Group-stage play at the World Cup concludes Friday with the Group G and Group H finales.
Group G: United States vs. Germany in Recife, noon (ESPN)
Group G: Portugal vs. Ghana in Brasilia, noon (ESPN2)
Group H: Algeria vs. Russia in Curitiba, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
Group H: South Korea vs. Belgium in Sao Paulo, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Group G standings
Germany 1-0-1, 4 points (plus-4 goal differential)
United States 1-0-1, 4 points (plus-1 goal differential)
Ghana 0-1-1, 1 point (minus-1 goal differential)
Portugal 0-1-1, 1 point (minus-4 goal differential)
Here’s how the United States can advance to the round of 16:
– A win over Germany (United States finishes first in the group, plays the second-place team from Group H on Monday at 4 p.m. in Porto Alegre).
– A draw with Germany (United States finishes second in the group, plays the first-place team from Group H on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Salvador).
– A loss to Germany combined with a Portugal-Ghana draw (United States finishes second in the group, plays the first-place team from Group H on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Salvador).
– A U.S. loss to Germany combined with a win by either Portugal or Ghana would create a two-way tie for second in the group at four points. The United States could still advance under this scenario, depending on tiebreakers. After points accrued, the first tiebreaker is goal differential, then total goals scored. Here’s an explanation of FIFA’s tiebreaking process.
To put it another way, if the United States loses, it really will hope that Portugal defeats Ghana. The United States has a five-goal edge over Portugal in goal differential, which is the tiebreaker that will come into play and will be nearly impossible for Portugal to overcome.
If the United States loses and Ghana wins, things could get dicey. A one-goal U.S. loss combined with a one-goal Ghana win would send the Americans through, because of their head-to-head win over Ghana. But if the United States loses (by any margin) and Ghana wins by two or more goals, Ghana will advance.
Other Group G scenarios
– Germany will advance and win the group with a win or a draw against the United States.
– Ghana will advance with a win over Portugal and a loss by either the United States or Germany, provided it wins the tiebreakers.
– Portugal will advance with a win over Ghana and a loss by either the United States or Germany, provided it wins the tiebreakers. Given its minus-four goal differential (the first tiebreaker), Portugal will need a sizable win over Ghana combined with a blowout win by either the United States or Germany to advance.
Group H standings
Belgium 2-0-0, 6 points (plus-2 goal differential)
Algeria 1-1-0, 3 points (plus-1 goal differential)
Russia 0-1-1, 1 point (minus-1 goal differential)
South Korea 0-1-1, 1 point (minus-2 goal differential)
– Belgium has secured advancement to the knockout round. It will win the group with a win or draw against South Korea, or a loss combined with a loss or draw by Algeria against Russia. It will finish second in the group with a loss combined with an Algeria win over Russia.
– Algeria will advance with a win over Russia, or a draw combined with a Belgium-South Korea draw. It will win the group with a win over Russia combined with a Belgium loss to South Korea. If Algeria ties Russia and South Korea defeats Belgium, the second-place team from the group will come down to tiebreakers, though Algeria is likely to win that tiebreaker because of its sizable goal-differential edge over South Korea.
– Russia will advance with a win over Algeria combined with a Belgium win over South Korea, or a South Korea win that does not eclipse its plus-one edge in goal differential.
– South Korea will advance with a win over Belgium combined with a Russia win over Algeria (if it overtakes Russia on goal-differential tiebreaker) or a Russia tie with Algeria (only if it overtakes Algeria on goal differential).
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