The last round of group stage matches starts today, with the last two matches in Group A–meaning that we’ll have our first two quarterfinalists by the end of the day. It also means the day’s two matches are played simultaneously. So get your picture-in-picture ready–or put one on your TV and stream the other on your computer. Or better yet, head to your local footy-friendly watering hole–we’ll try to watch at least one of the next few days at our local spot, WoodworkBK.
The match to watch today is Czech Republic-Poland. Poland will be playing in front of a partisan home crowd in Wroclaw, while Czech captain and playmaker (and Gunner) Tomáš Rosický (“the Little Mozart of football”, as we detailed in an extended postscript to this post) is doubtful following an Achilles tendon injury suffered against Greece. So Poland are perhaps the favorites–but they have yet to win a match, and the pressure will be on them. For Poland the focus and onus will again be on the Dortmund trio–attacking right back Łukasz Piszczek, right-sided midfielder (and captain) Jakub (“Kuba”) Błaszczykowski, and striker Robert Lewandowski. In addition, goalkeeper (and another Gunner) Wojciech Szczęsny returns after a one-game suspension for the red card he received in the opening match against Greece.
In the other match, Russia, a team that has impressed, should beat a Greece side that hasn’t. But the Russians have a reputation for losing interest and focus–and remarkably Greece would advance with a win. For Russia the standout performers have been captain Andrei Arshavin (still on Arsenal’s books, but went back to Mother Russia in January on loan to his home club of Zenit St. Petersburg) and youngster Alan Dzagoev–who is, as Eastern European football expert Jonathan Wilson writes today, finally meeting Russia’s expectations.
See below for Group A standings and today’s fixtures (via UEFA.com), and below that a scenario analysis (via wikipedia) of which teams advances in each of the 9 outcomes (3 possible outcomes in each of the 2 matches implies 3^2 = 9 possible outcomes). Although it’s even more complicated than that, as certain of those scenarios bring into play goal differential (the first tie-breaker).
In fact, it appears that not only do all four teams have a chance to advance, but that each of the six 2-team combinations is still a possibility. No wonder betfair.com writes: “I’m not too sure who will be more interested in the final round of group matches in Groups A and B: football fans or mathematicians. To say things are tight is an understatement. To say they’re complicated is a fair statement.”
|Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE) – Stadium: National Stadium Warsaw, Warsaw (POL)|
|Referee: Craig Thomson (SCO) – Stadium: Municipal Stadium Wroclaw, Wroclaw (POL)|
Scenario analysis via UEFA Euro 2012 Group A – Wikipedia:
If: Czech Republic win draw Poland win Greece win Czech Republic; Greece Greece and Russia or Czech Republic1 Poland; Greece draw Czech Republic; Russia Russia; Czech Republic Russia and Poland2 Russia win Russia; Czech Republic Russia; Czech Republic Russia; Poland
- Positions determined by score of Greece v Russia
(a) Russia; Greece – if Greece win by 1 or 2 goals
(b) Greece; Russia – if Greece win by 3 to 5 goals
(c) Greece; Czech Republic – if Greece win by at least 6 goals
- Poland win the group if they win by at least 4 goals (3 if they score at least 4 more than Russia); otherwise Russia win the group
- ^ Peter Katsiris (13 June 2012). “UEFA EURO 2012: The Math behind Group A”. Football Hellas. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- ^ “Euro 2012 Diary: Mathematicians to work out who qualifies from Groups A and B”. Betfair. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- ^ Johnson, Dale (13 June 2012). “Euro 2012 Group permutations”. ESPN. Retrieved 15 June 2012.