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England vs Wales: Can both teams qualify for the World Cup last 16?


England and Wales do battle on Tuesday evening, with a place in the World Cup last 16 at stake. Both sides are still able to qualify for the knockouts, although what they need to achieve that goal varies in difficulty for each team.

A draw with the USA puts Gareth Southgate’s side on four points after two games, with the 6-2 thrashing of Iran also boosting their goal difference. Top spot is also valuable, knowing they will avoid the winners of Group A should they hold on, with Iran just a point behind on three points, USA on two and Wales bottom on one.

England currently top the group and Wales must therefore leapfrog Iran, on three points, and the USA, third on two points, or face an early trip home, although they can mathematically still top the group themselves. There is also a scenario where both British sides can reach the last 16.

Here are the permutations for both England and Wales to qualify for the last 16:

Can England and Wales both qualify from Group B?

In short, yes. If Wales beat England (by fewer than six goals) while the Iran vs USA game ends in a draw, then both British teams would advance to the last 16.

What do England and Wales each need to qualify from Group B?

England are not qualified from Group B yet after a goalless draw with the USA. Gareth Southgate’s side are on four points, with Iran, USA and Wales also still able to progress.

The equation is simple for the Three Lions: Avoid a four-goal defeat to Wales on Tuesday.

To secure top spot: Win. Simply. But top spot is still England’s if they draw unless Iran beat the USA or the USA beat Iran by at least four goals. Top spot is also England’s if Iran and the USA draw and they avoid a loss to Wales by four or more goals.

The route for Wales is trickier. The first part is arguably the hardest: Beat England and hope for a draw between the United States and Iran.

But if the USA vs Iran match is not a draw, Wales must beat England by four goals to advance.

To secure top spot: Beat England by four goals with a draw between USA and Iran.

The United States have a straightforward equation: Win. Iran have an easier route, a draw is enough, unless Wales beat England.

How is qualification decided?

Should teams be level on points after three games, then progress will be determined by goal difference, then goals scored, then the head-to-head results between the relevant sides. It then gets complicated from there…

  1. Goal difference
  2. Goals scored
  3. Head-to-head results
  4. Fair play: The team that advances will be the one who accumulates the fewest indiscipline points wins (this is totalled with one point for a yellow card, three points for a red card shown for two yellows and four points for a direct red card, plus five points for a player shown a direct red card while already on a yellow card).
  5. Lots drawn

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