Here’s how FIFA will break group-stage ties, lifted straight from the organization’s book of regulations.
1. Greatest number of points obtained in all group matches.
2. Goal difference in all group matches.
3. Greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.
4. Greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned.
5. Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned.
6. Greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned.
7. Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee.
No one has ever been eliminated because of that last tiebreaker (in 1990, the Netherlands and Ireland both were assured of advancement into the round of 16, but where they landed was determined by the luck of the draw), but it could happen this year in Group F. Here’s how: If Iran beats Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina beats Nigeria by the same 1-0 score on Wednesday, both Iran and Nigeria would finish with four points, a goal differential of zero and one total goal apiece. The two teams played to a scoreless tie on June 16.
This could also happen to the United States and Portugal, though it’s a long shot. If the United States loses to Germany, 3-0, and Portugal defeats Ghana, 2-0, on Thursday, both teams will have four points, a goal differential of minus-two and four total goals apiece. As we all know, the two teams tied 2-2 on Sunday.
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