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Why Ireland fans need to pay attention to these Euro fixtures tonight

Martin O’Neill will be keeping an eye on a variety of games over the next few days.

Updated at 15.35

Group A:

GroupAFinal

Latvia v Kazakhstan

Netherlands v Czech Republic

Turkey v Iceland

THIS IS A long-shot, considering just how poor the Dutch have been and how many snookers they require to make it to the play-offs.

They need to beat Czech Republic in Amsterdam and hope Turkey lose at home to Iceland. Anything else and they are out.

Kazakhstan Netherlands Euro Soccer Memphis Depay and his Dutch team-mates are hoping for a miracle this evening. Source: Alexey Filippov/AP/Press Association Images

Now, Turkey are not just chasing a play-off spot. Again, it’s a long-shot but they’re the only side that can still mathematically challenge Hungary for the best third-placed spot.

For that to happen, they need a win and hope basement side Kazakhstan get three points in Riga.

But, we wouldn’t like that. As of right now, Hungary have a higher coefficient than the Republic of Ireland so their presence in the play-offs would push us down the list.

Group B:

GroupB

Cyprus v Bosnia and Herzegovina

Belgium v Israel

Bosnia played themselves into a play-off spot with a win over Wales, as Israel crumbled when the pressure was on.

Bosnia Andorra Edin Dzeko's Bosnia have played themselves into play-off contention. Source: Amel Emric/AP/Press Association Images

They lost at home to Cyprus and that result looks to have destroyed their hopes of qualifying.

Bosnia do face a tricky away fixture in Nicosia, with the hosts also chasing third-spot.

Israel, meanwhile, are in Brussels to face the group leaders.

Victory for the Cypriots makes things especially interesting. Should they make it to the play-offs, they’d replace a high seed. So, if the Irish are on the bubble, Bosnia’s removal from the equation could see us finish as a seeded team after all.

Group H:

GroupH

Malta v Croatia 

Italy v Norway

Both Norway and Croatia did what they had to do last time out, beating Malta and Bulgaria respectively to take everything to the final day.

Croatia Bulgaria Euro Soccer Luka Modric's Croatia could steal second-place from Norway on the final day and that would be great news for Ireland. Source: Darko Bandic/AP/Press Association Images

And this is beautifully poised.

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Both face into away fixtures. Norway are in Rome to take on the group leaders but a draw won’t suffice because if Croatia win in Malta, their head-to-head is better than the Norwegians.

So, to be sure, Norway need to beat Italy to secure second place.

The play-off picture

Five teams are confirmed: the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Slovenia, Sweden and Ukraine. 

That leaves three spots.

Turkey (yes, the Dutch could *still* make it to the play-offs) also appear to have a place sewn up though there’s a very slight chance they could still finish as the best third-placed team.

In Nicosia, it’s a winner-takes-all clash. You would tend to bet on Bosnia‘s experience getting them through, though it’s set to be a nervy encounter against Cyprus. The result of that tie could have a major effect on where the Republic of Ireland finish up in the play-off standings.

Finally, though they currently occupy third place in Group H, Croatia will surely believe that the pressure will get to Norway in Rome.

So, seeding of those eight teams would look like this – based on the latest national team coefficients from June. The top four sides will be seeded, the bottom four unseeded.

1. Ukraine (Coefficient ranking: 10)

2. Sweden (Coefficient ranking: 14)

3. Denmark (Coefficient ranking: 18)

4. Bosnia (Coefficient ranking: 19)

5. Republic of Ireland (Coefficient ranking: 23)

6. Norway (Coefficient ranking: 26)

7. Slovenia (Coefficient ranking: 27)

8. Turkey (Coefficient ranking: 28)

Other notable teams still involved in play-off picture and their coefficient ranking:

Netherlands (4)

Croatia (9)

Hungary (21)

Israel (29)

Cyprus (40)

If these eight teams make the play-offs, Martin O’Neill’s side would be unseeded and would face one of Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark or Bosnia over a two-legged tie.

Soccer - UEFA European Championship Qualifying - Group D - Poland v Republic of Ireland - National Stadium Jonathan Walters will miss the first-leg of the Republic of Ireland's play-off tie due to suspension. Source: Tony Marshall/PA Wire/Press Association Images

For Ireland to be seeded in Sunday’s draw in Nyon, three of the following must happen:

  1. Croatia to beat Malta and Norway to fail to win away in Italy, thus ensuring Norway and not Croatia end up in the play-offs.
  2. Cyprus to beat Bosnia in Nicosia, thus ensuring Cyprus and not Bosnia end up in the play-offs.
  3. Turkey to draw (but not win) at home to Iceland, thus ensuring that Turkey and not Netherlands end up in the playoffs whilst also ensuring Turkey do not overtake us in the rankings.

The draw takes place at 10.15am Irish time, while the play-offs will be played from 12-14 November and 15-17 November.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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