Netherlands v Canada, Cameroon v New Zealand: Women’s World Cup clockwatch – live! | Football
In an ideal world, the number of teams at all World Cups would follow the old geometric sequence: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and so on. But sometimes that isn’t possible, for reasons too boring to go into here, and that means you need creative solutions to find out who qualifies for the knockout stage. At this, the second 24-team Women’s World Cup, that means the return of old friend The Four Best Third-Placed Teams!
The format looks pretty simple. The top two from the six groups go through, along with the four best third-placed teams. But the manifestations of that can sometimes be both brainbusting and, as Scotland found out last night, heartbreaking.
It also means it is possible to lose your first two games and still qualify. That’s the carrot dangling in front of New Zealand and Cameroon, who meet in Montpellier their final Group E match tonight. If they draw, they are both out. If either team wins by two goals, they will qualify*. If they win by one goal, it gets complicated, more of which should that situation arise. Essentially, a big one-goal win (2-1, 3-2, 4-3) is good, a 1-0 win less so, but it would still be enough unless China thump Thailand by at least three goals tonight.
We’ll be following the New Zealand v Camerron game along with the first-place play-off between the Netherlands and Canada in Remis. The Netherlands have the draw, by virtue of having scored more goals than Canada. The winners of the group face a tricky second round match against Japan; the runners-up face a tricky match against Sweden or an exceedingly tricky one against the USA. (It’ll be Sweden unless they beat the USA tonight.)
The matches kick off at 6pm local time, 5pm in Guardian Towers, London.
* Guardian.co.uk reeserves the right to get these permutations completely wrong, like the befuddled dunce we are.