2020 Women’s European Handball Championships (Group I Scenarios): How Russia, France and Denmark can Advance to the Semifinals

Only three teams (Russia, France and Denmark) can still advance from Main Round Group I.  Two of these three teams will advance while the other will play for 5th place.

Main Round Group I Standings (Prior to Final Match Day)

On Tuesday, France will play Sweden first and then Denmark will take on Russia. Here are the 9 different possible outcomes for the combination of results for those 2 matches:

Main Round Group I Scenarios

Scenarios to Make the Semifinals

Here is what each nation needs to do to advance to the semifinals:

Denmark: Denmark has to beat Russia in order to qualify for the semifinals.

France: If France wins or draws vs Sweden they will qualify for the semifinals. If France loses to Sweden they can still qualify if Russia beats Denmark or the Russia-Denmark match is a draw. They can even still qualify if Russia loses to Denmark, but it is a mathematical improbability. (See note below)

Russia: If Russia wins or draws vs Denmark they will qualify for the semifinals. If Russia loses to Denmark they will still likely qualify if Sweden beats France. (See note below)

What About 1st Place and Avoiding Norway?

Norway has looked very strong and has already won Main Round Group II. This means finishing first in the Group and avoiding Norway in the semifinals is highly desirable.

There are multiple scenarios, but Russia is in the strongest position as they are likely to win any tiebreakers with France. France is in the next strongest position as they win any tiebreakers with Denmark. Finally, Denmark does have one possibility for finishing first: Demark beating Russia and Sweden beating France

A side note on a mathematical improbability*

Russia and France are level on points and played to a 28-28 draw earlier in the competition. This means that should they finish level on points the first tiebreaker will be goal differential in all matches. Russia is currently +14 and France is +5. This means that if both France/Russia lose or both France/Russia win, France would have to gain 10 goals on Russia in the matches played. While this is possible given the teams playing it seems unlikely that much ground could be made up. Additionally, Russia playing second would know exactly what margin they would need to maintain a goal differential advantage.