ARE YOU ALL strapped in? This could be quite a ride.
Ireland host Armenia tonight at the Aviva Stadium in what will be a dramatic night of final qualification games across the continent.
So, how do things stand at the moment? Let’s start with Ireland’s pool…
It’s more or less done and dusted at the top.
Russia just need a point at home to Andorra – the worst team on the planet, as Billo reminded us on Friday - but the real battle is between the Republic of Ireland and surprise package Armenia for second place. The two teams meet in Dublin with the hosts a point ahead of their opponents and just needing a draw. The Republic could even finish first should they win and Russia, inconceivably, lose to Andorra.
Germany have qualified, after they maintained a 100% record throughout the qualifying stages.
Turkey and Belgium are now left to do battle for the runner-up spot. Belgium are ahead by one point, so they simply need to achieve the same result as their rivals. However, they arguably face the tougher challenge as they travel to Germany while Turkey play Azerbaijan at home.
Italy are home and dry having secured automatic qualification, while Serbia need to beat Slovenia in order to qualify for the play-offs. Otherwise Estonia, who have played all their games, will finish second.
France and Bosnia-Herzegovina square off in a game that will decide who finishes top of the group. Bosnia need to win in Paris if they are to advance automatically but will have the compensation of a play-off place if they don’t.
Like Germany, the Dutch still hold a 100% qualifying record and have already qualified. Sweden have secured second spot and will qualify as best runners-up if they beat Holland.
Greece need to draw in Georgia in order to qualify automatically, while Croatia can overtake them if they don’t, provided they beat Latvia. Croatia are at least guaranteed second spot should they fail to top the group.
England secured automatic qualification on Friday while Wales ended Switzerland’s hopes, meaning Montenegro are guaranteed to finish second whatever happens.
Portugal and Denmark are on equal points and play each other, with Portugal needing a draw to advance. Denmark could yet advance if they fail to beat the Portuguese, as they’ll secure the best runner-up spot if they draw and Sweden fail to beat Holland.Norway can also technically still qualify if they beat Cyprus and Denmark also win with a combined goal difference of ten.
Spain have predictably attained top spot in the group, while Scotland need to match the Czech Republic’s result. The Scots travel to Spain while the Czechs face an away trip to Lithuania.
– Additional reporting by Adrian Russell