With one match left for each team in group play at the World Cup, just two of the eight groups have been decided, and even those could come down to tiebreakers to determine who gets the stronger seed in the knockout stage.
If two or more teams wind up tied on points, here’s the tie-breaker system:
• best goal differential;
• most goals scored;
• points from head-to-head games between the teams involved;
• if more than two teams are tied, best goal differential from matches between the teams involved;
• most goals scored in all matches between the teams concerned;
• fewest points deducted based on yellow and red cards received in all group matches, as follows: a 1-point deduction for a yellow card, a 3-point deduction for a red card issued as a result of a second yellow, a 4-point deduction for a straight red, and a 5-point deduction for a straight red issued after a yellow card.
• drawing of lots by FIFA.
The only time FIFA has ever drawn lots to break a tie in a group was at the 1990 edition in Italy, when Ireland and the Netherlands tied for second place in their group. The Netherlands wound up third, but both teams had already advanced under the 24-team format in place at the time.
Who’s in, who’s out and possible scenarios at the World Cup:
Russia won the group with nine points. Russia finished second with six points. Both teams advanced to the next round. Saudi Arabia (three points) and Egypt (zero points) have been eliminated.
Spain and Portugal finished with five points apiece, but Spain won the group as they scored more goals. Both teams advanced to the next round. Iran (four points) and Morocco (one point) have been eliminated.
France won the group with seven points. Denmark finished second with five points. Both teams advanced to the next round. Peru (three points) and Australia (one point) have been eliminated.
Croatia won the group with nine points. Argentina finished second with four points. Both teams advanced to the next round. Nigeria (three points) and Iceland (one point) have been eliminated.
Brazil and Switzerland have four points apiece, Serbia has three, and any of them could grab one of the group’s two spots in the knockout stage. Serbia meets Brazil on Wednesday, likely needing a win. Switzerland plays Costa Rica at the same time. Costa Rica has been eliminated.
Sweden and Mexico finished with six points apiece, but Sweden won the group as they had a better goal difference. Both teams advanced to the next round. South Korea and Germany (three points apiece) have been eliminated.
Belgium and England moved to the second round emphatically — Belgium with a 5-2 drubbing of Tunisia and England with a 6-1 thrashing of Panama. They play each other on Thursday to determine who wins the group. Tunisia and Panama have been eliminated.
Japan and Senegal lead the group with four points apiece after their 2-2 draw on Sunday. Colombia beat Poland 3-0 to keep it in the running for a spot in the knockout round. Poland was eliminated.