For the first time in European Championship history, all four teams are level on points within a group going into the final round of fixtures. But who needs to do what in Group E? And what does the Opta supercomputer make of it all?

We’re at an impasse. After the first two matchdays of Euro 2024, Group E is deadlocked, with every team currently on three points. Only three goals separate Romania (yes!) in first and Ukraine in fourth.

If that sounds tight, it’s because it is. Historically tight, in fact.

That’s because this is the first time in European Championship history that all four teams in a specific group are level on points going into the final matchday.

In fact, even at the FIFA World Cup, a group stage has only seen all four sides finish level on points just once in the history of the tournament. It occurred in Group E (spooky) at the 1994 World Cup, which ended up producing this masterclass:

World Cup 1994 Group E

In that scenario, three of the four teams ended up qualifying, and that looks like it’ll be the case in Euro 2024 this year.

Let’s step back for a moment, though. It was never meant to be this close. We went as far as calling this one of the ‘easiest’ groups in our Group E preview, confidently stating:

“Tedesco [has] been dealt a pretty nice hand. With Slovakia and Romania, Group E is the only group of Euro 2024 to contain two countries ranked outside FIFA’s top 40 men’s team rankings. As such, his charges are given a very healthy 90.0% chance of qualifying for the last 16, and a 53.1% likelihood of topping the group.”

Oops, that’s one we’d like to take back.

But that’s in the past. What about looking ahead?

With Matchday 3 looming, here’s how those numbers have changed. Below that, we go through the qualifying permutations for all the teams involved.

Euro 2024 Group E Permutations
Projections as of 23 March

The good news for all these teams is that each of them have genuinely excellent chances of progression.

At the time of writing, Ukraine (60.8%) have the lowest chance of qualifying for the last 16, but even that probability is higher than eight other teams still in the competition.

The bad news, of course, is that not all four teams can qualify. We could have a scenario where a team is eliminated with four points, purely by the fact they finished in fourth place. Ouch.

The permutations are complicated, but we’ve done our best to summarise what each team needs to happen on MD 3.

As a reminder, Romania play Slovakia and Ukraine are up against Belgium.

Romania (83.6% chance of qualifying):

With all four teams tied on three points, Romania are currently top over Belgium courtesy of goals scored. They will guarantee their place in the top two by avoiding defeat to Slovakia.

Romania will top the group (26%) with victory if Belgium don’t beat Ukraine.

In the case of two draws, Romania will finish first if they score more goals in their game than Belgium.

Edward Iordănescu’s would be eliminated from the competition if they lose and Ukraine win or draw.

Belgium (82.6% chance of qualifying):

Domenico Tedesco’s side will be guaranteed a top-two spot if they avoid defeat to Ukraine.

Belgium will win the group (35.6%) if they win and Slovakia do not beat Romania, or if both games are drawn and Belgium score more goals than Romania in their respective games.

The Red Devils can still be knocked out if they lose and Romania avoid defeat.

Slovakia (67.7% chance of qualifying):

Slovakia will automatically qualify for the last 16 with a win over Romania. They’ll finish third if they draw, which will almost certainly be enough to go through.

Given they shocked Belgium on MD 1, if Slovakia win and Ukraine do not beat Belgium they’ll seal top spot in Group E.

They can be eliminated if they lose to Romania and Belgium avoid defeat to Ukraine.

Ukraine (60.8% chance of qualifying):

Beat Belgium and Ukraine will seal qualification for the last 16 as one of the top two teams. If they do that and Romania fail to beat Slovakia, then they’ll top the group.

Sergiy Rebrov’s side will finish third if they draw their game, and the other game is not a draw. Four points in that case would again likely be enough to qualify.

If both games are drawn, Ukraine will finish bottom. They’ll also come last if they lose and Slovakia avoid defeat.

Got it? No, us neither.

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