Author: Dylan McBennett

 Since the writing of this article Ireland have got themselves through to the play-offs. A James McClean right footed finish sent the Irish in Cardiff into hysteria. Celebrations ensued as if Ireland had actually won the World Cup. Young Jimmy McClean has made the Irish dream again. But the story isn’t finished yet, Ireland still have work to do. The play-offs are up next. Let’s have a look at who Ireland can get, and who they realistically want to avoid.

Who can Ireland get?

The draw takes place on October 17th in Zurich. It takes place at 1PM Irish time.

Ireland are an unseeded team, so this means they can only come up against one of the seeded teams. These teams are Portugal/Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Denmark. The unseeded teams are, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Sweden and Greece. Realistically out of the seeded teams Ireland will want and pray for Denmark. While Denmark are a good side they are not on the level of the Portuguese. Ronaldo up against Stephen Ward does not seem like a fair battle does it? Italy equally so, Shane Long struggled to break down Moldova, does he stand a change against Cheillini, Bonnuci and Buffon? The Swiss haven’t lost a game all qualifying campaign and if they lose to Portugal would fancy their chances against Ireland. The Danes are the team Ireland are aiming for, all eyes on Zurich on the 17th. The hopes of a nation is in the hands of the draw-makers.

Ireland’s upcoming games are two of the most important in the countries history. Ireland hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since Korea 2002 when Robbie Keane was in his prime. Many felt this was the year Ireland would return to the summit of the world’s greatest competition, but recent results have left them in a dark place. The boys in Green’s drawl 1-1 draw away to Georgia was followed by a defeat to table-toppers Serbia. The green men are in a difficult position going into Friday’s game with Moldova, but can they qualify?

What does Ireland have to do?

Nothing less than two wins for Ireland will do. Moldova needs to be disposed of and should be. Granting that Wales will beat Georgia away from home, the showdown in Cardiff is a must win for Ireland. This is easier said than done, given Ireland’s record in Internationals in 2017.

 

Moving on, if Ireland manage to finish second in the group, only eight out of the nine second placed teams will move on to the play-offs. If they beat Moldova, their 6 points against them will be void come the play-offs. Wins accumulated against teams that finish bottom are taken off at the end of a campaign. If Ireland beat Wales this leaves them with 13 points. There are 5 teams that REALISTICALLY Ireland can overtake with a total of 13 points. Portugal, Iceland, Italy are too far away away. Northern Ireland is on 13, but face two tough games next. Germany at home and Norway away. Slovakia, Montenegro, Sweden and Bosnia are the teams Ireland can catch with 13.

The results Ireland need to qualify for Russia.

Up first is group C:

Northern Ireland vs Germany, Result needed: Germany win. The Deutsche need to do Ireland a favor.

Norway vs Northern Ireland, Result needed: Norway win. A Scandinavian masterclass.

This means Northern Ireland will finish on 13 points and provided Ireland up goal difference we will qualify.

Group I:

Scotland vs Slovakia: Scotland win. The Scots need to be red hot.

England vs Slovenia: Home win. The three lions need to be flying.

Slovenia vs Scotland: Slovenia win or draw. At ease Scotland.

Slovenia would fail to make it to 13 points, as would Slovakia. Ireland would qualify on 13.

Group E:

Montenegro vs Denmark: Denmark win, but by a small amount. Danes don’t make it rain.

Poland vs Montenegro: Poland win, significantly. The Poles must rack up the goals.

Denmark vs Romania: Romania win, or draw. Let’s hope they’re as good as the Euro-vision.

Montenegro would drop their goal difference, Denmark wouldn’t make 13 points.

Group A:

Sweden vs Luxembourg: Sweden win, but narrowly(not very likely). No Swede goal greed.

Holland vs Sweden: Holland win, by two or more goals. The Dutch must come up clutch.

Possibly the least likely outcome, considering Luxembourg quality, but Ireland would qualify on goal difference? Maybe?

Group H:

Bosnia vs Belgium: Away win or draw. Belgique must be magnifique.

Cyprus vs Greece: Home win or draw. Get them to the Greek.

Bosnia and Belgium will fall short of the 13 point mark.

It’s a long shot for Ireland, but the boys in Green never seem to stop believing. The playoffs will take place in November, with all games finishing on November the 14th. All eyes on the games on Friday and Monday night.

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