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Explainer: What Ireland now need to do to qualify for Euro 2016

The Boys in Green face an uphill task after yesterday’s underwhelming display against Scotland.

group d

(Image via Uefa.com)

Remaining fixtures

4 September: Georgia v Scotland, Germany v Poland, Gibraltar v Ireland.

7 September: Poland v Gibraltar, Ireland v Georgia, Scotland v Germany.

8 October: Georgia v Gibraltar, Ireland v Germany, Scotland v Poland.

11 October: Germany v Georgia, Gibraltar v Scotland, Poland v Ireland.

IN LIGHT OF Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Scotland yesterday, the Boys in Green’s qualification chances appear remote at best.

A third-place finish and qualification via the playoffs seems to be Martin O’Neill’s men’s best chance now, and even that outcome is appearing increasingly uncertain.

With all due respect to Gibraltar and Georgia, it is now clearly a four-horse race for the three coveted Group D spots.

While it currently appears unlikely that Ireland will finish any higher than fourth, overcoming the odds and finishing in the top three is not yet an impossible task for the Boys in Green.

However, in order to achieve this improbable feat, Ireland will almost certainly have to do what they have managed just twice in the past 14 years — beating a team ranked above them in a competitive fixture over 90 minutes.

With Ireland currently two points behind Scotland in fourth, let’s imagine how the group will look factoring in the top four’s expected wins over Gibraltar in the fixtures to come…

Poland 17

Scotland 14

Germany 13

Ireland 12

Furthermore, while Georgia are surely capable of taking points off Ireland and Scotland (they would have drawn with the former had it not been for Aiden McGeady’s last-minute moment of inspiration), for the sake of this exercise, here’s how the group would look if all the qualification contenders beat them (while also taking into account the prospective Gibraltar results).

Poland 17

Scotland 17

Germany 16

Ireland 15

Consequently, the following fixtures will surely be crucial…

Germany v Poland (4 September)

Scotland v Germany (7 September)

Ireland v Germany (8 October)

Scotland v Poland (8 October)

Poland v Ireland (11 October)

Ireland will more than likely need to take at least three points from these matches and probably four. Despite drawing with the Germans on their soil, an away win in Poland seems the side’s best bet and even then, it would require other results to go the Irish team’s way.

It’s important to note that head-to-head records come into play ahead of away goals, so Ireland can’t afford to finish on the same number of points as Scotland, but they could finish level with Poland and qualify provided they beat Robert Lewandowksi and co when the two sides meet in October.

If Martin O’Neill’s men beat Poland, they could qualify third if the Poles lose both their away matches against Germany and Scotland — two scenarios that are eminently possible.

A win over Poland coupled with a draw at home to Germany would give the Irish team an outside chance of finishing second, if Germany beat both Poland and Scotland, and the latter two teams draw when they meet on 8 October.

And of course, two wins in the aforementioned key matches would see Ireland virtually assured of automatic qualification, but on the evidence of yesterday’s underwhelming display, even considering that possibility seems fanciful in the extreme.

‘A Championship team in international shirts’ – the Scottish media reaction to yesterday’s game>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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