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Greece eying results in other Nations League groups

Greece eying results in other Nations League groups

Greece will look to finish as one of the best second placed teams in League C, which will increase their chances of snagging a EURO 2020 qualifying playoff spot come March 2020. Although things look bleak, AGONAsport’s Sarantos Kaperonis looks at what results in the other League C groups would favor Greece going into the final matchday of the first ever UEFA Nations League.

Watch Greece's final game in the UEFA Nations League at home to Estonia on Sunday, November 18th. Details here.    

As previously explained on Saturday, Greece’s final Nations League match against Estonia is extremely important as the Ethniki will look to solidify second spot in Group 2 of League C. A win or a draw will do for the Ethniki against the bottom dwellers on Sunday’s match at the OAKA stadium in Athens. Second place in the group will put Greece in a better position ahead of EURO 2020 qualifying as under certain circumstances, could give Greece a ticket to the qualifying playoffs in March 2020. See full explanation in link above.

Greece’s goal is to be as highly ranked possible amongst the runner-up sides from League C, which will increase the Ethniki’s chances of snagging a qualifying playoff spot. Seeing that League C has four groups, three groups with four teams and one group of three teams, the results against the fourth placed teams (affects only three of the groups) are throw out to even the playing field. In Greece’s situation, the results against Estonia (bottom of the group) are thrown out when considering the ranking amongst the group runner-ups. Thus, Sunday’s result will not affect Greece’s ranking amongst second placed teams.

In additional to earning a possible place in the EURO 2020 qualifying playoffs, Greece will hope to finish as one of the top two runner-up nations within League C ahead of the EURO 2020 qualifying draw. The seeding of teams for the draw will depend on the teams’ rankings within the Nations League. If Greece finish as the first or second best runner-up, they will be placed in Pot 3 for the EURO 2020 qualifying draw, whereas finishing as the third or fourth placed runner-up side, will mean Greece will be placed in an unfavorable Pot 4 for the qualifying draw. The draw is scheduled to take place on December 2. More information on that also in the link above.

That being said, Greece’s point and goal differential totals in the runner-up rankings is solidified. Greece sit with six points (2 wins and 2 losse) and with a -1 goal differential (two goals scored and three against). The results on the final matchday from the other League C groups will determine where Greece will rank amongst second placed teams since Greece’s total cannot change (6 points, -1 goal differential).

Currently, Greece are the third best second placed team within League C. Below are the standings going into the final matchday:

  1. Bulgaria: 7 pts, +1 goal differential, 4 goals scored (4 games played)

  2. Scotland: 6 pts, +5 goal differential, 7 goals scored (3 games played)

  3. Greece: 6 pts, -1 goal differential, 3 goals scored (4 games played)

  4. Romania:3 pts, 0 goal differential, 2 goals scored (3 games played)

*To see the tie-breaker criteria see the link above.

Here is a look at each group within League C and what results would be beneficial to Greece

Group 1 (Standings & Analysis)

  1. Israel: 6 pts, +2 goal differential (3 games played)

  2. Scotland: 6 pts, +5 goal differential (3 games played)

  3. Albania: 3 pts, -7 goal differential (4 games played)

First and second place will be acquired by Israel or Scotland who meet up on the final matchday in Glasgow. Albania will mathematically finish third. Since this group only has three teams, all the results from the group matches will be used for the ranking of second placed teams.

It looks very unlikely that Greece will be able to surpass either Israel or Scotland in the runner-up rankings. For this to happen one of two things need to happen:

  • Scotland will need to defeat Israel on the final matchday by four or more goals that way Israel’s goal differential moves to -2, below Greece’s -1. A three goal Scotland win will not suffice (Israel would have a -1 goal differential) due to Israel’s higher tally of goals forced (the next tie breaker), currently at four, surpassing Greece’s three goals forced.

  • Israel to defeat Scotland by seven goals or more which would put Scotland at a -2 goal differential.

A draw between the two teams on the final matchday will put both teams ahead of Greece regardless of which team finished second in the group. Both scenarios above seem extremely unlikely and thus, the second placed team from this group will very likely finish ahead of Greece in the runner-up rankings.

Group 3 (Standings & Analysis)

  1. Norway: 10 pts, +3 goal differential (5 games played)

  2. Bulgaria: 10 pts, +2 goal differential (5 games played)

  3. Cyprus: 5 pts, -2 goal differential (5 games played)

  4. Slovenia: 2 pts, -3 goal differential (5 games played)

First and second place will be acquired by either Norway or Bulgaria. On the final matchday, Bulgaria host Slovenia and Norway travel to Cyprus. Slovenia will mathematically finish bottom of the group regardless of the final matchday results. Since this group has four teams, all the results from the last placed team, Slovenia, will be discarded when ranking the runner-up sides amongst the League C groups.

For Greece to finish ahead of Group 2’s runner-up side, Norway must finish in second place in the group behind Bulgaria. Since Bulgaria have 7 points in the runner-ups standings, Greece’s six points cannot overcome their neighbors to the north. When ranking the runner-ups sides, Norway currenly have six points, a +2 goal differential, and 3 goals forced. Thus for Greece to finish ahead of Group 3’s runner-up side, the following needs to happen:

  • Cyprus must defeat Norway by three or more goals and Bulgaria will need to win, draw or lose to Slovenia by one goal. A Cyprus win by three goals will bring Norway to a -1 goal differential and the tie-breaker with Greece will come to number of goals forced. If Norway manage to score in Nicosia, Cyprus will need to defeat Norway by four or more goals.

Like in Group 1, this scenario seems extremely unlikely as the Ethniki will need a huge win by their brother nation, Cyprus.

Group 4 (Standings & Analysis)

  1. Serbia: 11 pts, +4 goal differential (5 games played)

  2. Romania: 9 pts, +4 goal differential (5 games played)

  3. Montenegro: 7 pts, +2 goal differential (5 games played)

  4. Lithuania: 0 pts, -10 goal differential (5 games played)

Greece will need Romania or Montenegro to finish second in the group to surpass the runner-ups from Group 4. Serbia host bottom ranked Lithuania while Romania travel to Montenegro on the final mathday. For Greece to finish ahead of Group 4’s runner-up, the Ethniki simply needs:

  • Montenegro to defeat or draw Romania. A Romania win will put them ahead of Greece in the runner-up rankings.

Looking at the scenarios above, Greece will likely finish as the the third best runner-up side in League C behind Israel/Scotland and Norway/Bulgaria, unless either Scotland (v Israel) or Cyprus (v Norway) record explosive victories on the final matchday. This puts Greece down the ‘waiting list’ for a place in the EURO 2020 qualifying playoffs and even worse, will mean Greece will be pushed down to Pot 4 for the upcoming EURO 2020 qualifying draw.

 

by Sarantos Kaperonis

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