Wednesday 12 December 2018

Revealed - Why Neil Taylor's horror tackle on Seamus Coleman could cost Wales a World Cup place tonight

Wales' defender Neil Taylor (L) is shown a red card by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli for a horror tackle on Seamus Coleman back in March
Wales' defender Neil Taylor (L) is shown a red card by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli for a horror tackle on Seamus Coleman back in March
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Wales could see their hopes of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup finals ended due to their poor disciplinary record in their Group D qualifying campaign, with Neil Taylor's red card for his leg-breaking tackle on Seamus Coleman in Dublin potentially decisive in a dramatic conclusion to this story.

Wales or Ireland would be through to the play-offs if they win the game in Cardiff, with the winners of the Ukraine v Croatia game also progressing to ties that will be played next month.

Yet the mathematics will get complex if those two games finish as a draw, with the deciding ‘Fair Play factor’ potentially working against Wales as Taylor’s horror tackle that shattered Seamus Coleman’s leg in Dublin back in March possibly proving decisive in ending his nations World Cup dreams.

Let us try to explain the complexities of what is certain to be a dramatic night of international football.

With nine teams battling it our for eight play-off places up for grabs Wales and Croatia would be joint bottom of the league table of second place teams (along with Slovakia) on 12 points if two draws are played out in tonight’s crucial qualifiers.

That would send Slovakia through to the play-offs by virtue of their superior goal difference, with Wales and Croatia both having the same points and goal difference in the calculations.

At present Wales have scored one more goal that Croatia and if both games were to finish in the same score line (0-0, 1-1 or 2-2), then Coleman’s side would qualify.

However, if Ukraine v Croatia was to be a higher scoring draw that Wales v Ireland, the next deciding factor would see Fair Play considered, with Wales missing out on those calculation as Taylor’s red card in Dublin is part of their disciplinary record during this qualifying campaign.

Wales have 13 yellow cards during the nine qualifiers thus far plus Taylor’s red and Croatia have 10 bookings and a red card for Ivan Perisic on their record.

Ireland fans may argue there would be some belated justice if Taylor’s red card costs Wales a place in the World Cup finals, but a lot of factors will come into play before that scenario comes to pass.

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