The equation: how the Matildas can progress to the knockout phase of Tokyo 2020

WIN, lose or draw against United States tonight, and the Matildas will remain in the hunt for a spot in the last eight teams of the Women's Football Tournament at Tokyo 2020.

The 12-team group stage comes to an end this evening, with the two highest finishers from each of the three groups progressing to the Quarter Finals.

Those six sides will be joined by the two best third-place finishers from the three groups. The Matildas currently occupy third spot in Group G, with three points on the board.

HOW TO WATCH: Matildas to put it all on the line against United States

Before reading how Australia can move into the final eight, it's important to take note of the current standings in each of the three Olympic groups:

GROUP E

GAMES

GOAL DIF

POINTS

Great Britain 2 3 6
Canada 2 1 4
Japan 2 -1 1
Chile 2 -3 0

 

GROUP F GAMES GOAL DIF POINTS
Netherlands 2 7 4
Brazil 2 5 4
China PR 2 -5 1
Zambia 2 -7 1

 

GROUP G GAMES GOAL DIF POINTS
Sweden 2 5 6
USA 2 2 3
Australia 2 -1 3
New Zealand 2 -6 0

The Australian equation

If the Matildas beat United States, progression to the final eight will be secured. Australia will finish either first or second in Group G on six points, dependant on whether Sweden can maintain their perfect record with a win against New Zealand. If Australia and Sweden finish on six points apiece, the following criteria will be used to separate the two sides, in this order:

  • Superior goal difference in all group matches
  • Greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.

The winner of Group G will progress to face the third-place finisher in either Group E or F (currently Japan and China respectively), whilst the second-place finisher in Group G will take on the winner of Group F (currently Netherlands).

Should the Matildas draw with United states, both nations will end the tournament on four points apiece. United States' superior goal difference heading into the final game of the group stages would hand Australia a third-place finish in Group G. 

This is where the remaining third-place finishers come into play. The current state of affairs has Japan and China third in Group E and F on one point apiece. Australia's total of three points to date would extend to four with a draw against United States, putting the Green and Gold in good stead to end the group stage as the best of the third-place finishers.

Defeat in the final group match of the tournament puts the Matildas in a trickier predicament. Three points from three group games would leave Australia hoping for the following results:

A New Zealand loss to Sweden would confirm Australia's third-place finish in Group G. The Kiwis are currently three points behind Australia with a five-goal gap to make up in goal difference. Finishing fourth is highly unlikely for Australia, but stranger things have happened in the long history of the beautiful game. 

In Group E, third-place Japan meets fourth-placed Chile. A draw between the two teams would see Chile finish on one point, and Japan two. Australia's three points would then be enough to ensure a finish as one of the two best third-place finishers.

In Group F, if Netherlands and Brazil can take points off China and Zambia respectively, then Australia will finish with more points than Group F's eventual third-place finisher, resulting in progression to the final eight.

And so, the equation is set. With a draw or victory against United States the number one objective for Australia on Wednesday night, the hopes of a nation will drive the Matildas forward in pursuit of Olympic glory.

HOW TO WATCH: Matildas to put it all on the line against United States

Yallop