Here is the rule for the ranking of the teams in the Group Stage of the World Cup, from Article 41 of the Regulations, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (PDF):

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

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

If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings shall 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.

Can someone explain me what "between the teams concerned" means in item d), e), f) ?

  • Hang on, so lets say a team took the first spot in their group. And lets say two teams are fighting for that 2nd place finish to qualify. After all the matches have been played, if they (because anythings possible): Have the same number of points (a) Same goal differential (b) Same number of goals scored (c) And, in the 1 match between them, there was a tie (d,e,f) Would that mean that FIFA would end up drawing out of a hat? Haha woooooooot. Won't this cause a complete backlash later on, if this scenario actually happens.
    – user4810
    Jun 19, 2014 at 0:23
  • it seems as though e and f are irrelevant though as to get past d the two teams must have drawn their game against each other - otherwise a result happens at stage d. If they did draw against each other e and f will not make any difference as goal difference and goals scored of a tied game will be the same. weird!
    – user4816
    Jun 20, 2014 at 7:25
  • This would apply if only two teams are tied, but there could be a 3-way tie.
    – Fillet
    Jun 20, 2014 at 11:29
  • It looks like this could actually come up in Group G! If Portugal beats Ghana 4-0, and USA lose to Germany 3-2, then each will have 4 points, 6 GA and 6 GF. Their only match is a draw, so it looks like it would come down to drawing lots.
    – BobRodes
    Jun 23, 2014 at 0:08

3 Answers 3


This rule concerns how the teams are ranked after the Group Stage (Round of 32) is done, determining which teams move on to the Round of 16.

In each group, there are four teams. During the Group Stage, each team plays the other three teams in their group. For these three matches, each team is awarded 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. After the Group Stage is over, the four teams in each group are ranked according to how many points they accumulated over the three matches. (This is criteria A in the rule you cited.)

If there is a tie after this ranking, criteria B and C are used, using the statistics from ALL three group matches that each team played in determining the rank order.

If there is still a tie after criteria C is applied, criteria D, E, and F are used. The difference between these three criteria and criteria A, B, and C is that with D, E, and F, the only match(es) you look at is the match between the teams that are still tied.

After the ranking in each group is figured out, the top two teams in each group move on to the Round of 16.


If, after ranking the teams based on the criteria described in A, B and C, there still at least two teams that are equal (i.e., there is no distinct winner of the group yet), those teams then need to be compared further to determine the top team in the group.

Example: Team 1, Team 2, Team 3, Team 4 are in a group,

After the group stage finishes, you evaluate all four teams against A, B and C. If the criteria of those three rules has not determined a single group winner -- say Team 1 and Team 2 are tied based on A, B and C's criteria -- then the teams (Team 1 and 2, referred to as the teams concerned) need to be further evaluated by d, then E, then f, then g, if necessary.


This is especially useful when more than two teams are exactly tied, for example :

  • A 2-1 B
  • C 1-1 D
  • A 2-3 C
  • B 2-2 D
  • A 0-0 D
  • B 1-0 C

This makes

  • A : 4 points, avg. 0, 4 scored, 4 against
  • B : 4 points, avg. 0, 4 scored, 4 against
  • C : 4 points, avg. 0, 4 scored, 4 against
  • D : 3 points, avg. 0, 3 scored, 3 against

We take then the games between teams A, B and C, and we do the rankings without team D's games :

  • A : 3 points, avg. 0, 4 scored, 4 against
  • B : 3 points, avg. 0, 2 scored, 2 against
  • C : 3 points, avg. 0, 3 scored, 3 against

Thus, tied after d), e), but not after f) : A is #1 and C is #2

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