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World Cup permutations - Path to the last-16 explained

What each team needs to do in the final round of matches to qualify

Here is how the possible scenarios play out for qualifying for the last 16 of the World Cup from the final group games, which start on Tuesday.

Group A – Ecuador, Netherlands, Qatar, Senegal

Final matches Tuesday 29th December, 3pm Irish time: Netherlands v Qatar, Ecuador v Senegal

Netherlands: Topped the group after victory over Qatar.


Ecuador: Defeat to Senegal has sent them crashing out.

Senegal: Captain Khalidou Koulibaly’s strike handed them a 2-1 victory over Ecuador that booked them a date with England in the last-16.

Qatar: Eliminated after three group stage defeats.

Group B – England, Iran, USA, Wales

Final matches Tuesday 29th December, 7pm Irish time: Wales v England, Iran v USA

England: A comfortable 3-0 victory over Wales saw them progress as group winners.

Wales: Gareth Bale limping off at half-time looked ominous for their chances as they ultimately suffered a hammering that brought to an end a dismal campaign. A 1-1 draw with the USA was all they had to show for their efforts after a demoralising 2-0 defeat to Iran.

Iran: Wales’ defeat to England meant a draw for Iran against the USA would have seen them progress, but they could not find an equaliser and ultimately fell 1-0/

USA: Christian Pulisic’s strike sent them into the last-16 where they will face the Netherlands. The Chelsea man’s winner against Iran came at a cost as he is now being evaluated day-to-day for a pelvic contusion.

Group C – Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

Final matches Wednesday 30th November, 7pm Irish time: Poland v Argentina, Saudi Arabia v Mexico

Poland: Poland qualify with a win or a draw against Argentina. They are not necessarily eliminated if they lose, provided Saudi Arabia don’t beat Mexico.

Argentina: Must beat Poland to be sure of going through. A draw will be enough if Saudi Arabia and Mexico draw, or unless Mexico win that game by four or more goals

Saudi Arabia: Qualify with a win over Mexico. A draw will be enough if Poland beat Argentina.

Mexico: Will qualify if they win and Poland beat Argentina. If Poland and Argentina draw, and Mexico win, it has to be by four goals or more to overhaul Argentina’s goal difference.

Group D – Australia, Denmark, France, Tunisia

Final matches Wednesday 30th November, 3pm Irish time: Australia v Denmark, Tunisia v France

France: Have qualified.

Australia: A win against Denmark puts them through. A draw will be enough, unless Tunisia beat France, in which case the Tunisians would progress instead.

Denmark: A win against Australia puts them through, unless Tunisia beat France, in which case goal difference would decide between Denmark and Tunisia. A draw is no good to Denmark.

Tunisia: Must beat France in an encounter likely to be highly charged by the colonial ties between the two nations. The Tunisians must also hope that Australia v Denmark is drawn. If Tunisia beat France and Denmark beat Australia, then whoever has the superior goal difference between the Danes and Tunisians will progress.

- Guardian