World Cup Group Phase: Your Guide to the Permutations (part 2)

2 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   June 23, 2010  |     9
Two more interesting groups play to a finish today – not only can all eight teams still qualify but all of them still have their fate still in their own hands. Albeit, only just in Australia’s case. A reminder again that the order of splitting teams is points, goal difference, goals scored, head-to-head records, then drawing of lots.

Group C

Slovenia    2 1 1 0 3 2 +1 4
USA         2 0 2 0 3 3  0 2
England     2 0 2 0 1 1  0 2
Algeria     2 0 1 1 0 1 -1 1

Remaining games (Wed, 3pm): Slovenia v England, USA v Algeria

This is probably the one you’re already well-clued up on. In most combinations of results, the last two games come down to two straight play-offs, with one team from each game going through, though there are a couple of caveats that make it possible for both England and Slovenia to progress. If England win then Slovenia can still go through if the other game is drawn – or if Slovenia lose by a single goal while the other game sees Algeria win by the same margin and without a sackful of goals to catch them up on goals scored. It’s even just about possible to see England go through with a draw, if it’s at least 3-3 and the other game is 0-0 (2-2 and 0-0, or 3-3 and 1-1 etc, would have England and the USA facing the drawing of lots). Both sides will assume none of that is likely – essentially, England need to win and Slovenia need to draw and the other place will likely go to whoever can win the other game.

Any win will put the USA through, while for Algeria a two goal win would guarantee it, if they win by a single goal it’ll be enough with the single exception of a one goal win for England in the other game, in which case they’d be squeezed out at Slovenia’s expense as in the previous paragraph. The USA will still go through with a draw if England don’t win or get that very high-scoring draw. Again, however, they will have to assume England can win and so both ties tonight will effectively be treated as cup-ties – with only Slovenia having the luxury of being able to afford a draw.

As for who wins the group, Slovenia are the only ones who have it in their own hands, should they win. If they draw USA might catch them on five points, and any goal difference swing greater than the minimum two would put USA ahead; while if England win they will top the group unless the USA win and by at least the same margin.

Drawing of lots potential: Distinctly plausible. The USA could tie for first place with either England or Slovenia – the latter is more likely given the results required – but that would only need the lots to determine placings in the next round. The tie the rest of the world wants to see, England and the Americans for second / third place, is less likely but if goals start flying in at both ends of the England game while the other one is quiet then it’ll come very much into the reckoning.

Group D

Ghana       2 1 1 0 2 1 +1 4
Germany     2 1 0 1 4 1 +3 3
Serbia      2 1 0 1 1 1  0 3
Australia   2 0 1 1 1 5 -4 1

Remaining games (Wed, 7:30pm): Ghana v Germany, Australia v Serbia

Well I did say every team had their fate in their own hands: in Australia’s case, while any win might be enough, they need to beat Serbia by eight goals to make it a sure thing. Good luck.

Actually the situation is quite similar to the previous group, the middle teams having three points rather than two makes some difference, but again both ties have to be treated as straight knock-outs. Ghana only need a draw but the Germans need to win to be sure. A defeat would leave Germany no comebacks – this is the best scenario for the other two teams as any win for Australia would then see them through, while Serbia would only need a draw. If Germany draw they’ll be left sweating on the other result – a Serbian win would dump them out, but they would survive on goal difference if there’s a draw or if Australia win by anything short of those eight goals.

If Germany win, however, it’s Ghana who are left to rely on the other game. Again, a Serbian win would put them out, as would a draw this time if Ghana have lost by two or more goals – if they’ve only lost by one goal Serbia would need a high-scoring draw to overcome both goals scored and their defeat to Ghana in the head-to-head. Australia, this time, would only need to win by five – or at least, to have an overall goal difference swing of six. (If it’s five it comes down to goals scored again.)

Ghana will win the group if they win, and might if they draw though Serbia could top them with a win. Germany will be group winners with any win unless Serbia can win by upwards of four goals.

Drawing of lots potential: Slim, but possible to decide second between Australia and Ghana if they win and lose respectively with that goal difference swing of five. As in Group A yesterday, the most likely (or least unlikely) scenario is each team replicating the results of the other against the same teams – so Ghana losing 4-0 and Australia winning 1-0 would do it.



Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • June 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm


    Best explanation I’ve seen online. Some very lazy journalism elsewhere, and I’ve seen Slovenia referred to as Slovakia several times on the BBC website. V. poor.

    England will have to win, I can’t see the USA not beating Algeria – indeed I see them winning by more than England, and England therefore coming second. However, it’s not beyond Ghana to get a draw, so second may not be the end of the world – Serbia will beat Australia, so it would be England v Serbia 2nd round.

    A draw won’t be good enough for England, but on the basis that it could be, it would need to be a high-scoring one. With Slovenia surely playing for a draw and therefore defensively, this is unlikely. Any breakthrough will probably not come until the 2nd half (if at all). I can see Crouch getting on, as Rooney & Defoe will not work (hasn’t thus far), but I hope Fab gives him more than 10 minutes if he needs a goal. If it’s 0-0 at 60 mins (and I fear it may be), Cole and Crouch to come on.

    Now I’ve written all that, England will go and score early, and rack up 3 or 4. I do hope so.

  • June 23, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    algeria da best

    i could never see England winning with lots of goals they are just not too good enough. I could see Algeria winning America but they are much fitter and stronger while the Algerians are more skillful. Germany can win and so can Ghana, the Australlians can do a surprise just like Switzerland did against spain. But Serbia are more likely to win

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