- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

PARIS (AP) - UEFA’s competitions director does not fear teams colluding to produce favorable results in the final round of European Championship group games.

Speculation about “biscotto” games - where a certain result suits both teams - is a concern at most tournaments, but could be an extra risk with the 24-team format at Euro 2016.

Teams playing on Wednesday will be able to work out how finishing first, second, or third in a group will decide their opponent in the round of 16.

Still, UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti said Monday there is “little room for speculation” at Euro 2016.

“We think we are pretty safe because there is a need by many teams to win,” Marchetti said. “I am not overly worried.”

UEFA expanded its marquee national team event from 16 teams to a 24-team format where only four of the six third-place teams advance to create a natural tournament bracket.

A five-step tiebreaker process ranks the third-place teams, including Albania, whose Group A program finished Sunday but must wait until at least after the early-evening games on Tuesday before knowing its fate.

The soccer term “biscotto” - the Italian word for cookie or biscuit - got wider understanding after Euro 2004 when a 2-2 draw for Denmark and Sweden meant both advanced and eliminated Italy.

“I have heard about biscotto since I was born,” said Marchetti, who is Italian. “It is not the fault of the 24-team format.”

Amid speculation that a bigger Euro 2016 would reduce the quality and drama of games, Marchetti said the tournament was a “positive surprise” so far.

“All the groups are open, but some of them are really open to any solution,” he said. “For us it is an extremely positive note and we’re very happy.”

Fewer goals have been scored, with only 47 after the first 24 games, compared to 60 goals at the same stage of Euro 2012, and 57 goals four years earlier.

“It is a significant decrease in goals but there are some other interesting things, too,” Marchetti said, noting games were tighter and being decided by late goals.

“In seven matches the result has changed in the last 10 minutes,” he said. “If more goals means more matches ending in 4-0, 4-1 … I don’t know what people like the most.”

Marchetti said UEFA had not discussed making the tournament bigger to a natural bracket of 32 teams from its 55 member federations.

“There has been no talk so far to expanding to 32 teams,” he said, noting that the 15-month qualifying program had to be kept interesting. “The bread and butter of national teams is qualifiers.”

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