There are, but if the group ends in a 2-1 tie or a 1-1-1 tie, it usually comes down to goal differential.
Here’s a story in the NYTimes about how they made it.
With North Korea suspended and the 2015 World Cup field expanded from 16 to 24 teams, including five from Asia, Thailand slipped into the spot many expected to go to the North Koreans and made its inaugural appearance in the tournament. Then it missed out on the knockout rounds only by the tiebreaker of goal differential.
Because North Korea was not seeded in qualifying for the 2019 World Cup, it faced an early showdown against South Korea, lost the match and found itself ineligible for a second time to compete in soccer’s global championship. Again, Thailand benefited.
Bigger problem is that the Women’s World Cup allows 24 teams, but most countries don’t have viable Women’s teams right now so there will be a few huge mismatches. I agree with you on the 10 goal mercy rule though…would make more sense.
I will also say that there is usually one big blowout every once in awhile in a World Cup, even on the Men’s side:
- (Women) Germany won 11-0 over Argentina in 2007 and 10-0 over the Ivory Coast in 2015
- (Men) Hungary beat El Salvador 10-1 in 1982
- (Men) Germany beat Saudi Arabia 8-0 in 2002
- (Men) Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup Semifinals in Brazil in 2014
- (Men) Yugoslavia beat Zaire 9-0 in 1974
- (Men) Hungary over South Korea 9-0 in 1954
And none of these compare to what happens in qualifying rounds…Australia once beat American Samoa 31-0 in 2001.