FOUR TEAMS ARE currently vying for the two coveted top spots in Group B Euro 2012 qualifying group and the current situation is, it must be said, more than a little confusing. With that in mind, we’ve decided to look at all the possible permutations that could arise in the concluding group games in a handy Q and A format.
Before we do that, here are the remaining fixtures:
Armenia v Macedonia
Slovakia v Russia
Andorra v Ireland
Russia v Andorra
Ireland v Armenia
Macedonia v Slovakia
In addition, you can view the current group standings here.
What happens if Ireland win their next two games?
Irrespective of the result between Russia and Slovakia, they are guaranteed a play-off place at the very least.
What other teams can still qualify from the group?
Russia, Slovakia and Armenia are all in with a chance of qualifying as group winners or runners-up.
Can Ireland still qualify as Group B winners?
Yes, if Ireland win their final two group games and Slovakia beat Russia, Ireland will qualify as group winners. Let’s assume for the sake of simplicity that Slovakia will beat Macedonia and Russia will beat Andorra.
What are the odds of Slovakia actually beating Russia?
It’s possible. Slovakia achieved a 1-0 victory in Russia, and you would initially assume home advantage would give them an even greater edge in the tie. Nonetheless, this seems a tad fanciful in light of their performance last night.
If Slovakia draw to Russia, what happens?
A draw would put Russia in pole position, while leaving the Slovakians’ chances of qualification hanging by a thread. Should Russia gain a draw, then Ireland can only top the group in the highly unlikely scenario that they fail to beat Andorra in their final game.
What if Ireland finish level on points with another team?
If Ireland finish level on points with Slovakia, they’ll finish ahead of them, as they have a better head-to-head record. Although Ireland’s away goal in Slovakia gives them the advantage. However, if Ireland end up level on points with Russia, they will naturally finish below them, as the Russians have the superior head-to-head-record.
What happens if three teams end up on the same points?
In the unlikely scenario that more than two teams end up on the same points, the outcome is dependant on coming results. However, should Ireland finish level on points with Russia and Slovakia, they will definitely not qualify, as their record against these two teams is the most inferior of the three sides.
Does goal difference come into the equation?
Only if teams have an identical head-to-head record.
Is it possible for all four contenders to end up on the same amount of points?
Yes, though again, it’s not likely to happen. There is only one set of results that would enable the outcome that all four teams end up on 18 points. Should this possibility be realised, the results involving only the four contenders to qualify would be taken into account to determine who qualifies. It would mean Armenia would win the group, while the runner-up would come down to goal difference between Slovakia and Russia. Given that Russia’s goal difference is currently immeasurably superior to Slovakia’s, they would probably qualify.
In the not unimaginable scenario that Ireland lose to Armenia, can they still qualify?
Technically yes, though it is highly improbable. They could even still win the group. However, it would be dependant on Macedonia defeating Armenia, Russia losing to Andorra and Macedonia beating Slovakia, among other results.