World Cup: Portugal’s Group B scenarios explained before Iran match


Matchday 3 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is upon us and almost nothing has been decided. That’s the beauty and thrill of the tournament.

In this piece, we clarify what Cristiano Ronaldo fans should know about Portugal’s World Cup Last 16 qualification chances — be it as group B winners or runners-up. We shall also explore the horrible scenarios that would get the Seleccao out of Russia 2018 if care is not taken.

What is Group B’s standing ahead of Matchday 3? 

As shown in the featured image of this article, Spain and Portugal are tied at the top of the table. They both clinched the same number of goals and points. After opening their FIFA World Cup campaign with a nail-bitting 3-3 draw, they both went on to defeat their next opponent 1-0 on Matchday 2. This has put the two Iberian nations on 4 points (+1) while Iran have 3 points and Morocco, already disqualified, have none.

What are Group B’s full fixtures on Matchday 3? 

First of all, you should know that the fixtures on the final group stage matchday are set to kick-off simultaneously. In Group B, gear up for Iran vs Portugal and Spain vs Morocco on Monday, June 25, 2018.

Kick-off is at 21:00 local time. For the sake of our global audience, here is the match’s kick-off time converted in various timezones. Iran vs Portugal will start at:

11:00 PT in Los Angeles
14:00 ET in New York/Toronto
18:00 GMT in Ghana
19:00 WAET in Nigeria
19:00 WET in Portugal
19:00 BST in England
22:00 IRDT in Iran

So there are good and bad prospects. Let’s start with the bad one!

Group B permutations at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Worst case scenario: could Portugal crash out of the World Cup group stages?

In one word, yes. They could. This terrible fate is mathematically not impossible yet, unfortunately. Should the Iranians stun Fernando Santos and company, the Portuguese will find themselves two points behind their counterparts. In such case, only a victory of Morocco over Spain would rescue the Euro 2016 champions. This is how Group B’s standings could look in two worst case scenarios:

If Portugal lose on Monday and Spain secure at least a draw:

#1 – Iran: 6 points
#2 – Spain: 5 points
#3 – Portugal: 4 points
#4 – Morocco: 1 point

If Portugal lose on Monday and Spain beat Morocco:

#1 – Spain: 7 points
#2 – Iran: 6 points
#3 – Portugal: 4 points
#4 – Morocco: 0 points

Could Portugal lose to Iran and still qualify? Tiebreakers explained

As referred to above, the answer is a plain ‘YES’. Here’s how Group B will look like if Portugal get help to qualify into the 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16. In other words, if Morocco do Cristiano’s side a favor by recording a stunning win over the 2010 World Cup winners.

#1 – Iran: 6 points
#2 – Portugal: 4 points
#3 – Spain: 4 points
#4 – Morocco: 3 points

Then again, such a scenario is more complicated than you think. Spain would automatically rank below Portugal (and hence crash out) if they lose by a bigger margin or by more goals conceded than Portugal on Matchday 3. But what happens if they both lose by the same score line on Matchday 3?

Tiebreakers would then be applied. As things stand, Spain and Portugal have netted and conceded exactly the same amount of goals while picking the same amount of points. This means, it would resort to the following:

– Goal difference in all group matches
– Number of goals scored in all group matches

Now, since Portugal and Spain are equal in terms of head-to-head, as they drew when they clashed, the next tiebreaker would also not apply. At this point, the Fair Play rule (points deduction for yellow and red cards) could decide who goes through. If, again, it’s all square between Spain and Portugal, the Group B runners-up spot would be decided through a drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee.

Too much hassle, isn’t it?

What must Portugal do to win Group B?

Interestingly, Portugal could need just a draw to win the group. Here’s why.

If Spain lose against Morocco:

#1 – Portugal: 5 points
#2 – Spain: 4 points
#3 – *Iran: 4 points
#4 – Morocco: 3 points

*Spain and Iran would battle for the runners-up spot based on goal difference. If the goal difference is the same, Iran would lose out on the runners-up spot to Spain due to the head-to-head factor.

One point to note is that Portugal could claim victory on Monday and still qualify only as runners-up. This would occur if Spain wins by a bigger margin. If Portugal and Spain both win their games (hence finish with 7 points) with the same winning margin, tiebreaking rules would be applied to see who qualifies as group winners.

What if Portugal qualifies for the World Cup Last 16 as runners-up?

In truth, the Seleccao need ony a draw to qualify from Group B. Let’s look at the standings if things end all square against Iran and,

If Spain beat Morocco:

#1 – Spain: 7 points
#2 – Portugal: 5 points
#3 – Iran: 4 points
#4 – Morocco: 0 points

If Spain draw against Morocco:

#1 – *Spain: 5 points
#2 – Portugal: 5 points
#3 – Iran: 4 points
#4 – Morocco: 1 point

*Then again, tiebreaking rules would apply to decide who are Group B’s winners and runners-up.

At least two hours prior to Group B’s clashes, Portugal will know who they will be facing in the FIFA World Cup Last 16 should they qualify as runners-up or group winners. The bracket will pair the winners of Group A with the runners-up of Group B, and the runners-up of Group A with the winners of Group B. A date with either Russia or Uruguay is on the cards, once Portugal secure qualification on Monday.

Like and share this article in forums and on your social media platforms for fellow fans to understand Group B’s complex permutations. 


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