The opening sentence or two of these CFs are starting to feel like Groundhog Day for me. So we’re going to kick things off with a random fact. Did you know that the Eiffel Tower can be up to 15 cm taller in the summer? Thermal expansion, the iron heating up, can make the landmark slightly bigger. To the football.
In Group E, Spain goes through with a win or a draw against Japan or if Costa Rica draw Germany. If Spain lose, they can still advance on goal difference if Germany beat Costa Rica. Japan qualifies for the knockouts with a win over Spain. They can advance with a draw if Costa Rica and Germany draw or on goal difference if Germany beat Costa Rica. Costa Rica advance with a win and can advance with a draw depending on the result in the other match. Germany are guaranteed to advance if they win and Spain beats Japan. They can also advance on goal difference if Spain does not beat Japan.
In Group F, Canada are eliminated. Croatia advance with a win or draw, and they can advance on goal differential if they lose. Morocco move on with a win, draw, or if Croatia beat Belgium. They can also qualify for the knockouts on goal difference with a loss. Belgium advance with a win. They can also qualify on goal difference with a draw if Canada beats Morocco.
Tunisia 1 - France 0: Didier Deschamps made 9 changes to his side because France had already qualified for the knockout stage. Australia beating Denmark knocked Tunisia out, but it’s nice to get a win at the World Cup.
Australia 1 - Denmark 0: the Socceroos make it two “soccer” countries in the knockout stages. Take that, world. Australia advance (with two wins) without amassing more then .5 xG in any of their games. What a disappointing showing from Denmark.
Argentina 2 - Poland 0: turns out that shocking loss to Saudi Arabia to open the group was an aberration for Argentina. They were comfortably the best team in Group C. Poland advance with a scintillating goal difference of 0. Our buddy Wojciech Szczęsny saved a Leo Messi penalty.
Mexico 2 - Saudi Arabia 1: there was a portion of this match where it looked as if who advances between Mexico and Poland would come down to FIFA Fair Play points (yellow and red cards). Mexico twice thought they’d scored a crucial third goal, only to see it ruled out for offside. It’s the first time Mexico have failed to advance from the group stage since 1978.