World Cup tiebreakers, explained

(CJ Gunther/EPA)

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.

The U.S. national team has a good chance of making it to the round of 16 of the World Cup. It's tied for the lead in Group G with Germany, who it will play next. Both teams have four points. Portugal and Ghana each have one point. Here's how the Americans can advance to the knockout round. (Tom LeGro and Marissa Payne/The Washington Post)


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.

More from the World Cup:

Revisit all of Sunday’s action on the World Cup live blog

U.S. is forced to settled for draw after Portugal’s last-gasp goal

Netherlands, long a World Cup bridesmaid, has high expectations

Belgium gets late goal to beat Russia and advance

Algeria sets African scoring standard in outgunning S. Korea

Thousands of American soccer fans make Brazil feel like home

Isolated Amazon city of Manaus celebrates its World Cup spotlight

In Iran, loss is still cause for celebration

Scores and schedule | Group standings | Stats leaders

After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and the Post's other Web-based products.



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Matt Bonesteel · June 23, 2014

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