Only the first of today’s groups has any sort of possible complications, this evening it’s straightforward. Another reminder, it’s goal difference and goals scored first, then head-to-heads¬†and finally¬†drawing of lots.

Group F

Paraguay     2 1 1 0 3 1 +2 4
Italy        2 0 2 0 2 2  0 2
New Zealand  2 0 2 0 2 2  0 2
Slovakia     2 0 1 1 1 3 -2 1

Remaining games (Thu, 3pm): Slovakia v Italy, Paraguay v New Zealand

I’ve no idea why Group F are playing first but let’s run with it.

For Slovakia it’s straightforward, they can only get through if they win, and by four goals to be sure, though any win will do as long as New Zeland either don’t win or win by enough to allow them to make up their four goal deficit on Paraguay. For Paraguay it’s quite simple too, they need only draw, but even a loss would let them through if the other game is drawn or if Slovakia win but fail to make up the goal difference.

The interesting bit, of course, is the bit in the middle, where Italy and New Zealand currently have identical records – with obvious implications should they get the same results again. For both of them, if they win they’re through, if they lose lose they’re out. It gets more tricky if there are draws. If Italy draw they can still go through if New Zealand lose, but the same is not true in reverse because Slovakia would go through instead. If both teams draw then the team with the higher scoring draw goes through, but if the draws are by the same scoreline then I’m sure you know what that means ….

As far as winning the group goes – it’ll be Paraguay if they win, or if they draw and Italy have any result worse than a two goal win. A three goal win in this case would put Italy top while two goals would take it down to goals scored. If New Zealand win they’ll be top unless Italy also win and with a better scoreline.

Drawing of lots potential: Real chances here, it would have to involve Italy but they could be up against either Paraguay and New Zealand. If Italy win by two and Paraguay have a scoring draw (2-0 and 1-1 would do it) then the two will tie for 1st / 2nd; so would Italy and NZ if they win by the same scoreline. But of course the juiciest possibility is that both games will be drawn with the same score, at which point Italy and New Zealand face lots to decide who goes to the second stage and who goes home – either to a hero’s welcome or to be pelted with tomatoes.

Group E

Holland     2 2 0 0 3 0 +3 6
Japan       2 1 0 1 1 1  0 3
Denmark     2 1 0 1 2 3 -1 3
Cameroon    2 0 0 2 1 3 -2 0

Remaining games (Thu, 7:30pm): Denmark v Japan, Cameroon v Holland

Dead easy this one. Holland are through, Cameroon are out, so their game is a dead rubber. Denmark and Japan have a straight fight for – probably – second place (of course they could nick first by goal difference if Holland lose). Japan have the advantage of only needing a draw while Denmark must win, and there can be no drawing of lots.