Monday, 20 June 2016

Euro 2016 State of Play: Albania's Chances

Albania's chances of reaching the knockout stages hang by a thread. Remember, only the top 4 third-placed teams will go through to the next round.

Note that if there is a tie in points, Goal Difference and Goals For in that order appear to be the tiebreakers.

Albania's prospects improve if:
  • Slovakia lose to England by more than 2 goals (possible but unlikely)
  • Northern Ireland lose to Germany by more than 3 goals (quite possible, but unlikely if NI park the bus which I am sure they will. Arguably from their point of view, probability is in their favour as all NI want to do is concede as few goals as possible - - - a draw would be nice but a 1-0 defeat seems OK)
These two scenarios seem more unlikely than likely to occur, so let's discount these to make this analysis easier. This is certainly an assumption I am comfortable with making, just going by the form of the teams in Groups B and C.


Any result in Group B (apart from Slovakia losing to England by more than 2 goals) will not, as far as I can see, affect Albania's chances as the outcomes of the matches will always result in a situation where the points of the third placed team from Group B remain higher than Albania which is already the status quo.

Ie. regardless of the outcome of Wales v Russia, either Wales or Russia will be on at least 4 points which does not help Albania.



The only key match in Group C is Germany v Northern Ireland which has been covered above. Second-placed Poland's match against already-eliminated Ukraine doesn't matter as Poland's point tally is on 4, well above Albania's 3.  Ukraine will always be last in the group no matter what - Ukraine lose to Northern Ireland on head-to-head record,


So far, I have advocated in favour of ignoring the results of Groups B and C on the assumption that there will not be a goal fest.


Other Groups

Group E seems critical to Albania's chances. Albania will want the favourites to win their last matches.


Similarly, in Group F, Hungary and Iceland need to win their games.


1 match in Group D is also critical.



Albania's prospects decrease if:
  • Czech Republic win against Turkey full stop [This will leave 2nd and 3rd place on at least 4 points - higher than Albania's tally]
              OR Turkey beat Czech Republic by 2 goals or more.
  • Ireland win full stop (given this, the results of the Sweden v Belgium match will always leave one team in 3rd place on 4 points)
  • Sweden beat Belgium by 3 goals or less regardless of the Ireland result (this would cause Belgium to take up third spot who have a strong total and goal difference relative to Albania).
  • Portugal beat or draw to Hungary full stop (given this, any outcome of Iceland v Austria will leave one team in third place with at least 3 points with a better goal difference than Albania)

Conclusion

It seems extremely likely that Portugal will EITHER win OR draw to Hungary.

It seems unlikely that Ireland will win against an Italy who is yet to concede a shot on target!!!

It seems somewhat unlikely that Sweden will beat Belgium by 3 goals or less based on tournament rank and form (a 1-0 shock win is possible of course!).

It seems more likely than not that EITHER {the Czech Republic will beat Turkey} OR {Turkey will beat the Czechs by more than 1 goal} [both outcomes are bad for Albania].



If any 2 of the above 4 'conditions' are fulfilled, this will cause grief for Albania as that means 2 teams will overtake Albania.

Therefore it seems to me that Albania is more likely to not reach the knockout stages.


However, perhaps if there is one match that could change the balance, it would be a Turkey (1-0 or 2-1) upset or a draw to the Czech Republic which is arguably the most realistic possibility Albania could hope for.

Should this happen Albania are probably safe.

The other thing to consider is that Portugal have had a shocker of a tournament. Could Albania rely on them to lose? Maybe, but that would be hoping for too much.

Andre Lim

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