Fourteen Euro 2020 qualifying spots are still up for grabs this weekend, with England, Czech Republic, France and Turkey booking their places in next year’s tournament.
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have two huge games over the weekend that will decide their fate, will they qualify?
Michael O’Neill’s Northern Irish side are faced with possibly the toughest task out of all the European nations looking to secure Euro 2020 promotion.
They will need to realistically beat the Netherlands at home on Saturday night and also away to Germany on Tuesday. Northern Ireland are currently third in Group C three points behind the Dutch leaders, after winning their first four games and losing their last two outings.
In their previous game they held the Dutch all square, until taking the lead in the 75th minute. Two late injury time goals grabbed a win for Ronald Koeman’s team.
Michael O’Neill’s side are likely to need a play-off next March to secure a place at Euro 2020. If they fail to beat the Netherlands and Germany beat Belarus, then the Dutch and Germans will qualify for next summer’s tournament.
This will be O’Neill’s final home game in charge, after being appointed Stoke manager last week. But he will remain in charge of NI for the rest of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
Last night Mick McCarthy put out, what can be described as a very inexperienced and experimental side in their International friendly against New Zealand. The likes of underage star Troy Parrott, Celtic’s Lee O’Connor and Shamrock Rovers Jack Byrne all had chances to impress.
The performance will probably have been of more interest to Stephen Kenny, the Republic of Ireland Under-21 boss who replaces Mick McCarthy as manager next August.
The team who started the Dublin friendly will bear no resemblance to the side who play Monday’s must-win Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark.
They currently sit top of Group D alongside Denmark on 12 points with a pretty clear situation. Unless Gibraltar get a shock result against Denmark or Switzerland, the Irish must beat Denmark in Dublin on Monday to qualify.
However, because of the calculations in the event of a three-way tie, if Switzerland pick up exactly four points at home against Georgia on Friday and in Gibraltar on Monday, then the Republic would need to beat Denmark by two goals to qualify.
An unbeaten record is something not many former Republic managers can boast. Mick McCarthy can certainly use this as added motivation against a tough Danish team, who they know all too well.
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