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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Ben Brady/INPHO The Irish team (file pic).
# Explainer
How Ireland could still qualify for the Euros even if they finish bottom of their group
Stephen Kenny’s side were handed a tough draw, with Netherlands and France the favourites to progress.

IRELAND WERE handed a daunting task on Sunday in their bid to qualify for Euro 2024.

The Boys in Green were paired in a group alongside Netherlands, France, Greece and Gibraltar.

Two teams qualify automatically from the group, with Netherlands and France strong favourites to fill those slots.

However, Ireland can theoretically end up losing every single match in their group and still qualify for the Euros.

The Euro qualifies will only decide 20 of the 23 teams that reach the tournament alongside hosts Germany.

12 teams who miss out on direct qualification for the Euros will compete in the playoffs.

How the 12 teams are decided will be based on their performance in the 2022-23 Nations League.

These teams will then be divided into three paths, each with four teams, with one team from each path qualifying.

The group winners of Nations Leagues A, B and C will automatically qualify for the playoffs if they miss out on direct qualification for the Euros.

So for example, in Ireland’s group, both Greece and Netherlands are already guaranteed a playoff place if they don’t qualify automatically.

If the Nations League group winner has already qualified, then they will be replaced by the next best-ranked team from the same league that has not automatically qualified.

So to put it simply, the more higher-ranked Nations League teams that qualify for the Euros automatically, the better the chance Ireland have of securing a playoff spot if they don’t qualify automatically.

So take a hypothetical scenario where the top two seeded teams qualify from every group, Ireland would be in the playoffs due to their Nations League ranking.

As it stands, Ireland are ranked 26th overall in the Nations League rankings.

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So it’s bad news and lessens the chance of a playoff spot if teams below them, such as Romania (29th) or Sweden (30th) qualify automatically for the Euros.

You can view the rankings in full here.

The fixture list was confirmed earlier today, with Ireland beginning their campaign at home to France on 27 March and concluding it away to Netherlands on 18 November.

The playoff games will take place in March 2024, just three months before the tournament proper kicks off.

Stephen Kenny will of course be hoping to qualify from the group automatically but can take some solace in the fact that there is the potential option of a backdoor route also. 

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