Left: Photo by Khalil Bashar/Jam Media/Getty Images, Center: Photo by Fu Tian/China News Service via Getty Images, Right: Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The Path to the Round of 16: Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Mexico Put It All on the Line


We are through two matches of Group Stage play at FIFA World Cup 2022. A few teams have been mathematically eliminated from the tournament, and a couple of teams have already secured their tickets to the Round of 16. Ahead of the third and final set of group matches, we thought it would be a good idea to look at each team and see what it will need to continue its time in Qatar.

Up until this point, the World Cup has been played one game at a time. But for the third match, all teams in each group will play at the same time. This is to deter collusion between teams that know they only need a draw to advance or keep another team out of the knockout rounds. It means that teams don't necessarily know the outcome of the rest of the group and must play to the worst-case scenario. (Admittedly, the advent of smartphones and social media has complicated this situation a bit.)

On Wednesday,  Group C will play at 2 p.m. EST, and every team can find a way into the Round of 16 just as easily as they can find a way out.

Group C - Messi Holds His Future in His Hands

Lionel Messi of Argentina controls the ball during the Finalissima 2022 match between Italy and Argentina at Wembley Stadium

Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

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Poland (4 points) -- A win or a draw against Argentina guarantees a spot in the Round of 16. A Poland loss and a draw in the Mexico/Saudi Arabia match would also see Poland through. Poland can also advance if it loses to Argentina and Mexico beats Saudi Arabia if the goal differential works out. A Poland loss and Saudi Arabia win eliminates Poland. 

Argentina (3 points) -- A win against Poland guarantees a spot in the Round of 16. A draw against Poland and either a Saudi Arabia/Mexico draw or Mexico victory by three goals or fewer will secure a spot in the knockouts for Argentina. If Argentina loses to Poland, it will go home.

Saudi Arabia (3 points) -- A win against Mexico guarantees a spot in the Round of 16. A draw against Mexico and a Poland win will also punch its ticket to the next round. Any other combination of results will end with Saudi Arabia exiting the tournament. 

Mexico (1 point) -- Mexico needs to beat Saudi Arabia and get help from the other match to advance. A Mexico win and a Poland win will get Mexico to the Round of 16. If Poland and Argentina draw, Mexico would need to beat Saudi Arabia by four goals to advance. If Argentina beats Poland, Mexico would need to beat Saudi Arabia by five goals to advance. Anything else, and Mexico's World Cup is over.


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