By Andrew Cawthorne
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, June 22 (Reuters) - With the final round of games about to start in the World Cup groups, there is plenty to play for and a plethora of permutations for many of the 32 teams competing for glory in Brazil.
Here are the main possibilities based on the latest standings (http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/groups/index.html).
Still at stake: Brazil and Mexico are joint top of the group on four points. They will both qualify if they beat Cameroon and Croatia respectively on Monday.
Brazil are currently first with a superior goal difference but only one more than Mexico, so both Latin American sides will be aspiring to top spot which would reward them with a game against the runners up of Group B on June 28.
If Brazil draw or lose to Cameroon, then Croatia, currently on three points, could still win the group if they beat Mexico. A Croatia-Mexico draw, and Brazil defeat, would see the hosts eliminated on goal difference to Croatia.
Qualified: Netherlands, Chile
Eliminated: Australia, Spain
Still at stake: Having secured maximum points in their first two games, the Netherlands and Chile play each other on Monday looking for a victory they hope will enable them to avoid facing Brazil in the next round assuming the hosts top Group A.
A draw would be enough to give the high-scoring Dutch top spot due to a goal difference of +5 versus Chile's +4.
Australia and Spain, also meeting on Monday, are battling for pride alone. The 2010 champions need to win in order to avoid the ignominy of bottom spot due to Australia's superior goal difference.
Still at stake: Colombia are top of Group C with six points from two wins, but need at least a draw against Japan on Tuesday to ensure top spot and the reward of a knockout game against the runners up of Group D.
The Ivory Coast, on three points, would qualify with a win over Greece in their remaining game on the same day.
Greece, who have one point from two games could reach the last 16 if they beat Ivory Coast to reach four points and Japan - also currently on one point - draw or lose to Colombia.
If Japan and Greece both win, then the second position would depend on goal difference, with Greece needing to catch a two-goal deficit to Japan. If they ended level on goal difference, it would go down to goals scored over the three group games.
Qualified: Costa Rica
Still at stake: Italy will qualify for the next round with a win against Uruguay in their game on Tuesday or a draw thanks to a superior goal difference. Uruguay must win to join Costa Rica, who are guaranteed passage with two wins out of two.
Should Costa Rica lose to England in their match on Tuesday, and Italy or Uruguay win, the top two teams would finish on six points and the group winner would be decided on goal difference. Costa Rica currently have a +3 goal difference to Italy's 0.
England, bottom on zero points, need a win to have any chance of catching Uruguay or Italy and avoiding the humiliation of last spot. But even that would be impossible if Uruguay and Italy draw.
Still at stake: With maximum six points and an enviable goal difference of +6, France look assured of qualification from Group E but do not yet have mathematical certainty.
It would take a heavy Ecuador defeat of 'Les Bleus' and a big win from Switzerland over Honduras on Wednesday to cause that unlikely scenario. Should France win or draw against Ecuador, they would top the group and face the runners up of Group F in the knockout stage.
Though bottom on zero points, Honduras could still qualify if they beat Switzerland and Ecuador lose, though goal difference would be the deciding factor. Honduras would have to hope the games produce a five-goal swing between themselves and Ecuador, who like the Swiss are currently on three points.
The Swiss will be hoping that France beat Ecuador, which would mean a draw or win against Honduras would promote them to second in the group.
Still at stake: Nigeria and Iran are battling for the second qualifying berth in Group F, with Nigeria on four points and Iran one.
To have any chance, Iran have to beat Bosnia, who are already out on zero points, and hope that Argentina, top on six points, defeat Nigeria.
A 1-0 win for Iran and 1-0 defeat for Nigeria would leave them level on both points and goal difference. In that rare scenario, the rules state the teams must be separated by goals scored in all matches, then points between them and goals between them. But given Iran and Nigeria would have both scored one goal each in the group, and they drew 0-0 against each other, that would not separate them so there would have to be a drawing of lots.
Still at stake: With Germany and the United States on four points, and Ghana and Portugal on one, there are a lot of possibilities in Group G.
Germany and the United States play each other on Thursday, with a draw ensuring passage for both and top spot for Germany on goal difference. A win for either would open the door for Ghana and Portugal to slip into second place.
If Germany win, Portugal would need to beat Ghana and hope they can overturn a goal difference deficit of five with the United States. If the United States win, Portugal would have to win and close a deficit of eight goals with Germany to pip them.
Ghana have a better goal difference than Portugal, -1 to -4, so if they beat Portugal and the United States lose then Ghana would go through provided they surpassed the goal difference deficit of two between them and the United States.
If Ghana won 1-0 and the United States lost 1-0, however, both would be on four points each with the same goal difference. In that case, the United States would qualify because they beat Ghana in their group game earlier.
Still at stake: With group favourites Belgium already qualified on a maximum six points from two games, Algeria are in pole position for the second berth after securing three points from a win against South Korea.
A win for Algeria against Russia on Thursday would ensure that they go through to the last sixteen. If they draw, however, Russia are eliminated but South Korea could sneak second place if they win heavily against Belgium.
If Algeria win and Belgium lose, Algeria will top the group on goal difference.
If both Russia and South Korea win, they would move to four points each from one now, and second place will be decided on goal difference between the two of them.
Russia have a one goal advantage right now.
If Russia beat Algeria and South Korea draw or lose against Belgium, Russia would take second spot on four points.
If South Korea are to finish second, they would need to beat Belgium by a healthy margin and, at the same time, hope Algeria and Russia draw, or Russia beat Algeria but by a narrow margin.
According to FIFA regulations, the ranking of teams in each group is based, in this order, on:
- Points in all group matches, with three points awarded for a win, one point for a draw and none for a loss.
- Goal difference in all group matches.
- Goals scored in all group matches.
- Points in matches between tied teams.
- Goal difference in matches between tied teams.
- Goals scored in matches between tied teams.
- Drawing of lots. (Additional reporting by Girish Gupta; Editing by Neil Maidment, Mark Gleeson and Nigel Hunt)