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8 teams Ireland could face if they reach the Euro 2016 qualifying playoffs

The Boys in Green are currently in pole position to finish third in their group.

DESPITE RESULTS WORKING in Ireland’s favour yesterday, the Boys in Green face an uphill task to qualify for Euro 2016.

Martin O’Neill’s men are currently third in the group and that position still looks to be the Irish side’s most realistic route to qualification (more detail on what exactly Ireland need to do to qualify can be found here).

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To clarify, the top two sides from each group will qualify automatically, while the best third-placed team (determined after taking into account each side in question’s results against countries that finish in the top five of each given group) will also gain automatic entry to next year’s competition in France. As it stands, Albania are the best third-placed team, with Ireland six points behind them.

Consequently, eight teams will compete for four spots via the playoffs, with four of these sides seeded according to the national team Uefa coefficients.

Here are some of the teams Ireland could consequently play if they finish third in their group…

1. Netherlands

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Despite being group favourites and reaching the World Cup semi-finals just over a year ago, the Netherlands are currently in disarray and are struggling in their group. They sit third, six points behind Czech Republic. Unlikely to finish second, the Dutch must be careful that they aren’t by-passed by Turkey, who sit a point behind them in the race for third.

2. Israel

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With Wales guaranteed a place at the Euros if they win tomorrow, Israel may have to be content with third place, although Cyprus and Bosnia also still have an outside chance of finishing in the top three.

3. Ukraine

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Spain are expected to get their act together and earn a top-two spot ultimately, so Ukraine appear the most likely side to come third in Group C, with Slovakia virtually assured of qualification.

4. Slovenia

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As many as four teams could still finish third in this group, though Slovenia are currently in p0le position to claim a playoff spot.

5. Hungary

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With Northern Ireland needing just one win to qualify, and Finland unlikely to catch up, it appears either Romania or Hungary will have to settle for third spot in this group.

6. Russia

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With Montenegro not expected to prove a realistic threat, Russia seem best placed to claim the playoff place, though they could still displace Sweden in second.

7. Norway

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There is still much to play for in Group H, though the top three spots look all but decided, with Croatia, Italy and Norway set to battle it out for top spot.

8. Albania

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Currently the best third placed team, Albania may even retain faint hopes of winning this group, especially as they currently have a game in hand on second place Denmark.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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