With one match left for each team in group play at the World Cup, just two of the eight groups have been decided, and even those could come down to tiebreakers to determine who gets the stronger seed in the knockout stage. If two or more teams wind up tied on points, here’s how FIFA decides who finishes where:
a) best goal differential;
b) most goals scored;
c) points from head-to-head games between the teams involved;
d) if more than two teams are tied, best goal differential from matches between the teams involved;
e) most goals scored in all matches between the teams concerned;
f) fewest points deducted based on yellow and red cards received in all group matches, as follows: a 1-point deduction for a yellow card, a 3-point deduction for a red card issued as a result of a second yellow, a 4-point deduction for a straight red, and a 5-point deduction for a straight red issued after a yellow card.
g) drawing of lots by FIFA.”
The only time FIFA has ever drawn lots to break a tie in a group was at the 1990 edition in Italy, when Ireland and the Netherlands tied for second place in their group. The Netherlands wound up third, but both teams had already advanced under the 24-team format in place at the time.