World champions Italy can hardly have foreseen that they would be heading into their final group game on Thursday unsure of a Round of 16 berth.
That, however, is the situation currently facing La Nazionale, who lie second in Group F on the same points' total as New Zealand following Sunday's 1-1 draw with the All Whites.
Paraguay occupy pole position thanks to their 2-0 success against Slovakia, but with just three points separating top from bottom, all four teams can still dream of going through.
To do so, victory will be imperative on the final day of action, with only the current leaders certain of progressing with a draw.
As it stands
1. Paraguay: 4 pts; GD +2; 3 goals scored
2. Italy: 2 pts; GD 0; 2 goals scored
3. New Zealand: 2 pts; GD 0; 2 goals scored
4. Slovakia: 1 pt; GD -2; 1 goal scored
Next up (Thursday 24 June, 1500)
Paraguay v New Zealand, Polokwane
Slovakia v Italy, Johannesburg
According to the Regulations of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the ranking of each team in each group will be determined as follows:
a) greatest number of points obtained in all group matches;
b) goal difference in all group matches;
c) greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.
If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings will be determined as follows:
d) greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned;
e) goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned;
f) greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned;
g) drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee.
– If Paraguay win or draw against New Zealand, they will qualify for the Round of 16.
– If Paraguay win, they will top the section. They will also be guaranteed first place in the event of a draw, as long as Italy fail to win their game against Slovakia.
– If Paraguay draw and Italy prevail, top spot will come down to goal difference.
– If Italy beat Slovakia they will qualify. If they draw, they will still qualify as long as New Zealand fail to defeat Paraguay. Their fate will come down to goals scored if New Zealand draw against Paraguay.
- If both games finish as identical draws, Italy and New Zealand will be drawing lots for second spot.
– If New Zealand beat Paraguay, they will advance. If they draw, they can only qualify as long as Italy draw against Slovakia and they finish with more goals scored than La Nazionale, or by the drawing of lots.
– If Slovakia beat Italy, they will be guaranteed progress providing New Zealand do not overcome Paraguay. If Slovakia and New Zealand both win, the Slovakians will be tied with Paraguay on four points and goal difference will decide who goes through.