On paper, Group E seemed straightforward before Euro 2020 began. As we head into the final set of fixtures, it is anything but.
Not many could have predicted that Sweden would be the first team to ensure qualification for round of 16 from this group, while Spain are in a tricky position heading into their last Group E game against Slovakia in Seville.
The 2008 and 2012 European champions have drawn both matches so far against Sweden and Poland. They need to win this time to be sure of reaching the knockout phase, although a draw would be enough to qualify as a best third-placed team, provided Poland fail to beat Sweden in Saint Petersburg.
At Euro 2016, Slovakia and Spain’s campaigns ended in the round of 16, Slovakia bowing out at the hands of Germany while Spain – who have reached every final tournament since Euro ‘96 and last missed out on the knockout stages in 2004 – were eliminated by Italy.
Sweden lead the way in the section with four points, having followed up their opening draw against Spain (0-0) with a 1-0 defeat of Slovakia, who are on three points. Spain are third with two points while Poland are a point further back, having responded to their 2-1 Matchday 1 reverse against Slovakia with a 1-1 draw in Spain last time out.
Slovakia are second in Group E on three points, one behind Sweden and one above Spain, who have drawn with Sweden (0-0) and Poland (1-1). Slovakia beat Poland 2-1 in their opening fixture but went down 1-0 against Sweden in their second.
Poland 1-2 Slovakia
Spain 0-0 Sweden
Sweden 1-0 Slovakia
Spain 1-1 Poland
Sweden vs Poland
Slovakia vs Spain
Group E as it stands
Status of qualified teams
|Group||Winners||2nd place||Best 3rd place|| Qualified|
(but position TBD)
The top two teams from each group qualify for the Round of 16. The classification of teams level on points within a group will be done as per regulations of the Uefa European Championship listed here.
The third-placed team in all the groups also have a chance of reaching the next stage if they are among the four best third-placed teams as per the table below when group stage matches are complete.
The rules of classification for third-place teams are as follows:
2) Goal difference
3) Goals scored
5) Lower disciplinary points total (red card = 3 points, yellow card = 1 point, expulsion for two yellow cards in one match = 3 points)
6) European Qualifiers overall ranking.
Overall standings of third-placed teams
Group E qualification scenarios
Sweden: The Swedes will be the most relaxed team on the night. They are through to round of 16 as four points is enough even for third-placed teams. Sweden will top the group if they beat Poland. If Sweden lose and the other game is drawn, then Sweden, Slovakia and Poland will be split for first to third place on results between the three teams (see below). If Sweden lose they finish third.
Slovakia: While they have a tough task on paper against Spain, Slovakia will feel good about their chances. They need a point to be certain of going through and will top the group if they win and Sweden do not.
Spain: Sure, this is not the greatest Spain team in history. There is inexperience across the squad but there is also talent enough to progress beyond the group stages. Failing to do that will be an embarrassment for a country that produces great footballers ever so often. Despite starting the night as third, they still have things under control. They will go through if they beat Slovakia. They will also go through if they draw and Poland do not beat Sweden.
Poland: A struggling Polish side will look to Robert Lewandowski again. The only result that will keep them alive is a win. Qualification will be guaranteed with four points but their position will be determined by other results. Poland could even finish first in the group if the other game ends in a draw.
If Slovakia, Sweden and Poland all finish on 4 points (ahead of Spain on 3 who will stand eliminated), they will be split on goal difference from matches between the three teams, though all will be through at least as a best third-placed team.
If Poland beat Sweden 1-0, and Slovakia draw, the order will be:
1 Slovakia, 2 Poland, 3 Sweden
If Poland beat Sweden 2-1, and Slovakia draw, the order will be:
1 Poland, 2 Sweden, 3 Slovakia (Sweden and Slovakia would be behind Poland on goal difference and to split the two their direct result, a Sweden win, would apply)
If Poland beat Sweden by any other one-goal margin, and Slovakia draw, the order will be:
1 Poland, 2 Sweden, 3 Slovakia
If Poland beat Sweden by two goals or more, and Slovakia draw, the order will be:
1 Poland, 2 Slovakia, 3 Sweden— via Uefa
Ukraine and Finland will be keeping a keen eye on the results in this group as their fate hangs in the balance of how teams finish in Groups E and F. More on that here.
(With Uefa and AFP inputs)