BotN: World’s top statistician begins work on permutations as Poland hold Russia

The Back of the Net gang cast an eye over Poland's entertaining 1-1 draw with Russia

A magnificent strike from Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski earned Poland a crucial point against Russia, creating a wave of euphoria across the co-host nation and bafflement among the statistical fraternity charged with working out all the possible outcomes of Group A.

Group A, widely known as the ‘Group of Dearth’, was always likely to be one of the tightest at Euro 2012 after Poland took full advantage of their right as hosts to choose their opponents.

And while the Poles initially seemed to have bitten off more than they could chew by picking Russia, a rocket from consonant-rich captain Blaszczykowski earned them a point in a lively encounter in Warsaw, leaving the group so evenly poised that one of the world’s top mathematicians has been called in to wrestle with the permutations.

On hearing about the situation developing in Group A, NASA statistician Astrid Heard immediately broke off from delivering incontrovertible evidence of the existence of life on extrasolar planet 16 Cygni Bb to help ITV establish all the possible outcomes of Saturday’s group deciders.

Heard is still in the early stages of his investigation, which he has described as ‘the biggest challenge of my career’ but it is believed that he has already found over 2,000 possible scenarios, none of which involve Greece qualifying for the next round.

“So far I’ve created a logarithm that allows us to see that the Czech Republic must beat Poland to qualify, but a draw will be enough if Russia win or draw against Greece,” Heard told

“From there we can extrapolate that Russia can qualify even if they lose as long as Poland draw with the Czechs. Greece can progress if they beat Russia, but the probability of that is so slim that even I, a mathematician of probability, have disregarded it.

“The one thing that does keep coming up in my research is that this situation can be avoided if you put at least one decent team in each group.”

ITV are said to have agreed a substantial fee with Heard in order to prevent a repeat of the 2010 World Cup when commentator Peter Drury spent the entire 90 minutes of England’s final group game against Slovenia running through a series of potential permutations, neglecting to commentate on any of the live action. To date, Andy Townsend is still unable to explain why England met Germany in the last 16.

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