The Nations League is back.
On Thursday, Stephen Kenny and his Ireland side will learn their UEFA Nations League fate ahead of an exciting 2022 for the Boys in Green.
While there were green shoots throughout 2021, Kenny has earmarked the upcoming Nations League as a viable means for he, and his side to reach Euro 2024.
And while that may still be the case with news of his contract set to be extended, Ireland may still meet their challenges in their upcoming campaign in League B.
Saying that, there is also the potential for Ireland to benefit from a kind draw, despite their position as third seeds in the pot.
Who is in League B?
As mentioned, Ireland will take their place in League B of the upcoming UEFA Nations League draw on Thursday.
And with the Boys in Green taking their place in the second-tier of the competition, there are still several teams who Ireland may be best avoiding.
‘League B’ consists of 16 teams, with Ireland being one of them, including: Ukraine, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Scotland, Russia, Israel, Romania, Serbia, Ireland, Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania and Armenia.
All 16 teams have been filtered into four seeded spots, with Ireland down as third-seeds.
?? Republic of Ireland closed their #WCQ campaign with a stunning 3-0 win over Luxembourg ???
⚽️ Shane Duffy
⚽️ Chiedozie Ogbene
⚽️ Callum Robinson pic.twitter.com/z0EtbLKipn
— European Qualifiers (@EURO2024) November 14, 2021
Pot 1: Ukraine, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland.
Pot 2: Finland, Norway, Scotland, Russia.
Pot 3: Israel, Romania, Serbia, Ireland.
Pot 4: Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania and Armenia.
Best and worst-case draws for Ireland.
While Ireland have endured a difficult time of things in the UEFA Nations League before, there is a sense of optimism about this draw, and Ireland’s chances heading into it.
But that optimism may turn sour should the Boys in Green be handed a difficult draw.
From Pot 1 however, Kenny’s Ireland may be best served if they were to be drawn out to play against either Bosnia & Herzegovina or Iceland.
While both teams will pose a threat, those two sides are a kinder draw than either Ukraine or Sweden – despite the limitations of both sides.
From Pot 2, Finland would not be the worst pick, especially given the strength of the other sides in the seeding.
Scotland are a team on the rise, as are Norway, while Russia pushed Croatia all the way in their World Cup qualifying group, losing out by a single point.
Finland and Ireland have recent history as well, with the pair playing against one another in the last Nations League campaign. Kenny’s Ireland, however, lost out on that occasion, but there was enough, even back then, to suggest that Ireland could easily defeat the Finns.
With Ireland in Pot 3, no side from there can play Ireland, ruling out games against Israel, Romania and Serbia, leaving pot 4 left.
In truth, Ireland should have the number of any of those four sides there, but if you had to pick one, Armenia would be the most favourable pick from that group, despite the potential for a tricky away day in Yerevan.
Of the other three teams in pot 4, Albania may pose the biggest test for Ireland, but neither Montenegro or Slovenia should be of concern if Kenny or his side have ambitions of winning their group outright.
Best case for Ireland: Bosnia & Herzegovina/Iceland, Finland, Ireland, Armenia.
Worst case for Ireland: Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, Albania.
What are Ireland’s chances?
With Kenny in defiant mood about Ireland’s Nations League chances, it is easy enough to see why he is of that mindset.
In truth, the second-seeded teams pose the biggest threat to Ireland, but a favourable draw there may open the door for Ireland to have realistic ambitions to top the group.
The former Dundalk boss, however, appears to have instilled a confidence in his side that suggest they are fearful of no side, but a handy draw in the Nations League would go some way to helping Ireland reach Euro 2024.
In all seriousness, however, this Nations League draw is a great opportunity to achieve just that.
You can also find out all the details for the draw here.