Euro 2016: Who will Northern Ireland face if they reach the last 16?


Ahead of Northern Ireland's final Euro 2016 Group C game against Germany we wanted to work out how likely they were to make it to the next round and who they might face.

Uefa's system of best-performing third-placed teams and tie-breakers is a nightmare, so we got our data team to build a model that works it all out for us.

Using an average of the latest bookmakers' odds for each of the remaining matches, we simulated the rest of the group phase tens of thousands of times to see where each team in Group C and beyond was most likely to end up.

Graphic showing who Northern Ireland are likely to face in the last 16

And the answer is, Northern Ireland will probably get through and they will probably face France.

Michael O'Neill's side cannot finish any lower than third in their group - they're three points ahead of bottom side Ukraine and their victory in the match between the two sides means they have a better head-to-head record, which is the tie-breaker should they be level on points.

They should be optimistic of progressing as one of the four best-performing third-placed teams, too. Unless they lose by more than three goals they'll finish with a better record than Albania (as they have already scored more goals), and then they only need one of the following three things to happen.

If Sweden (who haven't even had a shot on target yet) fail to beat Belgium, the Czech Republic fail to beat Turkey or one of Iceland and Portugal fail to win, then Michael O'Neill's side will make the cut.

DImitri Payet celebrates scoring for France
Dimitri Payet and France could lie in wait for Northern Ireland (Claude Paris/AP)

The system that works out which of the third-placed teams faces who is a complicated one based on which groups the teams come from, but trust us - it's highly likely to be France. There's also a small chance it could be Wales, which would be pretty exciting.

And of course, if we're feeling optimistic, there's even the chance they could beat Germany and finish second or even first in the group. Then Slovakia, Switzerland and Albania would come into the mix as possible opponents - but if that happens, we can't imagine they'll care too much who they play.