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# crunching numbers
Who could the Republic of Ireland face in the play-offs?
There’s still plenty of football to play but a picture is emerging of how the qualifiers will play out.

THE MORNING AFTER the night before.

When we gather our thoughts and try to figure out exactly what happened and what it all means.

The victory over Germany will rank as one of our finest days, certainly, but how does it translate to the qualification campaign?

Well, Martin O’Neill’s side can not count on a draw to automatically qualify because a 0-0 or 1-1 stalemate is of no use. It has to be a 2-2 draw or higher for the Irish to finish above Poland.

Of course, this is all on based on Germany beating Georgia (if they don’t, there will be plenty more number-crunching once again!) in their final qualifier.

But, if Ireland finish in third, what happens then?

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group D - Republic of Ireland v Germany - Aviva Stadium Brian Lawless / PA Wire/Press Association Images Brian Lawless / PA Wire/Press Association Images / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Well, there is one automatic qualification place for the best third-placed team but a draw or defeat to Poland ensures the Irish will miss out on that spot. Currently, Hungary are in pole position to make it to France next summer as the best third-placed side.

So, what if we don’t get a win or favourable draw in Warsaw? Well, it’s an eight-team seeded play-off for us. The seeding works based on the UEFA national team coefficient rankings. And, the draw will pit four seeds against four non-seeds.

Who can we face?

Group A:

Iceland and Czech Republic cannot be caught as the top two so it’s a battle between Turkey and Holland for the play-off spot. Two points separate the teams and though the Dutch have looked like an imitation of themselves recently, they face basement side Kazakhstan tomorrow night while the Turks are in the Czech Republic. So, heading into the final qualifiers, it could be Holland with their destiny in their own hands.

Turkey Netherlands Euro Soccer AP / Press Association Images Holland are struggling but are still in the mix for a play-off spot. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Group B

This seems a straight battle between Israel and Bosnia for the play-off place. But right now, the Bosnians need snookers. They’re two points away from third and take on Wales at home tomorrow night while Israel face Cyprus. So, should the Israelis win that game and Bosnia fail to win theirs, they’ll be confirmed as the third-place team.

Group C 

Right now, Slovakia or Ukraine can finish automatically or via a play-off. With two rounds left, Slovakia are three points clear and also face into an easier run-in. It seems Ukraine will finish third in Group C.

Group E 

It’s Slovenia and Estonia embroiled in the battle here – with Lithuania needing a miracle to remain in contention. But with the Estonians facing two really tough final games, the smart money would be on Slovenia finishing third.

Group F

Right now, Hungary are going to take the best third-placed automatic qualification place and won’t feature in the play-offs. That is subject to change though.

Group G

Russia, Sweden and Montenegro are all still fighting here but the Montenegrins need a magnificent and unlikely run-in to finish third. They need to go to Russia in their final game and get something, as well as beating Austria later tonight. Meanwhile, Sweden are away to Liechtenstein later and finish with a home clash against basement side Moldova. Logic says Sweden for third place.

Russia Sweden Euro Soccer Ivan Sekretarev / AP/Press Association Images Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to take the long way to next summer's tournament. Ivan Sekretarev / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

Group H

Croatia are currently in third and need to make up two points on Norway in the remaining fixtures to qualify automatically. But with the Norwegians playing away to leaders Italy next week, there is hope for the Eastern Europeans. Beat Bulgaria in Zagreb tomorrow night and hope the Azzurri can do them a favour on the final day. If level on points, Croatia will finish second based on their better head-to-head record. So, it could be Norway in the play-offs.

Group I

The only five-team group and Portugal are already confirmed as the winners. After losing to the Iberians last night, the Danes are now finished their campaign and have a really anxious wait to find out whether or not they’ll automatically qualify. Albania head to Armenia in a few days – a win will ensure them a place in France next summer and Denmark a place in the play-offs.

Portugal Denmark Euro Soccer Paulo Duarte / AP/Press Association Images Denmark face an anxious wait to see if they'll qualify automatically. Paulo Duarte / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

How play-offs could look:

Admittedly, there is some guess work here as some groups still have two fixtures left.

But, let’s say the following teams will make the play-offs:

Turkey, Israel, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark

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Based on the current co-efficient rankings (and they’ll be updated after the group stage too), here’s how the teams will be ranked:


1. Ukraine (Coefficient ranking: 10)

2. Sweden (Coefficient ranking: 14)

3. Denmark (Coefficient ranking: 18)

4. Republic of Ireland (Coefficient ranking:23)


5. Norway (Coefficient ranking: 26)

6. Slovenia (Coefficient ranking: 27)

7. Turkey (Coefficient ranking: 28)

8. Israel (Coefficient ranking: 29)

So, as of right now, Martin O’Neill’s side would be seeded should they make the play-offs. A two-legged affair against Turkey would be the one to avoid with Norway, perhaps, being the nicest draw.

Still, there’s plenty of football to play between now and then. A win in Poland makes everything a lot more simple.

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