Whatever happened to good old fashioned goal difference?

June 16, 2008

Adrian Mutu gesturesFootball is a simple game so why do UEFA make the Euro 2008 groups so complicated?

The criteria for determining the rankings of teams who finish level on points are mindboggling.

Head to heads, mini-leagues of three teams, UEFA coefficents, fair play, drawing lots and even penalties after 90 minutes are all there. Plain old simple goal difference among every team in the group is only halfway down the list in terms of priority.

Goal difference among all teams is used in most domestic leagues in the world and fans all understand it.

So why is it less important than head-to-head records in big tournaments?

Why should Romania be penalised if they concede fewer goals against Group C winners Netherlands than Italy and France did? 

Just because they didn’t score a goal against France, they will go out if they lose to the Dutch on Tuesday and Italy grab a scoring draw with the French. 

Penalties to separate tied teams in the last group matches is a fun innovation when goal difference can’t help. Otherwise goal difference from all group matches is the fairest and easiest method.

I hope Michel Platini is reading.

PHOTO: Adrian Mutu gestures during a Romania training session, St Gallen, June 14, 2008. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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