win to contend for advancement. With a win: if Canada also wins, New Zealand will advance second; if Canada ties, NZ will need to win by a margin of two to beat Netherlands on goal differential.

Schedule: Monday, June 15

4:30 PST Netherlands vs. Canada

4:30 PST China vs. New Zealand

Next Games For Advancers

1A will play a third place finisher on Sunday, June 21.

2A will play 2C on Saturday, June 20 , most likely the winner of Switzerland vs. Cameroon match.



Once again, an earlier tie is making this group more contentious than statistical probability would have predicted at the offset. After tying Norway, Germany – the top ranked team in the world – is sitting atop the group based on a massive goal differential they took from a 10-0 win against Cote d’Ivoire.

Both Germany and Norway are likely to get wins on Monday as they play Thailand and Cote d’Ivoire, respectively. If so, it will come down to goal differential, which means unfortunately fans should expect a blood bath for the weaker teams.

Best Case Scenario

For Germany: run up the score on Thailand so that Norway can’t keep up.

For Norway: run up the score on Cote d’Ivoire and hope that Thailand parks the buses on Germany.

For Thailand: a miracle

For Cote d’Ivoire: will not advance, but could help make the frontrunner race interesting.

Schedule: Monday, June 15

1:00 PST Thailand vs. Germany

1:00 PST Cote d’Ivoire vs. Norway

Next Games For Advancers

1B will play a third place finisher on Saturday, June 20.

2B will play 2F on Monday, June 22.



This group is looking pretty tidy. Japan has been playing their signature game of getting a lead and then putting all their energy into defense. They’ll play Ecuador on Tuesday and will likely fall in line with the other opponents by beating them handily.

Switzerland will play Cameroon. The teams are tied in points, but Switzerland has the goal differential so Cameroon will need to win. Cameroon showed some real spunk against Japan, but Switzerland would be the favorite to win.

Best Case Scenario

For Japan: take the easy win and avoid injuries.

For Switzerland: advance second out of group play with win or tie over Cameroon.

For Cameroon: advance second out of group play with win over Switzerland.

For Ecuador: don’t allow any own goals

Schedule: Tuesday, June 16

2:00 PST Ecuador vs. Japan

2:00 PST Switzerland vs. Cameroon

Next Games For Advancers

1C will play a third place finisher on Tuesday, June 23.

2C will play 2A on Saturday, June 20.


GROUP D (as in “death”)

Whatever you are doing Tuesday, get out of it, because Group D will be some of the best World Cup group action. Every team has an opportunity to advance first out of the group.

The Americans will be facing Nigeria at 5:00 PST in Vancouver. A win will guarantee the top berth into the next round, a key advantage considering the second place finisher will have to play Brazil, who has already locked up their spot in Group E.

A tie for the Americans will send the group into a tailspin as it will open up the opportunity for top spot to Australia with a win or Sweden, provided they win by a margin of at least three.

Note that in this group, the US has the best goal differential of two, with Sweden and Australia tied at zero. However, all three teams enter the final group match with the same number of goals scored (the second tiebreaker). If the US loses and the other game ties, three teams will have four points.

All said, the US front line needs to produce.

Best Case Scenario

For USA: advances in top berth with win. Barring a win, they need a scoring tie and will be rooting for Sweden to win by a low margin.

For Australia: advances with a win against Sweden. Can advance in top berth with win and a US tie.

For Sweden: advances with a win. Can advance first with a three-goal margin win and a US tie.

For Nigeria: can advance with a win, but will need to score a lot of goals to make up goal differential.

Schedule: Tuesday, June 16

5:o0 PST Nigeria vs. USA (playing in BC Place, Vancouver)

5:00 PST Australia vs. Sweden

Next Games For Advancers

1D will play a third place finisher on Monday, June 22.

2D will play Brazil on Sunday, June 21.



Brazil has already won the group and can focus on building some momentum and avoiding injuries for the next game against Costa Rica.

It’s a different story for the Ticas. A win for the CONCACAF competitor will ensure advancement without help from the other match. Costa Rica only leads Spain and South Korea by one point, but has a narrow edge in goal differential.

Best Case Scenario

For Brazil: Brazil can’t go wrong, so preserving the roster will be a top priority.

For Costa Rica: advances with a win. Can advance with a tie or a loss only if the other game also ends in a tie.

For Spain: advances with a win, as long as Costa Rica loses to Brazil.

For Korea: advances with a win, as long as Costa Rica loses to Brazil.

Schedule: Wednesday, June 17

4:00 PST Costa Rica vs. Brazil

4:00 PST Korea Republic vs. Spain

Next Games For Advancers

Brazil will play 2D on Sunday, June 21.

2E will play 1F on Sunday, June 21.



Twenty-eighth ranked Colombia pulled off the upset of the tournament, and history actually, by beating third-ranked France 2-0 on Saturday. If I love a tie, imagine the popcorn-snacking entertainment of an upset.

This will be another contentious group as the first round finishes on Wednesday. Low disparity across the board in goal differential and goals scored means advancement could get complicated, particularly in the second place slot.

Mexico will be rooting for Colombia, that will keep them in contention if they can get a solid win off of France.

Best Case Scenario

For Colombia: advances in top berth with a win. Can also advance with top berth with a tie if France ties with Mexico. Guaranteed advancement with a win or tie.

For England: advances in top berth with a win, as long as France does not beat Mexico by a two-goal margin. Win guarantees advancement.

For France: advances with a win. Can contend for top berth if they can get a better goal differential against Mexico and if England ties or beats Colombia by a low goal margin.

For Mexico: advances with a win if Colombia also wins. They’ll need a higher goal differential though in case England wins or ties.

Schedule: Wednesday, June 17

2:00 PST Mexico vs. France

2:00 PST England vs. Colombia

Next Games For Advancers

1F will play 2E on Sunday, June 21.

2F will play 2B on Monday, June 22.


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