Here's why some groups in Euro 2016 will have an unfair advantage over others 6 years ago

Here's why some groups in Euro 2016 will have an unfair advantage over others

When it comes to the Euro 2016 draw, you would think all teams have to worry about is who they are drawn against.

But the letter of the group they are drawn into could have a much bigger effect on a team's ability to go far in the tournament than who they are paired with at the initial stage.

Advertisement

Writing in The Irish Times, Andy McGeady points out that the draw is set up to favour host nation France - and not just because they play at home.

The Euro 2000 champions have automatically been placed in Group A, and therefore face the easiest path to the semi-finals on paper.

France Euro 2000

Advertisement

The expansion from 16 teams to 24 means that the simple symmetry of previous tournaments has been lost. Where there used to be four group winners meeting four runners-up in the quarter-finals, there is now a messy second round of 16 teams.

This means all six group winners and runners-up will be joined by the four best third-placed teams. A quick glance at this shows that the numbers don't really add up, as two group winners will have to face two runners-up while the rest of the table-toppers take on a third-placed team.

So if you are drawn in Group F, then there is no real incentive to top your group as both first and second place will meet a runner-up from another group.

But Group E is the worst pool to be drawn into as the winner faces Group D's runner-up while second place in Group E has to take on the winner of Group F.

Advertisement

confused gif

It's all a little confusing, and only gets more complicated (and unfair) when you look at the quarter-final draw. If the winners of either Group A or D overcome their third-placed opposition in the second round, then they are guaranteed to face the runner-up of another group in the quarter-finals.

With the way the qualification for the tournament has gone, there are no guarantees that a group winner will beat a third-placed team (the Republic of Ireland picked up four points from two games against Germany, for instance), but things certainly do look easier for whichever teams win Groups A and D and particularly tough for the members of Groups E and F.