How Ireland can get a Euro 2024 play-off place, and why it might not matter
Ireland's record means a play-off place wouldn't be a cause for celebration.
Stephen Kenny's side lost 2-1 to Greece in Athens last Friday, a result that effectively ended any chance of automatic qualification from a group which also contains the Netherlands and France.
Kenny's side, as it stands, are on course to finish fourth in the five-team group, with a play-off place via the Uefa Nations League now the most likely route to the finals in Germany next summer. Yet, this path is far from straightforward.
Here's how Ireland can get a Euro 2024 play-off place. However, based on form, it may not even ultimately matter.
Euro 2024 play-offs: How do they work?
For Euro 2024, the top two teams from each qualification group will qualify directly for the tournament next summer.
These 20 teams will be joined by hosts Germany, meaning that the final three places will be decided based on results from the Nations League.
The winners of each group in Nations League A, B and C are guaranteed a play-off place. They are:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Of course, not all of these teams will need a play-off spot - especially those in League A, who will most likely qualify automatically.
For these teams, their play-off places will be filled based on Nations League rankings.
Euro 2024: How can Ireland get a play-off place?
Ireland are ranked 26th overall in the Nations League, and 10th in League B.
The team's Nations League performance was not strong enough to secure a guaranteed play-off place.
Yet, given the format of the qualification process, Kenny's team could still fall into the play-offs.
Ireland's chances of getting a play-off place will be increased by the teams ranked above them qualifying directly for the tournament.
Therefore, the more of these teams that automatically qualify, the better for the Boys in Green.
So, if 18 or more teams ranked ahead of Ireland in the Nations League qualify, then Kenny's side will get a play-off place.
As it stands, however, 14 teams ranked ahead of Ireland are in a position to qualify automatically.
If the situation remains like this at the end of the campaign, Ireland will not get a play-off spot.
We’ve had many questions about Ireland 🇮🇪 and how they can get to the playoffs.
The simplest answer is have 18 teams ahead of them in the Nations League table qualify.
We currently project 17 + Romania, Turkey, Slovakia. The full Nations League table:https://t.co/0laI3Pcte1
— We Global Football (@We_Global) June 19, 2023
For Ireland to get a play-off spot, no more than two of the following scenarios can happen:
- Group A: Georgia qualify ahead of either Spain or Scotland
- Group D: Turkey or Armenia qualify ahead of either Croatia or Wales.
- Group E: Albania qualify ahead of Poland or the Czech Republic.
- Group F: Sweden qualify ahead of Austria or Belgium.
- Group I: Romania qualify ahead of Switzerland or Israel.
- Group J: Slovakia qualify ahead of two of Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Iceland.
Ireland effectively need six or more teams ranked above them in League B to qualify automatically to get a play-off place in this path.
If Ireland are to get a play-off spot, only two lower-ranked League B teams can qualify automatically for the tournament
You can view the full rankings below.
Euro 2024: Who will be in the play-offs?
The play-offs will take place in March 2024. They will be one-leg games - a semi-final and a final. The highest-ranked team will have home advantage.
Each team from the League A bracket are on course to qualify automatically except Wales. If it remains this way, they would be joined in the play-offs by the best group winner from League D, which is Estonia.
The other two League A play-off spots would be filled by the two top-ranked teams from League B who did not qualify automatically or get a play-off spot. It's possible that Ireland could be among these sides.
If not, Kenny's team can go into the League B play-offs if, as mentioned above, at least six higher-ranked teams from this bracket qualify automatically for the tournament.
Football website We Global Football currently gives Ireland a 25 per cent chance of getting a play-off place, and just a one per cent chance of securing automatic qualification for Euro 2024.
Our 12 projected EURO 2024 playoff teams
— We Global Football (@We_Global) June 19, 2023
Ireland's record over the last few years.
Yet, even if Ireland get a play-off place, the team's record in recent years suggests that Ireland would probably not emerge victorious and qualify for the Euros.
Kenny has been in charge for 34 matches and has recorded 10 wins, 12 draws and 13 losses. Ireland's poor form predates the current manager, but if we dig deeper, the statistics are concerning.
Under Kenny, Ireland have beaten the following teams: Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Gibraltar, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Qatar, and Scotland.
The average FIFA ranking of the teams Ireland have beaten under Kenny is 121.
In competitive matches, Ireland have recorded five wins during his tenure. The average ranking of these teams is 109.
The only team ranked within the top 50 in the world that Ireland have beaten under Kenny is Scotland (39).
In competitive games since 2020, Luxembourg are the second highest-ranking team Ireland side have beaten, and they are currently ranked 91.
Meanwhile, the average FIFA ranking of teams Ireland have lost to under Kenny is 40. Ireland are currently ranked 49th in the world.
These statistics show that, under Kenny, Ireland are losing to teams ranked around them - such as Norway (44), Greece (52), Ukraine (30) and Finland (56) - and only recording wins over relative minnows. Such a record makes it hard for a team to reach a tournament.
Ireland would face higher-ranked teams in a playoff, and two away games. As such, it is difficult, at the moment, to be confident of their chances of emerging from this route to reach the tournament.
Ireland must massively improve to stand any chance of qualifying for Euro 2024, either through the qualification group or the playoffs. They also need other results to go in their favour.
It's a tall task, and won't get any easier - next up for Ireland is a double header against France and The Netherlands in September. There could be more pain in the months to come for Kenny and the Ireland team.
In the meantime, questions will remain about the manager and the quality of the squad.
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