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Tomorrow is the day of truth for all 3 of the 4 Group C teams.  And for that other team that seems to crush everyone (Holland), this day will be huge.  Whoever the Dutch end up finishing ahead of is very important because they could end up playing that same team one more time in the Semi-Finals.  The reason I feel that the Dutch really have to watch it is simple.  For an example, I will use the NFL.  Do you remember when the Giants played the Patriots at the end of the regular season?  The Giants came out and then didn't back down to the Pats.  Even though the Pats won the game, the Giants put all kinds of pressure on them and in doing so they proved to themselves that they were a great team and this ultimately this led them to the Super Bowl.

Now, this Holland/Romania match is very much like that situation.  If I remember correctly the Pats started all of the stars, so if the Dutch do start their stars they may be setting themselves up for trouble.  I'm telling you now that it doesn't matter who you are and who you have attacking because the Romanians are very very good on defence and they are tough to break down.  With Razvan Rat controlling the right-side attack, you might as well not even try on that side.  That is how good the guy has been playing.  Now in my opinion the Dutch really should rest the big guns.

There are a couple of reasons that I would do this:

1. You need to be ready for the Quarter-Finals and if you aren't you're going to be embarrassed by Sweden or Russia.

2. The Dutch have one of the best teams total depth wise.  They are one of the biggest teams in this tourney and they really aren't that much worse coming off the bench.

If they do decide to start the reserves I think it turns into a game that the Dutch pretty much don't care what happens in.  Let's be honest the Dutch would probably like to knock two rivals out in France and Italy and then let Romania go through.  This is one of the biggest decisions in soccer.  If it was the World Cup, this wouldn't be as important.  But it's the European Championship and you may have to play one of these teams come Semi-Finals time. 

Most of you know that before the tourney I predicted that Romania would come in 4th place and that the Dutch and Italians would move on leaving out the French.  Now that the matches have almost been played all the way, I just have to think that Romania are going to come out of this.  This team is one of those teams that really loves the game of football and they truly play it the right way.  Do you know how you play the game the right way?  You play for the result that you need and want and you play the game with everything you have.  Two examples of this are:

1. Before the match even started, the Romanians just looked like they were up to the task of winning.  As one of the announcers said, "They sung with such gusto."  When you can tell a team is really living up the moment, it is a great thing to see.

2. Two Romanian players ran into one another and one had to be taken off the field.  With players hustling like that you just know that have something special going on and those players can feel it.

I'm not even going to lie, I'm rooting for Romania.  I feel if this team gets out of this group that they have what it takes to somehow win this tourney.  They have that special ability to do things.  They have the leadership (Christian Chivu), the stars (Chivu again and Mutu), they have the great defenders and a good keeper (Rat, Lobont, and company), and most importantly the rest of the team are a bunch or hard-workers living up their dream.  Is this team a Greece?  No this team is a threat to everyone.  This is truly one of the best teams in the world and if they go through I'm not going to be surprised.  And once they get into the next round I really think they can run the table because of the great defence and their ability to attack quickly if needed. 


This next little bit of information is from ESPN Soccernet.  It tells you what each team needs to make it and tie breakers and such.

Holland's barnstorming displays against Italy and France mean they have already qualified as winners of the group. But it's far more complicated for second place between Romania, Italy and France.

For Romania the task is simple. If they pick up three points against what is likely to be a below-strength Dutch side they will be through. Romania and Holland were grouped together in qualifying with Romania taking four points from the two meetings.

If Romania lose they can only stay in the competition if France and Italy finish goalless, but even that has conditions. If they draw they need Italy and France to draw also.

Italy and France, as mentioned, must rely on Holland taking points off Romania. In that event the winner of the Italy-France match will go through.

Should Italy and France draw and Romania lose, then all three sides will be level on two points. The first decider is head-to-head, and when three teams are involved a mini-league is created. The results for the Netherlands are ignored.

As Italy have a goal difference of 1-1 and France 0-0, then France cannot overtake Italy in the event of a draw. Italy will always remain ahead of them on goals scored. So France have to win to stand a chance of reaching the quarter-finals - any other result and they are out.

If Italy and France draw 0-0 and Romania lose, then Italy and Romania will have identical records in the three-team mini league. It will then go down to goal difference. If Romania lose by fewer than three goals they will qualify.

If Romania were to lose by more than three goals then Italy would finish second. If they lose by three goals it will be decided on goals scored. A 0-3 defeat will mean they have an identical scoring record of 1-4 with Italy, so the positions would be decided on co-efficient. Italy's co-efficient is 2.36 and Romania 2.25, so under the 0-0/0-3 scenario it would be Italy who go through.

However, if Romania lose by three goals at a ratio of 1-4 or greater then they would finish second by virtue of goals scored.

Clear? Basically, If France and Italy draw 0-0 Romania have to lose by fewer than three goals or 1-4 and upwards by ratio.

Now, if France and Italy draw 1-1 or any greater number then Italy will go through as they will have scored more goals than France or Romania in the three-team mini-league.



I hoped you liked it.  Let me know what you think.  It's been Keeper and I'm out.


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