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Purpose distinction or head-to-head? How are the World Cup teams determined?

The primary spherical of World Cup group stage fixtures are behind us and the mouth-watering prospect of the knockouts is edging ever nearer.

Regardless of having a number of video games nonetheless to be performed in each group, it has develop into clear which groups are prone to cruise into the final 16 and which groups nonetheless have all of it to do.

For the latter, it’s usually a case of needing different outcomes to go their approach in addition to coping with their very own enterprise.

There’ll, virtually definitely, be a number of groups that end the group stage on the identical quantity of factors as their opponents which begs the query: Is objective distinction the deciding issue or does head-to-head file take priority?

The Athletic explains the way it all works beneath.

Will objective distinction or head-to-head be used to separate groups on the identical quantity of factors?

Given there are solely three video games for every staff within the group stage, there’s a nice chance that a few of the groups in additional than one of many teams will end on equal factors.

In Russia 4 years in the past, there have been three teams the place that was the case whereas two teams had the identical difficulty in Brazil in 2014.

Within the first occasion, groups who’ve the identical quantity of factors after the three matches might be separated, firstly, by objective distinction. The staff with the higher objective distinction will end above the teamer with the lesser objective distinction. Good and simple.

If the objective distinction is identical for each groups, targets scored is the deciding issue. The staff that has scored extra targets within the three video games will end increased than the staff who has scored fewer. Once more, good and simple.

Then, will groups’ head-to-head information be used?

Sure. If each objective distinction and targets scored is identical, which wouldn’t be completely stunning, then head-to-head file makes the choice.

Given there are solely three video games, there may be each likelihood that the staff tied on factors performed out a draw of their assembly in order that too may fail to separate the groups.

Nonetheless, if it was three groups tied on factors somewhat than two, that would definitely assist.

If the three groups couldn’t be separated purely on factors within the matches performed in opposition to one another then objective distinction from the video games performed between the tied groups could be the deciding issue.

I’ll give an instance as I’m conscious that that is beginning to get fairly complicated; if Senegal, Ecuador and the Netherlands have been to all end on six factors in Group A, the group would primarily develop into a three-team group. The outcomes in opposition to Qatar — who could be eradicated with zero factors on this occasion — could be discounted.

Then, objective distinction (after which targets scored if nonetheless tied) from the matches involving solely the three tied groups would resolve which two groups progress to the final 16.

What’s the subsequent decider for tied groups?

If qualification nonetheless has not been determined after a have a look at the head-to-head information, truthful play comes into the equation and the extra disciplined staff — the staff with fewer self-discipline factors — would progress.

The factors are calculated as follows:

  • Yellow card – One level
  • Oblique purple card (two yellow playing cards) – Three factors
  • Direct purple card – 4 factors
  • Yellow card then direct purple card – 5 factors

If groups nonetheless can’t be separated after truthful play factors, drawing of heaps is the one remaining choice. That might deliver quite a few questions from supporters if that have been to be the defining issue however, given the plethora of options earlier than that, there’ll absolutely be no less than one higher solution to decide a winner.

(Photograph: Federico Gambarini/image alliance by way of Getty Photographs)

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