Today is one of the worst days in a major tournament: the day the three-games-per-day schedule is no more, reminding us all that the tournament must soon end, and that the glorious bubble is deflating. Group A concludes tonight with France/Switzerland and Romania/Albania, and with the strange structure of the competition, every game could potentially have an impact upon Ireland.
So if you are asking yourself what do Ireland need to do to qualify for the last 16, read on.
The most likely scenario in which we qualify for the last 16 is us finishing 3rd in our group on four points, having beaten Italy. Four of the six teams who finish third in their groups will go through with the two teams with the poorest records of those six heading home. Here are how those teams stand at the moment:
Sweden are currently ahead of us on goal difference, so we need to beat Italy and hope that Sweden don't do the same to Belgium. Assuming we do that, then it is time to start hoping the sides who might finish third end up with the lowest points total possible.
France are already through, and Switzerland will join them in second place should they avoid defeat and/or Romania fail to beat Albania.
Basically, the best case scenario from an Irish point of view is a draw between Albania and Romania. This will leave Romania third, on two points, meaning an Irish win against the Italians will mean we are guaranteed to finish in the top five of the table above, at the very least.
A win for Albania would be fine also: it will give them three points, meaning the result Ireland need against Italy will be good enough to better their points total.
The worst case scenario is one that involves seeing Switzerland slipping into third place. This will happen if they lose to France and Romania beat Albania, involving a swing of three goals. This will see Switzerland in third place, and the only scenario in which Ireland could be ranked ahead of the Swiss is if we can make up the goal difference between us both (currently standing at four goals).
So then, a nice, insomnia-curing 0-0 between Albania and Romania, please.