The Republic of Ireland’s hopes of reaching Euro 2020 are still alive, despite two disappointing results.
Mick McCarthy’s side drew away to Georgia before losing 2-0 to Switzerland in Geneva in their most recent games. They now must win their final group game against Denmark in Dublin on November 18 to qualify for next summer’s tournament.
Here is how the table stands:
But ignore this. Ireland are in a false position. We can guarantee that Denmark will beat Gibraltar in their game in hand and that Switzerland will beat Georgia at home.
This will mean the top three in the group will be as follows;
Denmark – 15
Switzerland – 14
Ireland – 12
Should Ireland defeat Denmark in November in their final group game they will be level on points with the Danes, but qualify on a head to head basis.
If Ireland lose or draw in Dublin then it appears as though they will still have the opportunity to qualify via a UEFA Nations League playoff – despite not winning a game in their group.
It’s a complicated process, but here’s how it would work from an Irish perspective;
There are 24 spots up for grabs at Euro 2020, with 20 being filled by the top two from the ten groups involved, with the remaining four being determined by the UEFA Nations League play-offs.
If we recall, the Nations League had four leagues; A,B,C and D, each containing four groups of either three or four teams. In theory the winners of each of the groups in each of the leagues will compete in a mini knockout phase to determine which four teams reach Euro 2020.
Some of the group winners though will have already secured a spot at Euro 2020 via the qualifiers which means that their spots in the playoffs will go to the next best-ranked team in their respective league.
If a league does not have four teams to compete (say, for example, if ten of the 12 League A teams qualify automatically), the remaining slots are allocated to sides from another League in accordance with the overall UEFA Nations League rankings.
Complicated right? But this is all good news for Ireland.
Ireland were originally drawn in League B with their group containing Wales and Denmark with the rest of the league being made up of the following teams
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey and Northern Ireland.
If we assume that Denmark take Ireland’s spot automatically, they are out of playoff contention, while Ukraine and Russia have both already qualified. Sweden and Bosnia are guaranteed a playoff.
Belgium, Spain, Italy and Poland, are the other teams qualified however they are all in League A.
What essentially needs to happen from an Irish point of view is that they need 15 teams ranked ahead of them to qualify for the Boys in Green to secure a playoff spot.
On the basis of the current European Qualifiers standings, the following teams would be involved in the play-offs (teams in bold confirmed):
Path A: Switzerland, Iceland, Bulgaria/Israel/Romania*
Path B: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wales, Slovakia, Northern Ireland
Path C: Scotland, Norway, Serbia, Bulgaria/Israel/Romania*
Path D: Georgia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Belarus
*In the current scenario, a draw would decide which of Bulgaria, Israel or Romania would fill the empty slot in Path C, and which two would go into Path A.
This, however, is false, as Switzerland should beat Georgia and ultimately qualify, so should Ireland lose and take their spot they will likely move into Path B.
If Wales end up beating Hungary then they will take their spot and qualify automatically while Hungary would potentially move into Path C, depending on other results.
Potential Irish Play-Off Group
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland, Slovakia, Northern Ireland
This would mean Ireland’s play-off opponents would consist of firstly, an away tie with Slovakia and then should they win that they would face the winner of Bosnia vs Northern Ireland.
The host for each path’s play-off final will be drawn in advance on 22 November 2019.
The semi-final would take place on the 26th of March with the final taking place on March 31st.
It’s a complicated process but one thing is simple; should Ireland defeat Denmark next month, then they will be heading to Euro 2020.
Originally published on October 16.
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