FIFA World Cup, Group A: Tiebreaker rules if teams end with same points

Here are the various scenarios in which two teams in Group A finish with same points and how tiebreaker rules separate them.

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal with players before the final Group A match against Qatar at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor on Tuesday.

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal with players before the final Group A match against Qatar at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Here are the various scenarios in which two teams in Group A finish with same points and how tiebreaker rules separate them.

Three teams - Netherlands, Ecuador and Senegal - are competing two round of 16 spots, going into the final round of fixtures in Group A at the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday.

While the Dutch side faces already-eliminated host nation, Ecuador plays Senegal with both matches being held at the same time.

READ: FIFA World Cup tiebreakers: What happens if teams finish with same points during group stage of Qatar 2022

As things stand, Netherlands and Ecuador are both on four points after two matches and need only a point each to confirm a spot in the knockout round. However, Senegal could also go through to the next round with just a draw.

Here are the various scenarios in which two teams in Group A finish with same points and how tiebreaker rules separate them:-

What happens if Netherlands and Ecuador both win or draw their final group stage matches?

In such case, both teams will have seven or five points and qualify for the round of 16. However, group topper will be decided according to the following tiebreaker criteria, in the order below:

  • ⦿ superior goal difference
  • ⦿ greatest number of goals scored
  • ⦿ Head-to-head record
  • ⦿ If the two teams are not separated even after the above criteria are applied, then the fair play criterion comes into play, according to which, team with the highest conduct score relating to the number of yellow and red cards obtained goes through to the next round where:-

Only one of the above deductions shall be applied to a player in a single match. The team with the highest number of points shall be ranked highest.”

The fair play tiebreaker was used for the first time during the 2018 World Cup where Senegal and Japan in Group H were tied for second behind Colombia on points, goal difference, goals scored, and had played a 2-2 draw between them. However, Senegal had received two yellow cards more than Japan and therefore, Japan progressed to the round of 16.

  • ⦿ The last and final tiebreaker criterion is drawing of lots by FIFA.

What happens if Netherlands and Ecuador both lose their final group stage matches?

In such case, both teams will have four points and only one will qualify for the round of 16 since Senegal will be the group topper with six points. The second team between Netherlands and Ecuador. which will qualify for the knockouts, will again be decided on the above mentioned tiebreaker rules.

What happens if Netherlands loses to Qatar and Senegal vs Ecuador ends in a draw?

If Ecuador plays a draw against Senegal and Qatar beats Netherlands, then the Dutch and Senegal will both be on four points. In such case, Ecuador will top the group and the second team between Netherlands and Senegal, which will qualify for the knockouts, will again be decided on the above mentioned tiebreaker rules.

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