The Euro 2012 Funky Tie Breaker Rules

So here’s how things stood before today’s Group A games (Russia vs Greece,  Poland vs Czech Republic):

Russia  4pts

Czech Republic:  3pts

Poland 2pts

Greece 1pt

(win = 3pts, draw  = 1pt)

Now, Greece scored a late first half goal against Russia, and led 1-0.    So Czech Republic and Poland were in the interesting position of having to score to win and advance.  If they played to a draw, then, according to ESPN,  Russia would win the group and Greece would also advance. This is due to a bizarre tiebreaker rule that Euro 2012 has in place.  If Czech-Poland was a draw, and Greece beat Russia 1-0, then Russia, Czech Republic, and Greece would each have 4 points.  Then, the rule is that you look at how these three teams did in points against each other – ie, the results vs Poland are thrown out – in which case you’d see that Russia trounced Czech Republic (4-1) and lost to Greece (1-0), Greece lost to Czech Republic (2-1), making the final hypothetical standings:

Russia: 3 pts  4 goals for, 1 goal against

Greece: 3 pts: 2 goals for, 2 goals against

Czech Republic:  3 pts: 3 goals for, 5 goals against

so Russia and Greece would go through based on goal differential (cause it’s a 3 way tie).

So Poland and Czech Republic, once Greece had the lead, had to go for broke – must win to advance.  And yet, at the same time, Czech Republic couldn’t just go crazy, because if Russia managed to pull back and draw with Greece, then Czech Republic would be good with a draw of their own!   This is why the games are played simultaneously on the last day, by the way!

Anyway, Czech Republic scored against Poland, and now Russia was left out in the cold.   I found it interesting that Russia could go from winning the group, with the team they had just lost to (Greece) taking second, to finishing third just because Czech Republic scored a goal – but it’s a product of the funky tie-breaker system used by the Euro Cup.


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