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PERMUTATIONS: HOW DRAWING LOTS MAY DECIDE FATE

Q. WHAT DO ENGLAND NEED TO DO TO GO THROUGH?
A.A win would guarantee their progress to the last 16, although not necessarily in first place. England could theoretically scrape through with a draw, but they would need Algeria to hold USA to a draw – and then it starts to get complicated.

Q. HOW COULD ENGLAND GET THROUGH WITH A DRAW?
A.In short, only with a very high-scoring draw. In the event that England and USA both draw then Slovenia will top the group, leaving Fabio Capello’s men and the Americans tied for second on three points. Goal difference would be equal, having both drawn three games, so it then comes down to goals scored. Currently, USA have scored three goals to England’s one, so in order to pip them the Three Lions would need to draw 3-3, at least, and hope Algeria hold Bob Bradley’s men to a goalless draw.

Q. AND IF WE ARE LEVEL WITH USA ON GOALS SCORED?
A.Should England draw 2-2, and USA draw 0-0, then, incredibly, all will be decided by drawing lots. The draw would take place at Soccer City in Johannesburg this afternoon, within about an hour of the final whistle.

Q. HAS DRAWING LOTS EVER BEEN USED BEFORE?
A.No team has ever been knocked out of the tournament by drawing lots, although the system was used in 1990. Holland and the Republic of Ireland finished tied behind England, but both went through to the knockout stage as in those days the four best third-placed teams also advanced.

Q. CAN ENGLAND WIN THE GROUP, AND DO THEY NEED TO?
A.If they beat Slovenia, yes. But if USA also win then Capello’s men would need to triumph by a greater margin to pip them on goal difference. Topping the group in theory affords an easier draw, but with Group D so tight, it may make little difference. Old rivals Germany could end up second, and therefore facing the Group C winners.