What needs to happen for Scotland to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup?

Scotland's defeat against Japan in their second group game means Shelley Kerr's side can no longer finish as one of the top two teams in Group D and automatically qualify for the knockout stages at the 2019 Women's World Cup.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 12:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 1:53 pm
Scotland squad celebrate after Lana Clelland pulls a goal back in the defeat to Japan.

Read More

Read More
Celtic 'make offer' for Gabala defender, Rangers miss out on target, SFPL 'could sue MSPs over sectarianism' - Scottish Premiership Rumour Mill

However, they can still make it to the knockout stages with a winning performance in their final match and a little bit of help from elsewhere.

Four of the six best third-place teams will advance to the last 16 along with the group winners and runners-up.

Scotland squad celebrate after Lana Clelland pulls a goal back in the defeat to Japan.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Four points would have made it a certainty, but even with three points there's a decent chance it could happen.

Defeating Argentina in the final group game is an absolute must. While the Scots would have been favourites for the match going into the tournament, the Argentines put up more of a defensive fight in their two games against Japan and England than Scotland were able to, conceding just once across 180 minutes compared with Scotland's four.

This, however, is a very different contest for the South American side. With a win guaranteeing them a place in the knockout stages and a draw unlikely to be good enough, they may be forced to throw more caution to the wind, which Scotland could exploit.

A victory alone would give Scotland a great chance, but the margin of victory could also prove to be crucial.

The tiebreaker for teams with the same points total is goal difference. Scotland are currently on -2. Any sort of win would be enough to better the third place team in Group A, which is Nigeria. They were undone by an incredible piece of misfortune towards the end of their clash with France, when the goalkeeper was penalised for moving off her line at a penalty save, as Wendie Renard buried the retake for the only goal of the game.

From a Scottish perspective, that slice of good luck could be seen as balancing out what happened in the Spain v China match, as the Spaniards bombared the Chinese box for 90 minutes but couldn't find a way through, ending in a 0-0 draw that saw both teams advance. Had Spain managed to get the goal their play merited, Scotland wouldn't have been in a situation where they need help from elsewhere.

If they manage to defeat Argentina, Kerr and her team won't know their fate until tomorrow evening when the final Group E and Group F matches will be played.

Both groups are the same in the sense that the bottom two teams are on zero points and they each play against each other. A draw in either game would be enough for send a victorious Scots team through.

That is unlikely to come from Group F, however. Thailand were beaten 13-0 by the United States in their opening game and then thumped 5-1 by Sweden in the next match (incidentally, the coach was so delighted they managed to get one goal that she cried with happiness). Chile themselves are on -5 goal difference, so it would be great if Thailand could suffer just a narrow defeat.

The best chance comes from Group E where Cameroon and New Zealand square off against each other. Both teams are on -3 goal difference with Cameroon's one goal scored the only strike between them.

While the goals scored by Claire Emslie and Lana Clelland towards the end of the England and Japan matches, respectively, may have looked like mere consolations in the aftermath, they could still be significant in helping their side reach the last 16.

Cameroon would need to score at least one more goal than Scotland and record at least a two-goal winning margin against the Kiwis in order to stand a chance of advancing. New Zealand need the same margin of victory but would have to score at least three times.

If either team ends up on the exact same goal difference and points total (a 1-0 Scotland triumph and 3-1 New Zealand win would give us such a scenario) then the tie-breaker will go down to fair play points across the group stages as a whole.