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Here's What Ireland Need To Do To Qualify For Russia 2018 After Today's Results

Here's What Ireland Need To Do To Qualify For Russia 2018 After Today's Results
By Mikey Traynor

Despite Ireland's massively disappointing performance in Georgia, a draw was not the worst result in the world in the grand scheme of things.

Serbia kicked off at the same time and made light work of Moldova as expected with a 3-0 win, which sees them sit two points clear at the top of Group D until Tuesday at least.

Unfortunately for Ireland, Wales managed to beat Austria at home tonight and while that does eliminate Austria from the discussion altogether, it means that Gareth Bale and his mates are breathing down our necks.

So here is how things stand in Group D after the latest round of fixtures:

And here are the remaining fixtures yet to be played:

September 5th:
Austria vs Georgia
Moldova vs Wales
Ireland vs Serbia

October 6th:
Georgia vs Wales
Austria vs Serbia
Ireland vs Moldova

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October 9th:
Moldova vs Austria
Serbia vs Georgia
Wales vs Ireland

Looking at the fixtures between ourselves and Wales, we both play Moldova in our next two fixtures, so if we give a win to each side there then the difference between our result at home to Serbia and Wales' result in Georgia, plus the point advantage we have now, will be what separates us when we meet in Cardiff in the final game of the group.

We could ask Georgia to do us a massive favour yet again, but really we need to go out and beat Serbia, then dispatch of Moldova and see how we look going to Wales on 19 points.

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If we can't beat Serbia, but manage a draw instead, then we also have to worry about the fact that not every 2nd placed side will be guaranteed a playoff place.

After today's results, here is how the table of 2nd placed sides looks right now:

Keep in mind that if we beat Moldova only our results against Serbia and Wales will count in this table.

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It all really means that Ireland's match with Serbia on Tuesday will go a long way to determining who books their place in Russia next summer, and who has to sweat until the final day. Here are the most likely scenarios depending on what the result is.

Ireland beat Serbia:

Let's say the players come out fired up and determined to prove a point, and we get a massive result at home to send the Irish fans wild.

That would put us one point ahead of Serbia with Moldova to come while they have to go to Austria in their next game before finishing at home to Georgia. If we could follow that with a win against Moldova, we travel to Cardiff on 19 points, with Wales on 18 if they beat Moldova and Georgia away (no guarantee).

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In summary: Beat Serbia and we're all but there.

Ireland draw with Serbia:

By far the most likely result when you look at this fixture and how the group has gone so far, a draw between Ireland and Serbia would give Wales the chance to go level with us on 14 points against Moldova, ahead on goal difference. Servia would sit on 16 with Austria and Georgia to play.

In summary: Draw and we need to boost our goal difference against Moldova, then get a result against Wales in the final match.

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Ireland lose to Serbia:

This cannot be allowed to happen. If we lose to Serbia that means they will almost certainly top the group, and Wales will likely go one point ahead of us meaning we have to go to Wales and win in the final game unless Georgia bail us out again.

In summary: Bad. Very, very bad.

Martin O'Neill has already said that we need to go out and beat Serbia on Tuesday, so let's hope the players can get the job done so we can start dreaming about a trip to Russia next summer.

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