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2022 World Cup Clinching Scenarios for the Knockout Rounds

What do the top teams in the 2022 World Cup field have to do to clinch a spot in the Round of 16? You have questions, Boardroom has answers.

There are few things quite like the third and final match day of 2022 World Cup group stage games. You have all four teams in each group playing at the same time, with live look-ins, split screens, and live standings making it must-watch TV for any fan of soccer (or drama in general.) Every chance, goal, penalty, and booking could completely change a group’s dynamic, sending one nation through and another home in the most exhilarating or heartbreaking fashion.

Your mileage may vary.

Now, before we get to what could happen, let’s address what’s already set in stone.

France (Group D), Brazil (Group G), and Portugal (Group H) won their first two group stage matches and have already clinched spots in the round of 16. Qatar (Group A) and Canada (Group F) lost their first two group stage matches and are already mathematically eliminated from the knockouts.

For the other 28 teams in the field, here are the World Cup clinching scenarios for joining Brazil, France, and Portugal in the Round of 16.

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Group A

  • The Netherlands have four points, a +2 goal differential, and three goals scored
  • Ecuador have four points, a +2 goal differential, and three goals scored
  • Senegal have three points, an even goal differential, and three goals scored
  • Qatar have 0 points, a -4 goal differential, and one goal scored. They have been mathematically eliminated.

NETHERLANDS: Will advance with a win or draw against Qatar on Tuesday. Will need a larger goal differential to win Group A outright if Ecuador beat Senegal.

ECUADOR: Will advance with a win or draw against Senegal on Tuesday. Will need a larger goal differential to win Group A outright if the Netherlands beat Qatar.

SENEGAL: Will advance with a win over Ecuador on Tuesday.

Will be eliminated with a loss. With a draw, would need Qatar to beat the Netherlands and a better goal differential. Could also win the group with a win and a Netherlands draw or loss.

Group B

  • England have four points, a +4 goal differential, and six goals scored
  • Iran have three points, a -2 goal differential, and four goals scored
  • The USA have two points, an even goal differential, and one goal scored
  • Wales have one point, a -2 goal differential, and one goal scored

ENGLAND: Will advance with a win or a draw against Wales on Tuesday.

Will win the group with a win, a draw and a USA-Iran draw, or a loss and a USA-Iran draw unless they lose and finish with a better goal differential than Iran.

IRAN: Will advance win a win over the USA on Tuesday or a draw and an England win over Wales.

Will win the group with a win and an England loss or draw.

Will be eliminated with a loss.

USA: As we described in more detail separately, will advance with a win over Iran on Tuesday.

Will win the group with a win and an England loss OR a win, an England draw, and a win over Iran by enough goals to have a better goal differential than England.

Will be eliminated with a loss or draw.

WALES: Will advance with a win over England AND a USA-Iran draw.

Will be eliminated with a loss or draw.

Group C

  • Poland have four points, a +2 goal differential, and two goals scored
  • Argentina have three points, a +1 goal differential, and three goals scored
  • Saudi Arabia have three points, a -1 goal differential, and two goals scored
  • Mexico have one point, a -2 goal differential, and 0 goals scored

POLAND: Will advance with a win or draw against Argentina on Wednesday OR a loss and a Saudi Arabia-Mexico draw if they finish with a better goal differential than Argentina or Saudi Arabia. Will be eliminated with a loss and a Saudi Arabia win over Mexico.

ARGENTINA: Will advance with a win over Poland on Wednesday OR a draw and a Saudi Arabia-Mexico draw OR a draw and a Mexico win over Saudi Arabia by three goals or fewer. Additional tiebreakers would come in if Argentina drew and Mexico beat Saudi Arabia by three. Argentina wins Group C with a win over Poland AND either a Mexico win over Saudi Arabia OR a Saudi Arabia win over Mexico where Argentina finish with a better goal differential than Saudi Arabia. Will be eliminated with a loss OR a draw AND a Saudi Arabia win OR Mexico defeating Saudi Arabia where Mexico finish with a better goal differential.

SAUDI ARABIA: Will advance with a win over Mexico on Wednesday OR with a draw AND a Poland win over Argentina OR a draw AND an Argentina win over Poland where Saudi Arabia have a better goal differential than Poland. Will win the group with a win AND a Poland-Argentina draw OR a win AND an Argentina win over Poland where Saudi Arabia have a better goal differential than Argentina. Will be eliminated with a loss OR a draw AND a Poland-Argentina draw OR a draw AND an Argentina win over Poland if Poland finish with a better goal differential.

MEXICO: Will advance with a win over Saudi Arabia on Wednesday AND a Poland win over Argentina OR a win over Saudi Arabia AND a Poland-Argentina draw where Mexico finish with a better goal differential than Argentina OR a win AND an Argentina win over Poland if Mexico finish with a better goal differential than Poland. Will be eliminated with a loss or draw.

Group D

  • France have 6 points, a +4 goal differential, and six goals scored. They have already advanced to the round of 16.
  • Australia have 3 points, a -2 goal differential, and two goals scored.
  • Denmark have 1 point, a -1 goal differential, and one goal scored.
  • Tunisia have 1 point, a -1 goal differential, and no goals scored.

FRANCE: Will win the group with a win or draw Wednesday against Tunisia.

Will win the group with a loss AND an Australia loss or draw against Denmark OR a loss AND an Australia win where France finished with a better goal differential.

AUSTRALIA: Will advance with a win Wednesday against Denmark OR a draw AND a France-Tunisia draw.

Will win the group with a win AND a France loss where Australia have a better goal differential.

Will be eliminated with a loss.

DENMARK: Will advance with a win Wednesday against Australia AND a France win over Tunisia OR a win AND a France-Tunisia draw. If Denmark and Tunisia both win; whoever has the best goal differential advances. If they have the same goal differential, whichever team scored the most goals advances. If that number is the same, then whoever had the fewest accumulation of yellow and red cards advances.

Will be eliminated with a loss or draw.

TUNISIA: Will advance with a win Wednesday against France AND an Australia-Denmark draw. If Denmark and Tunisia both win; whoever has the best goal differential advances. If they have the same goal differential, whichever team scored the most goals advances. If that number is the same, then whoever had the fewest accumulation of yellow and red cards advances.

Will be eliminated with a loss or draw.

Group E

  • Spain have four points, a +7 goal differential, and eight goals scored
  • Japan have three points, an even goal differential, and two goals scored
  • Costa Rica have three points, a -6 goal differential, and one goal scored
  • Germany have one point, a -1 goal differential, and two goals scored

SPAIN: Will advance with a win or draw Thursday against Japan. Will advance with a loss AND a Costa Rica-Germany draw OR a loss AND a Germany win where Spain finish with a better goal differential.

Will win the group with a win OR a draw AND a Germany win over Costa Rica OR a draw AND a Germany-Costa Rica draw OR a loss AND a Costa Rica-Germany draw.

Will be eliminated with a loss AND a Costa Rica win over Germany.

JAPAN: Will advance with a win over Spain on Thursday. Will advance with a draw AND a Costa Rica loss OR draw OR a Germany win over Costa Rica where Japan have a better goal differential.

Will win the group with a win AND a Costa Rica loss or draw OR a win AND a Costa Rica win where Japan have a better goal differential.

Will be eliminated with a loss OR a draw AND a Costa Rica win OR a draw AND a Germany win where it have a worse goal differential.

COSTA RICA: Will advance with a win over Germany on Thursday. Will also advance with a draw AND a Spain win over Japan.

Will win the group with a win AND a Spain-Japan draw.

Will be eliminated with a loss OR a draw and a Spain-Japan draw OR a draw AND a Japan win over Spain.

GERMANY: Will advance with a win over Costa Rica AND a Spain win over Japan OR a win AND a Spain-Japan draw where Germany finish with a better goal differential than Japan; if goal differential is the same, Germany needs to finish with more goals scored. If Germany wins and Japan beats Spain, Germany have to finish with a better goal differential than Spain.

Will be eliminated with a loss or draw.

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Group F

  • Croatia have four points, a +3 goal differential, and four goals scored
  • Morocco have four points, a +2 goal differential, and two goals scored
  • Belgium have three points, a -1 goal differential, and one goal scored
  • Canada have zero points, a -4 goal differential, and one scored. They have been mathematically eliminated.

CROATIA: Will advance with a win or a draw Thursday against Belgium. Will also advance with a loss AND a Canada win where Croatia have a better goal differential than Morocco.

Will win the group with a win OR a draw AND a Morocco-Canada draw OR a loss AND a Canada win where Croatia have a better goal differential than Morocco.

Will be eliminated with a loss AND a Morocco win or draw.

MOROCCO: Will advance with a win or a draw Thursday against Canada. Will also advance with a loss AND a Croatia win over Belgium OR a loss AND a Belgium win where Morocco have a better goal differential than Croatia; if goal differential is the same, Morocco needs to finish with more goals scored.

Will win the group with a win AND a Croatia loss or daw OR a win and a Croatia win where Morocco have a better goal differential than Croatia.

Will be eliminated with a loss AND a Belgium win over Croatia where Morocco have a worse goal differential than Croatia.

BELGIUM: Will advance with a win Thursday against Croatia OR a draw AND a Morocco loss to Canada where Belgium have a better goal differential than Morocco.

Will win the group with a win AND a Morocco draw or loss.

Will be eliminated with a loss OR a draw AND a Morocco draw OR a draw AND a Morocco loss where Belgium finish with a worse goal differential than Morocco.

Group G

  • Brazil have six points, a +3 goal differential, and three goals scored. It has already advanced to the round of 16.
  • Switzerland have three points, an even goal differential, and one goal scored.
  • Cameroon have one point, a -1 goal differential, and three goals scored.
  • Serbia have one point, a -2 goal differential, and three goals scored.

BRAZIL: Will win the group with a win or a draw Friday against Cameroon.

Will win the group with a loss AND a Switzerland loss or draw against Serbia OR a loss AND a Switzerland win where Brazil finish with a better goal differential.

SWITZERLAND: Will advance with a win Friday against Serbia. Will also advance with a draw AND a Brazil win over Cameroon OR a draw AND a Brazil-Cameroon draw.

Will win the group with a win AND a Brazil loss where Switzerland finish with a better goal differential.

Will be eliminated with a loss OR a draw AND a Cameroon win where they finish with a worse goal differential or the same differential and fewer goals scored.

CAMEROON: Will advance with a win Friday against Brazil AND a Switzerland draw where Cameroon have a better goal differential OR a win AND a Serbia win where Cameroon have a better goal differential.

Will be eliminated with a loss or draw OR a win AND a Switzerland win.

SERBIA: Will advance with a win Friday against Switzerland AND a Cameroon loss to Brazil OR a win AND a Brazil-Cameroon draw OR a win AND a Cameroon win where Serbia have a better goal differential.

Will be eliminated with a loss or draw OR a win AND a Cameroon win where they finish with a worse goal differential.

Group H

  • Portugal have six points, a +3 goal differential, and five goals scored. They have advanced to the round of 16.
  • Ghana have three points, an even goal differential, and five goals scored
  • South Korea have one point, a -1 goal differential, and two goals scored
  • Uruguay have one point, a -2 goal differential, and 0 goals scored

PORTUGAL: Will win the group with a win or a draw Friday against South Korea. Will win the group with a loss AND a Ghana win over Uruguay if Portugal finish with a better goal differential OR a loss and a Ghana loss or draw.

GHANA: Will advance with a win Friday against Uruguay. Will advance with a draw AND a Portugal win over South Korea OR a draw AND a Portugal-South Korea draw.

Will win the group with a win AND a Portugal loss where Ghana finish with a better goal differential.

Will be eliminated with a loss OR a draw AND a South Korea win where they finish with a worse goal differential or the same differential and fewer goals scored.

SOUTH KOREA: Will advance with a win Friday against Portugal AND a Ghana draw where South Korea have a better goal differential OR a win AND a Uruguay win, where South Korea have a better goal differential.

Will be eliminated with a loss or draw OR a win AND a Ghana win.

URUGUAY: Will advance with a win Friday against Ghana AND a South Korea loss to Portugal OR a win AND a Portugal-South Korea draw OR a win AND a South Korea win where Uruguay have a better goal differential.

Will be eliminated with a loss or draw OR a win AND a South Korea win where they finish with a worse goal differential.

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