Saturday 17 March 2018

What do the Republic of Ireland need to do to qualify from Group E?

Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland need a victory over Italy to give them a realistic chance of progressing
Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland need a victory over Italy to give them a realistic chance of progressing
A match graphic of how Group E can finish.

The Republic of Ireland's hopes of progressing to the knock-out stage of Euro 2016 suffered a blow on Saturday when they were beaten 3-0 by Belgium in Bordeaux.

Here Press Association Sport looks at how the results in Wednesday's final round of group games would affect the chances of Martin O'Neill's side.


Beginning with the most optimistic scenario, if Ireland beat Italy then they can still qualify for the knock-out phases. However, unless they can defeat the Italians by a heavy margin while Sweden scrape a narrow win over Belgium, it would only be as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Should Belgium beat the Swedes then their six points would keep Ireland third, while a draw for the Belgians would leave both them and the Irish on four points. With teams' results against each other used as a tie-breaker before their overall records, Ireland would be pushed into third due to their loss to the Belgians.

If Sweden were to beat Belgium then they would join Ireland on four points instead and, as they drew with the Irish in their opening match, overall records would be used as a tie-breaker. O'Neill's men currently have an inferior goal difference after their recent 3-0 defeat and would need a big win in their final game to overtake the Swedes, who only lost 1-0 in their second fixture.


A draw in their final game, while a creditable result in its own right, is unlikely to be of much use to the Irish. If Belgium were to beat Sweden then it would move Ireland up to third in the table but, with just two points and a goal difference of -3 to their name, it seems likely that at least four other third-placed teams would finish with a superior record.


If Ireland were to be defeated in their final match then only a heavy defeat for Sweden against Belgium would keep them off the bottom of the Group E table. However, with just a single point to their name their participation in the tournament would surely be over regardless.


If Ireland can win against Italy in their last match and finish third in Group E, they would be drawn against the winner of either Group A, B, C or D in the last 16. The current leaders of those four groups are a daunting quartet indeed: hosts France, rivals England, reigning world champions Germany or defending European champions Spain.

Press Association

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