Spain and Portugal advanced to the knockout stage of from group B of the 2018 World Cup. They scored 5 points each while Iran and Morocco earned 4 and 1 points respectively.

5 points is the fewest number of points I can recall that the top seed of a group earned to advanced to the knockout round of the World Cup. The only other time I recall this is when Sweden, England, Argentina, and Nigeria scored also 5-5-4-1 points in 2002.

Since the introduction of the current format where 4 teams in a group play round robin games with winners earning 3 points, what are the top 5 lowest point total of the top seed in the history of the world cup? Similarly what is the lowest point total of the top 2 seeds in a group?

1 Answer 1


Restricting to the current 3 points win/1 point draw format, the minimum possible is 3, if all 6 games are tied. 4 is possible if all four teams are 1-1-1. Otherwise, 5 is the minimum; if one game is not a tie, then you will have 5-3-3-2; if two games are not tied, then you will have 5-5-3-1, 5-5-2-2, or 5-4-3-2 depending on which teams lose.

5 has been accomplished many times. In 2010, the US won Group C in identical fashion to Spain/Portugal this year (US and England both had 5 points to finish in first and second, and 4-1 for third and fourth). The same year, Group F was won by Paraguay over Slovakia 5-4 (-3-2). Similarly, as mentioned in the question, 2002 saw Group F won by Sweden over England 5-5 (-4-1). In 1998 Group E was won by Netherlands over Mexico 5-5 (-3-1).

However, Group E in 1994 holds the distinction of having a first place team with four points. All four teams won, lost, and drew, for a 1-1-1 record, and had a zero goal differential, the only time this has ever occurred in the World Cup. Mexico won the group by virtue of having scored one more goal than the other teams; Ireland took second on head to head with Italy (their lone win). 1994 was the first cup that 3 points were awarded for a win, and so before this points cannot be compared.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.