CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — While teams from the Americas have largely flourished, Europe could have its lowest representation in the second round of the World Cup since the current knockout format was introduced in 1986.
With one round of group games to be played, as few as three of Europe's 13 teams could be in the knockout stages.
Ahead of Monday's matches, only the Netherlands and Belgium are guaranteed to reach the second round after winning their first two games. However, only a remarkable set of results will prevent France from joining them after its two convincing victories.
In the seven World Cups since 1986, Europe's representation in the second round has been 10 in no less than five tournaments.
The exceptions were the nine recorded in 2002 in Japan/South Korea and six in 2010 in South Africa, where Europe still provided three of the four semifinalists and both finalists in the Netherlands and Spain.
Here's how things look for European sides across the groups after two games:
In Group A, Croatia has a chance but will probably have to beat Mexico to progress. A draw would only be enough should Brazil lose to Cameroon.
In Group B, the Netherlands has already qualified following its victories over Spain and Australia. Spain, the defending champion cannot qualify after its back-to-back defeats.
In Group C, Greece has a chance. It will have to beat Ivory Coast and hope Colombia maintains its 100 percent record by defeating Japan. If both Greece and Japan both win, it will go down to goal difference.
Continue reading this story on the...