As in 2018, Roberto Martinez’s Devils scored a 9 out of 9 in the group stage. What to ensure the first place and a protected status, on paper, for the round of 16.
But in fact, there will be several disruptive elements for this round of 16. It will be played in Seville, this Sunday, June 27, at 9 p.m. The weather and the terrain of Seville could be a brake on the good game since the lawn of the Olympic stadium, very dry, has been the most criticized since the start of the Euro. And the weather forecast on Sunday, with temperatures close to 40 degrees and still above 32 degrees at 9 p.m., could also frighten the Devils.
Roberto Martinez’s staff, and in particular video analysts, will have to wait until Wednesday evening to start studying the opponent. Because we will not know for sure before that. As we know, the best four thirds will be drafted in the round of 16 (this was also the case for Portugal, final winner in 2016) and it is against one of them that Belgium will play its next match.
Qualified Switzerland, a good deal for the Devils
By relegating Finland to third place in the group with a negative goal average, Belgium indirectly qualified Denmark but also … Switzerland. In the ranking of the best third, the Swiss are indeed ahead of Ukraine and Finland, which already guarantees them a place in the next round.
The Devils have also done themselves a service as qualifying the third in group A allows them to drastically reduce their chances of facing the third in the group of death in the round of 16. Indeed, the fished nations will be distributed according to the groups from which they come. And among the 15 initially possible scenarios, we can erase the five which concerned an elimination of the third of group A (Switzerland). Four of these five scenarios sent the winner of Group B (Belgium) to face the third of Group F (probably France, Germany or Portugal). In short, Belgium no longer has a 5 out of 15 (33%) chances of facing a tenor in the round of 16, but only one in ten. Are you still following?
Barring a cataclysm, the third of group F will remain ahead of Finland and Ukraine in the ranking of the best third and we can therefore also remove, without taking too much risk of being wrong, the four scenarios which exclude the third of group F to not leave than the six most likely scenarios. And if we want to project a little more, we can focus on the scenarios in which the third in group B is eliminated, since Finland, with three points and a goal average of -2, is in a disadvantageous position.
There are then only three possible scenarios. One would oppose the Devils to the third of group F, the famous group of death, and the other two concern group E (Sweden, Slovakia, Spain and Poland). With Spain to be avoided at all costs, especially in front of its audience in Seville …