Today I have a relatively short train journey taking me from Lviv to Kiev, only nine hours.
So I thought I could use the time to understand the rules UEFA have issued
to decide how group placings are decided in the event of teams finishing
level on points.
a) Higher number of points obtained in the matches played between the teams
OK, I understand this and know this system is used in leagues in Europe, in
the U.K. we are used to using goal difference first, and then goals scored.
As a) is clear why do we need,
b) Superior goal difference resulting from the matches between the teams in
c) Higher number of goals scored in the matches played between the teams in
If there were two teams then it would not apply, but if there were 3 or even
4 teams it could come into effect.
Ok, so far.
d) If, after having applied criteria a) to c), two teams still have an equal
ranking criteria a) to c) are then reapplied exclusively to the matches
between the teams in question to determine the final rankings.
It is beginning to make sense.
e) superior goal difference in all group matches
f) higher number of goals scored in all group matches
So these two are the ones that I personally am used to, and would have been
a) & b) in the past.
g) position in the UEFA coefficient national team ranking
h) fair play conduct of the teams (final tournament)
i) drawing of lots
So, it is quite simple after all.
A slight rewording to a), adding in the event of three or more teams
finishing level on points, then it does become clearer.
My guess is that someone from UEFA was on a long journey and decided to have
Did you see that at the press conference before the Italy v Ireland game,
that there was a score of 2-2 projected on a screen for the Croatia v Spain
game, a result that would knock Italy out . So clearly there is at least one
person in UEFA with a sense of humour.
Maybe that same person had too much time to spend on a long train journey,
and created the new rules for their own personal amusement, and left them in
amongst a number of items due to be released to the press.
Now my journey isn't over yet so I thought I should finish the task that
they started, surely we could incorporate some of the statistics that are
produced for every game.
For example, shots on target, surely the team with the most shots on target
have been trying to provide the most entertainment.
In the past the number of corners, have been suggested as a means of
A new set of statistics shown at these games is the one that shows the
distance the players have covered. Now obviously each team would have to
employ a specialist just to ensure they understand these rules, South Africa
of course would need more than everyone else following their failure to
understand previous rules when they were happy to play for a draw thinking
they would qualify, when they actually needed a win.
Now if things were looking tight they could advise the goalkeeper to start
running around his area. This could leave him vulnerable to long range
speculative efforts, but provided his team can hang on to the ball at the
other end of the pitch then he could quickly build up the miles. The speedy
winger (who is on the bench as he consistently fails to deliver crosses to
his team mates) could be brought on to run up and down or even across the
pitch so that he doesn't get caught offside.
© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com