From goals scored to yellow cards: what are the play-offs in the World Cup group stage?

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At the start of the third and final date of the group stage of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, several teams have started using the calculator. Players, fans, coaching staff, journalists…

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What would happen in case of equal points?

FIFA has decided to ratify the play-off criteria based on a declaration. The organization had announced months ago the system used for disparity in case of equal points, but before the new scenario they communicated it again.

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First of all, the publication points out: “Equal points and standings for the knockout stage: “If two or more teams from the same group score the same number of points after completing the group stage, the following criteria will be applied, in the order listed, to determine their position”and then, start listing the seven criteria that will come into play should two teams share the same position at the end of this third round.

Firstly, it should be noted that in the event that two teams obtain the same number of points at the end of all matches in the group, the criterion of the ‘greatest goal difference in all matches in the group’ will appear. From it, and in the event of a tie between two or more teams, the goal difference will be taken into account to determine which team will win the classification.

But, with just three games played during the group stage, level points and goal difference are more than likely to persist. In this case the second tiebreaker criterion would be evaluated: that of “highest number of goals scored in all group matches”; which would provide a goal-based ranking in favor of each team, taking into account all matches played.

Even so, there could be more than one World Cup group that would remain undefined. Contemplating this possibility, FIFA proposes a second step, and reveals the following: “If two or more teams obtain the same result according to the three criteria mentioned above, their positions will be determined on the basis of another five criteria”. These last four tiebreaker methods begin to pose less realistic scenarios.

The first, for example, conceives the tie-break based on the ‘highest number of points obtained in group matches played between the teams in question’. Under this criterion, the team that would advance to the group in the event of a tie on points, would be the one that achieved a favorable result in the match played between the selected teams in question.

But if the tie persists even between more than two teams, the ‘highest goal difference in group matches played between the teams in question’ would be assessed. This means that, if there are more than two teams in a group that accumulate the same results in matches played against each other, the team with the better goal difference in these specific matches will advance to the group. In the event that parity persists, the aims in favor of these commitments would be enhanced.

Another of the criteria that FIFA raises has to do with none other than fair play, a method that was already used in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In that edition Japan and Senegal were equal in all the aforementioned criteria, but the Asians advanced to the round of 16 thanks to this particular criterion which favors the one who obtains “the most points obtained for sportsmanship based on the number of yellow cards and obtained reds’.

This points system includes the following values: yellow cards, which deduct one point; red cards following two yellow cards, which subtract three points; direct red cards, which subtract no less than four points; and yellow cards accompanied by a subsequent direct red, which subtracted five points. By this count, Japan has fallen behind Senegal, and the same criteria could be used in Qatar.

Referring to the latter system, FIFA clarifies: “Only one of the aforementioned deductions will be applied to each player per match. The team with the most points will obtain the highest position in the table”. And finally, the scenario of equality in terms of fair play is raised, which would be uneven “By draw carried out by FIFA”. This unusual method would classify a player selected for the round of 16 as nothing less than a ball, as if it were a swimming pool. The truth is that to date this criterion has never been used in a World Cup.

Source: Clarin

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