Belfast Telegraph

Explained: How Republic of Ireland and Wales could BOTH miss out on World Cup play-off place

By Gareth Hanna

Tuesday evening's results have made the race for World Cup qualification a little bit clearer in Republic of Ireland and Wales' Group D.

Ireland went down 1-0 to group leaders Serbia in Dublin while the Welsh scored two late goals to see off basement side Moldova.

But - a bit of investigation into their current predicament indicates that Group D is in serious danger of becoming the one group that would miss out on a play-off place.

Results against the bottom team of each group will not count towards the play-off totals. So that means currently the race for play-off spots looks like this - with the points gained against basement teams discounted:

World Cup play-off updated table.jpg
The updated race for the play-offs after matches on September 5.

Even a glimpse at that table indicates Group D isn't in a good way.

What needs to happen for Group D to miss out on a play-off place?

In truth - it's really not that far-fetched at all.

Now let's go out on a limb and assume Serbia will do enough to win the group against Austria and Georgia. Let's also take it as red that Wales are going to win in Georgia and the Republic of Ireland beat Moldova.

Ahead of the final game showdown as Wales host RoI, that would leave Wales on 11 adjusted points and Republic of Ireland slightly behind on 10 adjusted points (17 and 16 in actual point total).

Now - here's the crucial bit. A draw in that final game between Wales and Republic of Ireland leaves Wales in second place but with only 12 adjusted points.

Already looking at the race for second - we can see that Group B, C, G and I have all surpassed that total already. It's also highly likely that Group A will get past the 12 points mark with Sweden still to play lowly Luxembourg. Group E is likely to finish with second place on at least 13 points as Denmark still have to host Romania.

That leaves only two groups that could come to Wales' aid, should they finish second with 12 adjusted points.

Saved by Group H?

Bosnia and Herzegovina are currently second with eight adjusted points. Their hopes will likely be all but dashed when they host Belgium in the next game.

But that could pave the way for Greece. Should the Greeks win in Cyprus and follow it up with a highly likely three points at home to Gibraltar, they would steal second with an adjusted total of 13 points and that could even see them creep past Group D in the all-important play-off table.

Saved by Group F?

If that happens, Group F is likely Wales' only hope.

Slovakia currently hold second but just a point behind are Slovenia and Scotland. The results Wales would need here would be for Scotland to defeat Slovakia and home and then for Slovenia to beat the Scots at home, providing Slovenia have lost at Wembley.

That would leave Slovakia second on 12 adjusted points - meaning it could go down to goal difference with Wales for that final play-off place.

If they get through, would Wales or Republic of Ireland be seeded for the play-offs?

The good news is if they survive all of this, Wales would almost definitely be seeded - but Republic of Ireland would almost certainly not be seeded.

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