Argentina Not Eliminated, But World Cup Chances Are Slim

After two disappointing matches, Argentina’s World Cup could be coming to an end.

Messi and La Albiceleste are on the brink of elimination, and Friday’s Nigeria-Iceland match will determine just how difficult advancing could be. Argentina have one game left, and could depend on the performance of other teams to carry them through the group stage.

Argentina in the Standings

In Group D, Croatia lead all four teams with six points. They have guaranteed themselves passage to the next round, playing stylish football and dominating int he midfield. Unless Iceland win both of their remaining games, Croatia will be the top seed advancing out of the group.

Nigeria and Iceland, playing Friday afternoon, will have a huge impact on Argentina’s future. If Iceland win and climb to four points, Argentina will need to beat Nigeria and make up a negative goal difference to surpass Iceland in the standings. That’s where losing 0-3 to Croatia and giving up those late goals could prove devastating.

If Nigeria and Iceland draw, the decision to see Argentina through could fall to Croatia. When Croatia and Iceland meet in their final group match, Croatia’s desire to win the game directly translates to Argentina’s elimination chances. Anything other than a Croatia win over Iceland could prove fatal for Argentina, who can only carry a maximum of four points at the end of group play. If Iceland draw Nigeria, a win over Croatia would seal their passage to the next round.

Basically, because Argentina can only grab four points, any path that gets Iceland to five points is a trip to the Knockout Rounds.

Hope is still alive for Nigeria, but only with a positive result against Iceland. Remember that four points is the magic number, so Nigeria need some semblance of a positive result in their second match to keep the dream alive.

How Argentina Avoid Elimination

If Argentina want to keep their World Cup dream alive, they have to defeat Nigeria at the bare minimum. Two points will not be enough to leave the group stage, and the team’s -3 goal differential prevents them from winning any tiebreakers.

Let’s play the hypothetical game. According to OddsShark supercomputer, Iceland is projected to defeat Nigeria. If that happens, this will be Argentina’s road out of the group:

Argentina must beat Nigeria
Croatia must beat Iceland
Argentina’s goal differential must be higher than Iceland.

Things get easier if Nigeria and Iceland play to a draw:

Argentina must beat Nigeria
Croatia must beat/draw Iceland

And lastly, if Nigeria beat Iceland:

Argentina must beat Nigeria
If Croatia beat/draw Iceland, Argentina advance
If Iceland beat Croatia, Argentina must finish with higher goal differential

So fear not, Messi. Argentina have not been eliminated from World Cup contention. But it’s close, and Friday’s Iceland-Nigeria match will clear up the path to advancement for all three teams.

Source: Heavy Sports