Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 20th 2016 Contents A39
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PARIS---Third place and you re out.
That s the way it used to be.
For the past 20 years, teams that
finished in the top two places of a
four-team group at the 32-nation
World Cup or 16-nation European
Championship advanced to the
A simple procedure that everyone
could understand. But one dropped
for Euro 2016, which has been
expanded to 24 teams. Getting to the
round of 16 means the clear formula
of the past two decades has been
ditched. Third place and now you ve
got a chance because the best four
of those teams at Euro 2016 will go
through this time.
The final Group A matches took
place yesterday when France played
Switzerland and Romania lost to
Albania. Albania ended up in third
and has to hang around until
Wednesday before knowing if it gets
through or goes home.
The teams from Groups E and F,
playing on Wednesday, may have an
advantage by knowing exactly which
kind of result they will need to play
a particular opponent in the next
round. There are scenarios that teams
would rather place third and qualify
than second because it may mean
playing an easier opponent. Not since
1994 in the United States has either
the World Cup or the European
Championship worked like this. Here
are some things to know about the
The first three steps in a five-stage
tiebreaker process are clear.
Points total is the first resort. After
two group games, it appears that any
third-place team with four points
will almost certainly advance, and
those with three have a strong chance,
too. Next, it goes down goal differ-
ence. A plus number should be deci-
sive. Then it comes down to goals
scored. In such a low-scoring tour-
nament---games are averaging fewer
than two goals through Saturday---
any team with four goals could well
have an advantage.
If teams still can t be separated, it
gets trickier. Fair play record is the
fourth tiebreaker---basically, judging
teams by how many yellow and red
cards their players got in the three
group games. If that fails to separate
at least two teams, then the ultimate
decider is their place in the UEFA
national team rankings.
Who will they play next?
UEFA will not know the round of
16 lineup until Wednesday evening,
but the match schedule is already
A matrix of potential outcomes---
which looks like a high school math
problem---long ago decided which
teams emerging from which groups
would play which group winner next.
So if the four best third-place
teams come from groups B, C, E and
F, they will respectively play the win-
ners of groups C, B, A and D.
All clear?: History lesson
History shows that Euro 2016
teams will need a win and a draw
from their three group games to be
almost certain to advance.
That is what happened for the
third-place teams at the previous 24-
In 1994, no tiebreaker was needed
because the four---Argentina, Belgium,
United States and Italy---had a point-
advantage over the other two third-
It s basically a result of UEFA s
presidential election in 2007 when
Michel Platini beat long-time incum-
bent Lennart Johansson.
reward national federations who
voted for him, and shore up future
votes, Platini pledged to invite more
of UEFA s now 55-strong membership
to Europe s biggest national team
A further upside is that more teams
mean more matches---51 instead of
31 in the 16-team format---and more
broadcasting revenue. It also means
more fervor in countries whose teams
have not played at a major tourna-
ment for a long time---or ever, in Ice-
land s case.
The third men
...or who will advance from Euro groups
Referee Damir Skomina shows a yellow card to France's Laurent Koscielny
during the Euro 2016 Group A soccer match between Switzerland and
France at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d'Ascq, near Lille, France,
yesterday. AP PHOTO
SAINT-ETIENNE---Hundreds of Eng-
land fans pierced the tranquility of
Saint-Etienne yesterday, a day before
their team s European Championship
game against Slovakia.
But French riot police maintained a
distance, avoiding any intervention with
the boisterous---rather than disorder-
Flags of St George emblazoned with
clubs names from throughout the Eng-
lish leagues were hung from the side
of buildings in the Place Jean Jaures, a
large square in the city in southeastern
The anthems that follow England
teams around the world could also be
heard--- from traditional soccer chants
to songs evoking World War II and
against the Irish Republican Army.
As the beer was downed---and thrown
in some cases---red smoke filled the air
at times outside one bar.
More than 1,100 police officers will
be deployed in the Saint-Etienne area
and 51 soldiers will be mobilised to
guarantee security around England s
match with Slovakia.
Some 839 privately-hired security
agents are also helping to monitor fans.
PARIS---When you re as big a pres-
ence as Cristiano Ronaldo, it s hard
to hide in the shadows when it starts
going awry on the field.
Ronaldo rarely does.
The three-time world player of
the year hasn t been short of scoring
opportunities at the European Cham-
pionship. The problem is that the
Portugal captain has had 22---but
missed every one.
He even missed a penalty against
Austria on Saturday just weeks after
he won the Champions League with
Real Madrid from the spot.
Ronaldo---for years one of the most
lethal marksmen---blasted his spot-
kick at the post.
It was one of 11 Ronaldo misses
in the 0-0 draw, a repeat of the num-
ber of chances squandered in Por-
tugal s Group F opener when he com-
plained Iceland was overly defensive
in the 1-1 draw. "I m disappointed
because I feel good physically," Ronal-
do said after his record 128th Portugal
appearance on Saturday. "I missed
a penalty, but that s football. I m sure
we ll be able to improve the standard."
More specifically it s about Ronaldo
regaining the stellar goal-scoring
standards that have served both Por-
tugal and his club sides so well for
more than a decade.
Aside from his problems from the
penalty spot, Ronaldo has also lost
his touch from free kicks. It was hard-
ly surprising he didn t score from his
two free kick efforts against Austria
given that he hadn t found the target
from his previous 34 for Portugal at
And Ronaldo missed other clear
chances too, whether from his head
or his feet. His anguished expressions
and sighs to the sky showed the Aus-
trians were achieving their objective.
"That was our target---to get him
out of his dangerous zone," Austria
defender Sebastian Proedl said. "If
he is getting frustrated about this we
are doing our job."
At times, the 31-year-old Real
Madrid forward has appeared like a
fading force in the sport he has graced
for the best part of a decade in a
personal duel for silverware with
Barcelona and Argentina rival Lionel
Messi. Were it not for his winning
penalty in the Champions League
final against Atletico Madrid, Ronal-
do s display was largely forgettable.
He still contributed 51 goals for
Real Madrid in the recently completed
last season and was the second-high-
est scorer in the Spanish league.
But some of his displays over the
year appeared lethargic---perhaps a
natural symptom of a player the
wrong side of 30. The speedy runs
through opposition defenses are now
only witnessed in short bursts.
But since Ronaldo is the only
superstar in the Portuguese ranks,
the team still feels obliged to play
through him---even when teams like
Austria are denying him space.
"He is free to roam," Portugal coach
Fernando Santos said ahead of Sat-
urday s game. "He needs to break
through opposition lines. That is why
he is free."
There has been speculation recent-
ly that Ronaldo may leave Real
Madrid, possibly for Paris Saint-Ger-
main as a replacement for the now-
departed Zlatan Ibrahimovic. PSG s
home is the Parc des Princes---the
same ground he missed all those
opportunities on Saturday. One con-
solation for Ronaldo is that other
big-name European strikers are hav-
ing similarly frustrating times in
France. Ibrahimovic, the Sweden for-
ward was top scorer in France last
season but has also failed to score in
the first two rounds. Ditto for the
Bundesliga s top scorer, Poland s
Robert Lewandowski, and the Pre-
mier League s number one, England s
Ronaldo s footballing prowess far
exceeds that trio, none of whom have
come close to winning the Ballon
D Or. But continue playing like he is
for Portugal and Ronaldo won t be
collecting many more personal acco-
Ronaldo has another chance
against Hungary on Wednesday to
show he is still at the peak of his
If he doesn t convert his chances
then, Ronaldo and Portugal could be
taking an early trip home from France
He s unlikely to shirk from the
Ronaldo searches for scoring touch after 22 misses
English boisterous but not disorderly in Saint-Etienne
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