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What do Socceroos need to qualify for World Cup knockout stages? Explaining the scenarios for Australia to advance

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Australia supercharged their chances of making the 2022 FIFA World Cup knockout stage with a vital win over Tunisia in their second group game.

The Socceroos bounced back from losing 4-1 to France in their opening match, when they had shocked the reigning champions by taking an early lead.

Manager Graham Arnold said his side wanted to put smiles on supporters’ faces before they took on the Carthage Eagles – and now they can turn relief into rapture when they face Denmark next after Mitchell Duke’s goal secured a 1-0 win against Tunisia.

Will a win against the Danes send Australia through? What happens if they draw? Is a defeat disastrous? Here are the permutations.

MORE: Tunisia vs Australia World Cup highlights as Mitchell Duke gives Socceroos victory

What do the Socceroos need to advance from the group stage?

Australia’s fate is in their own hands. Victory against Denmark will guarantee progress from the group – and they would top the group with a win if France fail to win against Denmark and/or Tunisia – or if Les Bleus only collect three points and there is a sufficient change in the goal difference between them and Australia.

It is more likely that Australia will finish second if they qualify, because France’s goal count was by far superior to them before Didier Deschamps’ side kicked off against Denmark. 

What happens if Australia draw against Denmark?

That will depend on how Denmark fare against France. If the Danes win, they will move a point ahead of the reigning champions and the Socceroos – so they would only require a point to finish above Australia.

It would mean that France could lose to Denmark but still qualify at Australia’s expense with a draw against Tunisia because of their goal difference advantage.

MORE: Australia World Cup odds: Can Socceroos win the World Cup 2022? Potential knockout round matches in Qatar

If Denmark draw with France, Australia can go through with a draw against them – as long as Tunisia don’t beat France.

In that scenario, Australia’s qualification hopes could depend on how well Tunisia beat France, with victory by more than a goal giving them the edge over Arnold’s team.

One unlikely possibility is that Tunisia beat France by a goal in a high-scoring game while Australia draw. In that scenario, Australia may have to hope that the team they beat on Saturday do not end up scoring more overall goals than them.

What happens if the Socceroos lose?

Defeat would make qualification highly unlikely for Australia, who would be relying on a fiasco for France in their second and third group games.

France would have to lose to Denmark and Tunisia by an aggregate deficit of at least six goals – and that’s in a best-case scenario of Australia only being beaten by a goal by Denmark.

Even then, Australia might have to hope they are involved in a high-scoring defeat to overhaul the number of goals scored by France.

MORE: Australia World Cup jersey 2022: New Socceroos shirt, full Nike kits, home and away colours for Qatar

How many points does it take to qualify for World Cup last 16?

The 2018 tournament offered more evidence that teams tend to need at least four points to qualify from the group stage.

Three of the eight second-placed teams at those finals earned five points, with the bar raised a point higher by three of their fellow qualifiers.

There were, however, two groups that demonstrated how tight qualification can be: Lionel Messi and Argentina edged through on four points, while Japan and the eliminated Senegal had to be separated by fair play points – based on the number of yellow and red cards each team received – after both finished on four points.

When is Australia v Denmark?

The game takes place at 2 a.m. AEST on December 1 2022. You can follow live updates from the game courtesy of The Sporting News.


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