Odds for six groups up for grabs in Euros
As the penultimate round of Euro 2012 qualifying begins on Friday, six groups have yet to crown a winner. Germany, Italy and defending champion Spain have clinched the top spot in their respective groups. Netherlands has clinched at least the best runner-up position, which ensures entry into the final tournament, but has not secured first place in Group E. Here's a look at the Friday scenarios and future odds for the six groups still up for grabs.
Friday scenario: Russia clinches Group B with a win at Slovakia and an Ireland tie/loss at Andorra and an Armenia tie/loss versus Macedonia.
With four countries still in contention for the top spot, Group B is relatively the most wide open. Russia (17 points) and Ireland (15 points) are the favorites, because they still face group minnow Andorra, and, of course, the points advantage over Armenia and Slovakia (14 points each). Russia has the tiebreaker over Ireland thanks to a 3-2 win in Dublin, and therefore wins the group in 84 percent of Soccer Power Index simulations, while Ireland finishes second in 79 percent of sims. Neither Armenia nor Slovakia finishes in the top two more than 5 percent of the time.
Friday scenario: France clinches Group D with a win versus Albania and a Bosnia-Herzegovina loss versus Luxembourg.
France and Bosnia-Herzegovina are virtual locks to finish one-two in this group. The order should be determined by their Tuesday matchup at Stade de France. Assuming both teams win on Friday, Bosnia-Herzegovina must beat France to win the group. France is currently a 91 percent favorite to win the group, because SPI rates Les Bleus a 90 percent favorite to win or draw Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Friday scenario: Netherlands clinches Group E with a win/tie versus Moldova OR a Sweden tie/loss at Finland.
Netherlands officially wins the group with a point against Moldova at home, which SPI says will happen 99.2 percent of the time. Sweden clinches the runner-up spot with a win in either of its final two matches (at Finland, Netherlands) or a Hungary loss versus Finland. Overall Sweden has a 79 percent chance to finish second, with Hungary finishing runner-up in the remaining 21 percent of simulations. Sweden would lock up no worse than the best runner-up spot (and the automatic berth) with wins in its final two matches.
Friday scenario: Croatia clinches Group F with a win at Greece.
Croatia currently leads Greece by one point with two matches remaining, including Friday's game in Athens. SPI gives Greece only a 32 percent chance to win this match. For the final matches, Greece travels to Georgia -- after a home draw earlier in the cycle -- and Croatia hosts Latvia. Overall, Croatia is a 76 percent favorite to win group.
Friday scenario: England clinches Group G with a win/tie at Montenegro.
England, Montenegro and Switzerland are all still alive in Group G. England and Montenegro each control their own destiny in terms of winning the group, though the latter has an uphill climb. According to SPI, England has an 89 percent chance win the group on Friday. To finish first, Montenegro must defeat England and then topple Switzerland on the road, where Montenegro is given only a 7 percent chance to win. Putting the numbers together, England is a 98.7 percent favorite to win the group. Switzerland and Montenegro each finish 2nd in 50 percent of simulations.
Friday scenarios: none.
Three countries are tied with 13 points for the group lead, though Portugal and Denmark have a big advantage with a game at hand on Norway. The winner of Friday's Denmark-Portugal match will likely win the group. Denmark is a 29 percent favorite to win at home, with Portugal given a 38 percent chance to triumph. By virtue of a home win against Denmark, a draw would probably give the group to Portugal. Overall, Portugal wins the group in 64 percent of simulations, Denmark in 29 percent, and Norway in 7 percent. The runner-up race is even tighter, with Denmark finishing second in 42 percent of sims, Norway in 32 percent, and Portugal in 26 percent.