Prior to the games on day eleven of Euro 2008 in the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgroup of deathÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ I thought I would look up the possible outcomes so that I would know who would qualify whatever happened in the two exciting games I was about to watch. The situation was interesting to say the least and I thought I should share it with you:
Holland have won Group C and will play the Group D runners-up in the quarter-finals.
Romania will qualify for the quarter-finals if they beat Holland, eliminating both France and Italy.
If Romania fail to beat Holland, the winner of France v Italy will go through.
If France and Italy draw, a point against Holland would be enough to send Romania through. France must win to have any chance of qualifying.
If France and Italy share a score draw (1-1, 2-2, 3-3 etc), Italy will go through if Romania lose (by any score). In this scenario, Italy, Romania and France will be level on two points each but Italy would have scored more goals in games between the 3 teams.
Romania will finish bottom of the group if they lose and France and Italy draw 2-2, 3-3 or 4-4. France will finish bottom if they draw 1-1 unless Romania lose 3-0 or by a four-goal margin.
If France and Italy draw 0-0, Romania can lose by one goal, two goals or by a three-goal margin other than 3-0 but still qualify. In this scenario, Italy and Romania would have identical head-to-head records, but Romania would have better goal difference in ALL group matches or, in the case of the three-goal defeats, goals scored. France would finish bottom, having scored fewer goals head-to-head v Italy and Romania.
If Romania lose 3-0 to the Dutch, Italy would qualify with a 0-0 draw against France because of their superior coefficient points. France would finish bottom as they would have scored fewer goals head-to-head v Italy and Romania.
If Romania lose by four goals or more and the other game ends 0-0, Italy would proceed with a better overall goal difference than Romania. France would finish bottom as they would have scored fewer goals head-to-head v Italy and Romania.
If France and Italy draw AND Romania avoid defeat, then Romania go through.
OK, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clear then! IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m glad I bothered to look it up! As the games kicked off I was still trying to work out what needed to happen but as it turned out it was all fairly simple.
Romania missed a fantastic chance to qualify by losing 2-0 to a Holland side showing nine changes from the win over France and Italy took the second qualifying place with a fairly straightforward 2-0 win over France.
Holland won their game with second half goals from Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Robin Van Persie. They qualify with nine points out of nine and remain one of the hot favourites for the title.
France had looked pretty poor in their two previous games and to be honest, if anything, they looked even worse in this one. Just eight minutes in to the game they lost Ribery, arguably their best player, to a nasty looking achilles injury. A difficult task was then made almost impossible when the disappointing Abidal playing at centre-half, got out of position and then brought down Luca Toni when he was in a goalscoring position, conceding a penalty and being rightly sent off.
Coming just some twenty-four minutes into the game this incident effectively ended FranceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s chances, particularly when Pirlo confidently dispatched the penalty.
How Italy went in at half-time only 1-0 up can only be explained by the fact that Luca Toni is rivaling GermanyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Gomez as the most disappointing striker of the tournament. He missed maybe six decent chances in the first half alone.
France gave it a decent go in the second half, forcing Buffon into one world class save, but it was no surprise when a second Italian goal arrived. A free-kick struck firmly by De Rossi was probably going wide before striking Thierry Henry and going into an empty net with the excellent Coupet stranded.
The game fizzled out with France just hoping for the final whistle to come. The Italians celebrated the final whistle as they knew they had Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgot out of jail.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
Neither side played well in this game and neither side have played well in the whole tournament. France are going home and Italy have lived to fight another day. If there is any justice, the Italians will only survive for one more game. They will face an impressive looking Spanish side who simply must have too much for this ageing team.
Having said that, Spain are perennial under achievers and Italy have a proven track record. It is by no means a foregone conclusion but everything suggests that Italy, who will be without the suspended Guttuso and Pirlo, will be following France home on Sunday evening.
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