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 in question.
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 question.
c) Higher number of goals scored in the matches played between the teams in question.
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 some fun.
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 deciding games.
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
Euro 2012 Lviv