Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.
England head into their final game in Group D on Tuesday night and, contrary to everybody’s pre-tournament hopes, they find themselves needing a win to secure the top spot against surprise leaders Czech Republic.
However, just like in 2018, the topic of potential paths to the final has reared its ugly head and we now have some rather interesting permutations to discuss.
Option 1: England win & finish first
This one is simple. A win over the Czech Republic would take England to seven points, three points clear of their opponents and securing them first place in Group D.
But the waters become muddy when you look ahead to the Round of 16. The top spot would see England come up against the runner-up in Group F, or as it’s more commonly know, the Group of Death.
Group F is pretty finely poised as well, with France leading the way on four points ahead of Germany and Portugal who are both on three. Hungary aren’t even out of the running after their shock draw with the World Cup 2018 champions.
Portugal are the most likely of the three to end up in second place as they face France in their final group game, while Germany are expected to beat Hungary to secure passage through to the knockouts.
Option 2: England draw & finish second
For some, a draw against Czech Republic would be the ideal scenario. It would guarantee the runner-up spot and pit England against the runner-up in Group E.
There is a chance this could backfire, though. Group favourites Spain are currently third in Group E after drawing their opening two games. A win against Slovakia would take them to five points but that wouldn’t be enough for the top spot should Sweden beat Poland at the same time.
In any case, this seems a very short-term way of thinking. England – if they beat the Group E runner-up – would likely face the winner of the Group of Death in the quarter-finals.
Option 3: England lose & finish third
This outcome would require Scotland to overturn a three-goal deficit in goal difference against Croatia, so it’s safe to say this is a very unlikely scenario.
It would probably – and unsurprisingly – lead to the worst outcome for England fans. Four points is almost certain to see England through to the Round of 16 but then they would face either the winner of Group B (probably Belgium), the winner of Group E (Sweden, Spain or Slovakia) or the Netherlands.
So, what should England do?
I’m a firm believer that trying to plot a path to a major tournament final is a fool’s game.
Not only can it backfire, but if you want to win major honours you are going to have to face top-tier teams at some point.
England should, in my opinion, just go out there and try to win every game and restore some confidence both within the squad and within the fanbase.
As the Scotland game showed, however, that’s often much easier said than done.
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