A look at the best and worst playoff possibilities for the Republic of Ireland
After the disappointing defeat in Poland, the Republic of Ireland now have to prepare themselves for the stress of the playoffs.
Only themselves and Denmark are definitely going to be competing in the playoffs, with a number of different variables in play to decide who joins them.
The nine third place teams are all ranked based on points accrued in qualification, with games against the bottom sides in your group ignored (except in the five team Group I), and the top placed team automatically qualifies for Euro 2016.
The other eight nations will then be drawn in the playoffs, with those in the top four being seeded.
Martin O’Neill’s side will definitely not end up seeded, meaning they face a tricky task to qualify.
Here and the best and worst case scenarios:
If results go as expected, the seeded teams will be Norway, Ukraine, Denmark and Sweden, while the unseeded sides joining the Republic of Ireland will be Slovenia, Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Of the four that could be drawn with the Green Army, the one that gives them the best chance of qualifying is Denmark.
The Danes have scored less than any other of the top four ranked third-placed sides, with eight, and failed to score in half of their games, including an embarrassing scoreless draw with Armenia.
Other than Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen, they lack any real quality in the squad, as evidenced by the continued inclusion of Nicklas Bendtner.
Aside from Denmark, the next best option would be Sweden who, despite boasting Zlatan Ibrahimovic in their starting eleven, got trounced 4-1 by Austria last month.
The toughest opponent for Martin O’Neill to prepare for all depends on the conclusion of Group H, with Croatia and Norway hoping to join Italy in progressing.
With one game remaining, the Norwegians sit second on 19 points, while the Vatreni are chasing in third with 17 points.
Martin Odegaard and company have to avoid defeat against the Azzurri to guarantee qualification, while Croatia will look to win in Malta to pile on the pressure.
Both teams would provide tough opposition for the Republic of Ireland, but a side containing Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic that has only let in five goals is a much scarier prospect.
Those in Dublin should be supporting Italy and Croatia on Tuesday night.
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