Explained: the complex table that is crucial for the European Championship continuation of the Red Devils

Money-time! Now that the group stage at the European Championships is entering the last match day, the spots for the 1/8th finals are being divided. One (complex) table will play a crucial role in this. And may be vital for the further course of the tournament for the Red Devils. We explain them to you.

More than ever, it is counting on this European Championship. In addition to the numbers one and two from each group, the 4 best thirds may also participate in the 1/8th finals. They will in any case compete against the group winners of groups B, C, E and F.

Group B is that of the Red Devils, who need one point against Finland to become group winner. But what exactly determines the next opponent at this European Championship in that case?

Well, the table below provides the answer to that question.

At first glance it seems like a complex mix of the first 6 letters of the alphabet, but the explanation is relatively simple.

The decisive factor is who the best 4 thirds are. This is primarily determined by the number of points collected. In the event of a tie, the goal difference, the number of goals scored and the disciplinary balance will count consecutively.

From which 4 groups the lucky ones come will determine the layout of the 1/8th finals. Two examples:

  • Suppose the 4 best thirds from groups A, B, C to D come:

The table above shows that group winner B will then play against the number 3 from group A, group winner C against the number 3 from group D, group winner E against the number 3 from group B and group winner F against the number 3 from group C.

  • Suppose the 4 best thirds from groups B, C, D and E come:

Then group winner B will play against the number 3 from group E, group winner C against the number 3 from group D, group winner E against the number 3 from group B and group winner F against the number 3 from group C.

Support for Switzerland?

The chance for the Red Devils is also greater to encounter teams from certain groups.

In 5 of the 15 possible combinations, the Red Devils will meet the third from group E (with Spain, Poland, Sweden and Slovakia).

And 5 of the 15 combinations pair the third in the heavy group F (with France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary) to the Red Devils. But those options could almost all be lost if Switzerland wins against Turkey tonight – possibly becoming one of the best thirds.

In a possible quarterfinal, there is a good chance that a duel between Belgium and Italy in Munich is on the program. But then both countries have to win their group and survive the 1/8th finals.

The chance is one in three that the Red Devils will meet the number 3 from group F in group F: currently that is Portugal.

What if the Red Devils still become 2nd?

Of course, the above scenarios only apply if the Red Devils become group winners. Suppose things still go completely wrong against Finland, then the world will look completely different.

In that case, Belgium will meet the number two from group A in Amsterdam: that is currently Wales, but can also become Switzerland. In a possible quarterfinal, the opponent would then be the Netherlands (if they survive their 1/8th final).

On paper, that seems like a much easier path towards the final. National coach Roberto Martinez, however, already made it clear that it is not the intention to deliberately lose against Finland.

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