Brazil World Cup 2014: Clarifying Tie-Break Rules

With the start of Match Day 3 of the Group Stage of the World Cup, some teams may need a tiebreaker.

FIFA has already set the rules before the start of the World Cup. Here is how teams will be separated in case they end up with equal points after each team plays 3 matches (I was also confused, for some reason, but I will try to re-write them with some explanations):

The ranking of each team in each group shall be determined as follows:

a) greatest number of points obtained in all the group matches;
b) goal difference in the group matches;
c) greatest number of goals scored in the group matches.

If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their ranking will be determined as follows:

d) greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned;
e) goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned;
f) greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned;
g) drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee.


In my explanation, and how it will be done:

  1. The first thing looked at is the goal difference (A simple calculation of each team’s goals scored and conceded is done – the team with the better difference is ranked higher)
  2. Second, and in case goal difference is equal, the number of goals scored in all 3 matches of each team decides who is ranked higher (team with bigger number of goals scored)
  3. Third, and in case two (or more) teams have equal goal difference and the same number of goals scored, the direct encounters of the teams involved decide who is ranked higher (obviously, the team who won over the other is the one with the advantage)
  4. Fourth, and in case all of the above doesn’t work, the goal difference from the matches between the teams involved is the decisive factor (the result of both teams – while overlooking the results against non involved teams – and the calculations are done based on less number of matches in this case)
  5. Fifth, and if all of the above is still confusingly equal, the goals scored of the teams involved – after overlooking the goals scored against the non-involved teams – decide who is ranked higher.
  6. Sixth, if nothing works, a draw by FIFA Organizing Committee is conducted (a simple draw where names are picked versus the rank)

Hope this helps!


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