Group Permutations – Julian Barker

Julian Barker looks at what England need to do against France in order to remain at EURO 2013 a while longer.

Regardless of personal opinions over team selection and performance, one fact is indisputable – England will almost certainly have to beat France to have any chance of qualifying for the knock out stages of Euro 2013.

Almost certainly because there is a slim chance and a very slim chance that a draw against France could be enough, but that is reliant on too many other factors.

The big plus in England’s favour is that they will know their task and how many goals they will need to score and/or win by before the take on the French. Another plus is France’s already assured qualification for the quarter-finals. Will they rest key players and give some of their squad some match action? Whatever their line up, that is their prerogative.

Writing before the last set of games in Groups A and B, it would be a major surprise if both those groups did not have their top trio of teams on 4 points minimum, but if at least one and preferably both the wooden-spoon encounters were to end in low scoring draws,

it would give England an extra chance in being able to afford to draw against France – as long as and it is not something one would not want to bank on, Russia did not beat Spain. For, a Russian win would elevate them above Spain and mean England would have to beat France.

Draws in both Denmark v Finland and Netherlands v Iceland would simplify England’s task to a win being sufficient to progress.

England’s three goals for so far are potentially quite valuable. Winning games is easier than having to win games by a minimum margin or by scoring a minimum number of goals as history has shown time and time again.

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