As the matches continue to roll in, the 2022 World Cup group stage will be over before we know it. In fact, after Senegal’s 3-1 victory over Qatar – who became the first hosts to be knocked out of the World Cup after two games – we are one third out of the 48 fixtures that make up the first round of the tournament.
It is therefore impossible not to consider the different permutations… Who will pass? What must Team X and Team Y do to succeed?
Of course, as everyone knows, the easiest way to book your place in the last 16 is to win all of your group matches – but it goes without saying that only one team per group can do that, there therefore still has a good chance that a tiebreaker will come into play.
What are the 2022 World Cup group stage tiebreakers?
If two (or, unlikely as it is, more) teams complete the group stage level with points, the first way to separate them is by good old-fashioned goal difference (over their respective three group games ); tracking of goals scored.
Failing the above, the same tiebreakers are applied but head-to-head (i.e. in matches between the teams in question). And failing this, this is a fair play record: each team starts with zero points and loses one point for each yellow card; three points for each red card for two bookings; four points for each consecutive red card; and five points if a player somehow manages to be warned and direct red card in the group stage. Senegal were eliminated by this method in Russia four years ago, losing to Japan by two fair play points.
things should still to be deadlocked, however, there is only one thing for that: the coin toss to see who advances. Unsurprisingly, this has rarely happened at a World Cup – the last time in Italia ’90, when they were needed to separate the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland (but only to decide who progressed in which position, as these finals saw a third-ranked finishers advance to the knockout stage).