Group C teams played their last round clashes to wrap up the group stage and move either in the direction of Last 16 or towards their home… In case of this group three of the teams marched to the play-offs. First, let’s take a look at the table.
Group C has become an easy one for Germany and Poland. While playing a not saturated (some just call it boring) draw against each other, these teams were on a higher quality level compared to Northern Ireland and Ukraine. They did not show an outstanding football. To put it simple, neither of them conceded a single goal during the whole group stage. It is also obvious that they did not show 100% of their capacity preparing for the play-offs. Yes, no one will believe that World Champions did not have any clue against Poland, or could not score more than one against Northern Ireland.
By the way, Northern Ireland, the manager of which has admitted there are around 40 professional football players in their country, has made its way to the Last 16, being the first team to qualify with 3 points!
How did they do that? Well, they did not know they would qualify at that moment. Later on yesterday, Turkey won, becoming the second team (after Albania) to have 3 points with a goal difference of -2. Northern Ireland have accumulated 3 points with no goal difference. They watched out their defense strictly, managing to concede only once from each favorite. They succeeded, as the main part of their defensive shield was firm enough; Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern can be announced the Player of the Group!
He has featured in all three games, conceding less than a goal per game. Moreover, he has made 15 saves overall, 8 of which against Germany. He has shown NO LOSS of concentration during the whole 270 minutes of his play. Frankly speaking, if not for those saves, Northern Ireland would have had a worse goal difference index and, who knows, they might have failed to qualify. Can he also be announced the Most Influential Player of the Group? Decide by yourself…
Ukraine became the first (and only) team to finish the group stage with no points! They became the first not to score during the group stage and to have -5 goal difference, which is the worst so far. Did Ukraine show a horrible football? Not really! Were they not ready for the European Competition? Absolutely! Sometimes teams are not ready to compete at this level! Ukraine should gain experience and come back!
Now, Germany and Northern Ireland will wait for their pairs being revealed, while Poland will face Group A’s second Switzerland.
To conclude, in Group C everything was decided by the goal difference. Germany heads just because they have +3, which is better than Poland’s +2. Northern Ireland is in Last 16 just because they watched their own goals. This is a real answer to the ones who want to see more of open football in Euro-2016! In the Euros every single goal’s value is too high!