We’re into the final group stage fixture of this year’s UEFA Euro tournament. The only previous champions in the group (France) have already qualified. Normal rules dictate that only the two best teams would qualify, but this year it’s a little bit different. The first two teams after all the group stage games have been played still qualify - but there’s hope for a lucky loser. That’s right - if the third-placed team in Group A ranks in the top 4 3rd-placed teams across all 6 groups, they too can enter the round of 16! With France already nicking a spot, that’s going to be music to the likes of Albania & Romania, who’re about to exit.
This is how the table stands as we speak - France on 6 points are automatically through. Switzerland have 4, so a win would guarantee their progression - but a loss would put them in the “suspended losers” hat! Romania have only picked up one point, so they need to win or hope that Switzerland lose - just to stand a chance. Albania are in dire straits, and absolutely must defeat the Romanians - nothing else will do.
Let’s take a look at the final 3 fixtures and how they’re going to shape up in the dying days of the European Championship finals’ first round!
France vs Switzerland
The two favourites have duly delivered, as the French struggled but eventually beat Romania before nicking a late, late double against the resolute Albanians. Switzerland, however, are teetering between second and third - which could still mean an early exit. How will this fixture affect both teams?
If the French win, they’ll have picked up 9 points - a bonus 3 points before they face their last-16 opponent. It’ll be a good chance to test out their subs and hope that the likes of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann pick up form prior to that.
For Switzerland, this will put them in a very precarious position. They will drop to second, but if Romania win against Albania they’ll be third. That’s also dependent on the goal margin - i.e., if they lose by a 2-goal margin they’ll directly go to third (on a Romanian victory). If Romania beat Albania by a 2-goal margin, then they’ll also be third. Their destiny will no longer be in their hands.
A draw here would ensure progression for both sides - regardless of the other fixture’s final score. It’s the best result for both teams, but to be honest nobody wants to watch an international friendly. This tournament has had enough stalemates!
If Switzerland win, then they will have 7 points and top the group ahead of France. Their qualification for the last-16 will have gone very smoothly, and they’ll be looking good. France will only lose some pride & fitness - they’ve got nothing riding on this game.
Romania vs Albania
The group’s two minnows have been beaten by the top two teams. However, they’re not done yet - their performances prove that. Romania can still qualify as second or as third, whilst Albania can just about throw their hat into the ring for the best 3rd-placed side. It’s a real knockout tie, this one!
If Romania win, they’ll be level with the Swiss on 4 points. If Switzerland can’t pick up any against the hosts, France, then they’ll go through as second - provided they win by 2 or more. If they win by the slimmest margin, then they’ll go into the lucky losers’ pot. For Albania, this will be a 4th loss on the bounce and an immediate early exit.
On the contrary to our previous match, this is the worst result possible - for both teams. If they draw, Romania will have 2 points, and they’ll go into the 3rd-placed teams pot but with very little hope. Albania will have 1 point - which is the last they deserve for some good defending and late heartbreaks. However, it will mean they wave goodbye to their first European Championship finals at the first round.
If Albania win, then they’ll have 3 points - putting them into the 3rd-placed pot. This result could see them make history as the first Albanians to qualify for a European finals knockout round. It will also condemn the Romanians to an exit with only 1 point, as the group’s worst team.
|Possible points table||Romania beat Albania||Romania and Albania Draw||Romania lose to Albania|
|France beat Switzerland||France-9, Romania-4, Switzerland- 4, Albania-0||France-9, Switzerland- 4, Romania-2, Albania-1||France-9, Switzerland- 4, Romania-1, Albania-3|
|France draw with Switzerland||France-7, Switzerland- 5, Romania-4, Albania-0||France-7, Switzerland- 5, Romania-2, Albania-1||France-7, Switzerland- 5, Albania-3, Romania-1|
|France lose Switzerland||Switzerland- 7, France-6, Romania-4, Albania-0||Switzerland- 7, France-6, Romania-2, Albania-1||Switzerland- 7, France-6, Romania-1, Albania-3|
Things are very finely poised, as 3 teams try to fit into 1 (and a half) spot. The 3rd- best team will be dependent on results across all 6 groups, and the 4th will be gone. Romania and Albania will duke it out, with Romania aiming to bump the Swiss (who’re up against the group’s best team) out of their hard-fought second spot. In turn, Albania want to squeeze the Romanians out of their 3rd-spot - it’s dog-eat dog in the UEFA Euro 2016! There will be some fireworks - let’s just hope that they’re not on the pitch!