Group D’s qualification permutations became a lot clearer following Monday night’s results ahead of two final rounds of fixtures in October.
The top-two ranked sides qualify for next summer’s tournament with whoever finishes in third-place entering a two-legged playoff (the highest ranked third-place finisher qualifies automatically).
Republic of Ireland Ireland will be guaranteed a top-three finish provided they take a point from their upcoming jousts with Germany (home) and Poland (away) as well as Scotland failing to win one of their remaining fixtures against Gibraltar or the Poles.
Jonathan Walters’ strike in the 1-0 win over Georgia coupled with Scotland’s narrow loss to the Germans at Hampden Park has handed Ireland a slight advantage, despite Gordon Strachan’s side enjoying a better head-to-head record should the two sides finish level on points.
Bottom line, Martin O’Neill and his squad will reach Euro 2016 as long as they match or better Scotland’s result against Poland.
Consecutive losses in their previous two outings means Scotland cannot now qualify directly as one of the top two teams but can still make it through via the play-offs as a third-placed group finisher.
The Tbilisi performance and subsequent defeat was especially disappointing for Gordon Strachan considering how well his side played at home to Germany.
Victory over Gibraltar in their final group fixture is all but guaranteed making Poland’s visit to Hampden Park on October 8 the most crucial game of Strachan’s tenure. A Scottish victory would heap further pressure on the Republic of Ireland to get a result against the Poles three days later assuming Germany garner maximum points in Dublin.
There is still hope but that 1-0 loss in Georgia could yet prove the most costly of defeats for Scottish fans.
Germany remains the only side to inflict a defeat upon Adam Nawalka’s Poland heading into the final rounds of Group D fixtures. Top goal-scorers in the group thanks to the 8-1 hammering handed out to Gibraltar on Monday; the Poles still can’t afford to slip-up against Ireland in their final game to cement their place at Euro 2016 even with a win at Hampden Park at the start of October.
Monday’s 3-2 victory away to Scotland means Joachim Low’s side are assured, at worst, a third-place finish. The Germans will guarantee automatic qualification for Euro 2016 with a point or better at the Aviva Stadium on October 8.
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