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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 22 May, 2019

Explainer: Here's what the Irish team now need to do to qualify for Euro 2016

Martin O’Neill’s men’s win over Gibraltar, coupled with Scotland’s loss to Georgia, has opened the group up again.


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SCOTLAND’S SURPRISE 1-0 loss to Georgia last night has opened up Ireland’s chances of qualification from Group D considerably.

The Irish team’s hopes of progression had looked slim after they drew 1-1 with the Scots at the Aviva Stadium back in June, but last night’s results will have given the Boys in Green renewed optimism ahead of some crucial upcoming fixtures.

With three games to play, Ireland sit third in the group, though with games against Georgia, Germany and Poland to come, it’ll be far from plain sailing for the Boys in Green.

So, before we detail what exactly Ireland need to do to qualify, take a look at the remaining group games…

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

Without wishing to be too disrespectful to Gibraltar, it’s appearing seriously unlikely that they’ll pick up any points from this group on the basis of how they have performed so far. With that in mind, let’s imagine what the group will look like assuming the minnows lose their final three games.

Poland 17
Germany 16
Scotland 14
Ireland 12
Georgia 9
Gibraltar 0

Consequently, the following six matches will largely determine how this group pans out: Ireland v Georgia, Scotland v Germany, Ireland v Germany, Scotland v Poland, Germany v Georgia, Poland v Ireland.

So here’s how Ireland could qualify (assuming Gibraltar lose their remaining games)…

  • For a top three spot, they could afford to lose to both Germany and Poland, provided they beat Georgia, and Scotland also lose to both Germany and Poland. That set of results would see them earn a playoff spot by finishing third.
  • For a top two spot (which means guaranteed qualification for the Euros), Ireland could afford to lose to Germany provided they beat both Georgia and Poland. They would also be reliant on Scotland not losing at home to Poland, and picking up less than seven points in their final three games. 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 them when the two sides meet in October.
  • If Ireland beat Georgia, lose to Germany and draw with Poland, it would start to get a bit more nervy. It would mean Ireland could finish third at best, but they would also be relying on Scotland picking up no more than one point from their games against Poland and Germany.
  • If Ireland beat Georgia, draw with Germany and draw with Poland, they would again have to settle for third at best, while Scotland could overtake them by beating either Poland or Germany.
  • In the highly unlikely scenario that Ireland win all three of their remaining games, they would be guaranteed a top-two spot and would finish first if Germany drop points against either Georgia or Scotland.
  • If Ireland lose to Georgia, they would need an absolute minimum of three points against Poland and Germany, which would require the Boys in Green having 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. Should they pick up just three points, they would also be relying on Scotland losing against both Germany and Poland.
  • If Ireland draw with Georgia, they could finish third with a minimum of two points from the games against Poland and Germany, provided Scotland lose both their matches against the same two teams.

To put all of this in simple terms, Ireland need to equal or better Scotland’s results in the final three sets of fixtures to be effectively guaranteed a top three spot (assuming Georgia don’t take seven points or more from their final three games, which could potentially complicate matters). Given that one of Scotland’s games is Gibraltar, Ireland’s task is not as easy as it initially sounds, and means the Boys in Green almost certainly need at least one win from their final three games to have any hope of finishing in the top three.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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