FIFA's tiebreaking system has come into focus after the United States failed to secure a spot in the final 16 Sunday with a dramatic last-minute goal by Portugal.

Now the Americans need everything to fall their way Thursday to advance out of the so-called Group of Death.

The United States would advance to the knockout stage with a victory or draw against Germany in the Group G finale. It also advances no matter what if Ghana and Portugal tie. Even in defeat, the Americans could move on if they were to win a tiebreaker over Ghana or Portugal.

A number of teams could find themselves in the latter scenario. It is possible many of them will be tied on points after the three group games. Victories are worth three points, draws one.

Here is a look at the tiebreaking rules:

Tiebreaker 1

Goal differential

It is determined by subtracting overall goals scored from goals allowed in all group games.

Tiebreaker 2

Total goals scored in all group games.

If two or more teams still are equal on the basis of the above criteria, their rankings shall be determined as follows:

-- Greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned;

-- Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned;

-- Greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned;

-- Drawing of lots by the FIFA organizing committee.

The group standings and scenarios:


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GROUP A

Brazil (7 points)

Brazil won the group with easy 4-1 victory over Cameroon and will play Chile in the second round.

Mexico (7 points)

Despite an impressive 3-1 victory over Croatia, El Tri must face the Netherlands in the second round as Group A's runner-up. Mexico could not overcome Brazil's goal differential of +5.

Croatia (3 points)

The Central Europeans were eliminated Monday by losing to Mexico.

Cameroon (0 points)

The Indomitable Lions already are eliminated.

GROUP B

Netherlands (9 points)

The Dutch won the group with a 2-0 victory Monday over Chile.

Chile (6 points)

Chile is runner-up and will face Brazil in the round of 16 if the Brazilians win later Monday.

Spain (3 points)

Spain finally got a victory Monday after it had been eliminated.

Australia (0 points)

GROUP C

Colombia (6 points, +4 GD) vs. Japan

Colombia already qualified for the second round but can win the group with a victory or tie. It also wins the group if the Ivory Coast loses or draws against Greece, or defeats Greece but remains behind Colombia in goal differential.

Ivory Coast (3 points, 0 GD) vs. Greece

Les Elephants will advance with a victory, or a draw coupled with a Japan loss. They would win the group with a victory, a Colombian defeat and then winning the goal differential tiebreaker with los Cafeteros. A loss to loss would eliminate the Ivory Coast.

Japan (1 point, -1 GD) vs. Colombia

Japan needs a victory coupled with an Ivory Coast defeat to advance. It also can move on with a victory and an Ivory Coast draw, assuming the Japanese can overtake les Elephants in the tiebreaker. They will be eliminated with a defeat or tie.

Greece (1 points, -3 GD) vs. Ivory Coast

The Greeks would advance with a victory and a Japanese loss or draw. If both Greece and Japan wins, the Greeks need to have a better goal differential than Japan to move on. The Greeks will be eliminated with a defeat or tie.

GROUP D

Costa Rica (6 points, +3 GD) vs. England

Costa Rica, which surprisingly has qualified for the knockout stage, would win the group with a victory or tie. The Ticos still can win the group with a loss to England if Italy and Uruguay tie, or if the Italy-Uruguay winner fails to win the goal differential tiebreaker.

Italy (3 points, 0 GD) vs. Uruguay

The Azzurri would advance with a victory or draw. But they would be eliminated with a loss. Italy can win the group with a victory, coupled with a Costa Rica loss and having a better goal differential than the Ticos.

Uruguay (3 points, -1 GD) vs. Italy

La Celeste will advance with a victory but would be eliminated with a loss or draw. It can win the group with a victory and a Costa Rica loss -- if Uruguay also wins the goal differential against the Central Americans.

England (0 points, -2 GD) vs. Costa Rica

England has been eliminated.

GROUP E

France (6 points, +6 GD) vs. Ecuador

France, which already clinched a spot in the knockout stage, will win the group with at least a draw. It also can win the group with a loss, as long as Ecuador or Switzerland don't have a better goal differential.

Ecuador (3 points, 0 GD) vs. France

It will advance with a victory -- unless Switzerland beats Honduras and has a better goal differential. It also could advance with a tie, and the unlikely event of a Honduras victory or draw. If it loses to France, Ecuador would need Honduras to upset Switzerland and a favorable goal differential.

Ecuador would win the group with a victory and a better goal differential than France.

Switzerland (3 points, -2 GD) vs. Honduras

The Swiss will advance with a victory, coupled with a France victory or tie. They also would move on with a tie and a French victory, or a defeat and an Ecuadoran loss that drops the South Americans behind Switzerland in the tiebreaker.

The Swiss will win the group with a victory, coupled with an Ecuador win in which Switzerland passes France and Ecuador in goal differential.

Honduras (0 points, -4 GD) vs. Switzerland

Surprisingly, Honduras still can advance with a victory, and an Ecuador loss in which it falls behind los Catrachos in goal differential. Honduras will be eliminated with a defeat or draw.

GROUP F

Argentina (6 points, +2 GD vs. Nigeria

Argentina, which is moving on, will win the group with a victory or draw. A defeat drops Albiceleste to second place.

Nigeria (4 points, +1 GD) vs. Argentina

The Super Eagles can win the group with a victory. They will advance with a draw, or a loss, coupled with a Bosnia-Herzegovina victory or draw. Nigeria also can advance with a defeat and an Iranian victory if it has a better goal differential than Team Melli.

Iran (1 point, -1 GD) vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina

Iran will advance with a victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina and a Nigerian defeat only if it has a better goal differential than the Super Eagles. Iran will be eliminated with a loss or draw.

Bosnia-Herzegovina (0 points, -2 GD) vs. Iran

The Bosnians have been eliminated.

GROUP G

Germany (4 points, +4 GD) vs. United States

The Germans will win the group with a victory or draw. They will advance with a loss and a Ghana-Portugal tie, or if the Ghana-Portugal winner does not pass Germany in goal differential.

United States (4 points, +1 GD) vs. Germany

The Americans will win the group with a victory Thursday. They will advance with a tie, but also will move on with a loss if Ghana-Portugal draw. They further can advance with a defeat if Portugal wins but loses the first tiebreaker.

The United States also would advance after a defeat to Germany if Ghana wins by scoring only one goal (to win the second tiebreaker of most overall goals).

Ghana (1 point, -1 GD) vs. Portugal

The Black Stars will advance with a victory coupled with having a better goal differential than the loser of the Germany-United States game. Ghana will be eliminated with a loss or draw against Portugal or with a German-American tie.

Portugal (1 point, -4 GD) vs. Ghana

The Portuguese would advance with a victory in which they pass the loser of Germany-U.S. game in goal differential. They will be eliminated with a loss or draw, or in the case of a German-American tie.

GROUP H

Belgium (6 points, +2 GD) vs. South Korea

Belgium, which has clinched a spot in the knockout stage, will win the group with a victory or draw. It also would take the group with a loss and a Russian victory. A defeat coupled with an Algerian victory drops Belgium to second.

Algeria (3 points, +1 GD) vs. Russia

The Desert Foxes will win the group with a victory and a Belgian loss. They will advance with a victory. They also will advance with a draw, and a Belgian victory or draw -- or a defeat but South Korea still has a worse goal differential.

Russia (1 point, -1 GD) vs. Algeria

The Russians will advance with a victory and a Belgian victory or draw. They also will advance with a victory and a Belgium defeat -- if South Korea doesn't have a better goal differential.

South Korea (1 points, -2 GD) vs. Belgium

The Koreans will advance with a victory coupled with a Russian triumph. They also can advance with a victory, coupled with an Algerian tie, if South Korea wins the goal differential tiebreaker over Algeria.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.