Be honest. You didn’t know FIFA's tertiary tie-breaker was fair play points, a quantifiable way to assign points for the fewest yellow/red card infractions. After goal differential and goals forced, the extent to which a nation played nice in their first two matches was the deciding factor between going to the knockout rounds and, well, going home.
And for a 10 or 15-minute stretch yesterday afternoon, Mexico was doomed to this awkward fate, as they were level with Poland on goal differential and goals forced, but a 95th-minute strike from Saudi Arabia's Salem Al Dawsari sent El Tri packing on good old fashion goal differential, allowing Poland to join Lionel Messi and Argentina in the knockout rounds.
And today's slate of fixtures, the first World Cup fixtures to ever take place in December, promises more intrigue, so let's take a quick look at today's matches.
Croatia vs. Belgium
Kickoff: 10:00 EST/16:00 CET | Location: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al-Rayyan
How to Watch: Fox Network, Telemundo, Peackcock (United States); RDS 2, TSN2, TSN App, RDS App, TSN.ca (Canada); Other locations
Roma Interest: While I wish Kevin De Bruyne was employed by Roma, sadly, he is not, but there are several familiar Serie A faces in this match, including Mario Pasalic, Ante Rebic, Mateo Kovacic, and Ivan Perisic for Croatia, while Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku and our old pal Thomas Vermaelen will suit up and/or watch from the Belgian bench.
Canada vs. Morocco
Kickoff: 10:00 EST/16:00 CET
Location: Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
How to Watch: Fox Sports 1, Peacock, Telemundo, Sling, Fox Sports app (United States); RDS App, CTV App, TSN3, TSN4, TSN5, RDS, TSN.ca, TSN1, CTV, TSN App (Canada); Other locations.
Roma Interest: None to speak of, but Morocco does feature former Inter defender Achraf Hakimi, Fiorentina's Sofyan Amrabat, and the man who would have been king, Hakim Ziyech.
Japan vs. Spain
Kickoff: 2:00 EST/20:00 CET
Location: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
How to Watch: Fox, Telemundo, Peacock, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (United States); RDS App, CTV App, TSN.ca, TSN2, CTV, TSN App (Canada). Other Locations.
Roma Interest: Former Roma manager Luis Enrique remains at the helm of La Roja, who boast several veterans likely competing in their last World Cup, including Sergio Busquets, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Jordi Alba, among others.
Costa Rica vs. Germany
Kickoff: 2:00 EST/18:00 CET
Location: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
How to Watch: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports App, Peacock, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (United States); TSN.ca, TSN App, TSN5, TSN4, TSN3, RDS App, RDS 2, TSN1 (Canada). Other Locations.
Roma Interest: Antonio Rüdiger, who spent two years in Rome, has blossomed into a world-class player since leaving the capital and has become an integral piece for Germany, who can advance to the next round with a win over Costa Rica and a Spanish victory over Japan.
Enjoy today's matches!