So here it is. A few months ago we would have a bit off a few hands to be in this position. However, after Thursday night, a playoff does seem like a bit of an anticlimax.
Nonetheless, we won't be too disheartened. Sure the game against Poland made for very difficult viewing but maybe the win against Germany just took too much out of us. It was a monumental effort against the world champions and we're going to choose to look on the bright side. We're still in with a chance of qualification.
Having said that, even our playoff chances are significantly more difficult then they may have been. We've been spouting on and on over the past few days why automatic qualification is so important but we've missed out and now we have to face the consequences. (This looking on the brightside craic isn't going very well).
The reality of the situation is that it's very unlikely we'll be seeded for the playoff draw next Sunday. As things stand, according to an unofficial update, Croatia, Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden and Bosnia are all ahead of us in the UEFA coefficient rankings, as well as potentially Hungary. With four seeded spots up for grabs, we need a big swing on Monday and Tuesday to get back into a desirable position.
The groups that still matter
Turkey (below us in rankings) take on Iceland tomorrow night, Netherlands take on Czech Republic. We need Turkey to stay in third place here to make sure Netherlands don't get in and make our prospects even worse than they seem at the moment.
Bosnia are ahead of us, Israel and Cyprus behind us. It's Belgium vs Israel and Cyprus vs Bosnia on Tuesday night. A Cypriot win over Bosnia here would do Ireland's hopes of a seeded place a lot of good.
This is all about who gets the automatic qualification spot as best third placed side. Currently Hungary are in there and in the projected standings they've also moved ahead of us in terms of coefficients. That means that we could really do with Slovakia slipping down to third here, allowing Ukraine and Hungary both go through automatically.
Ukraine face Spain on Monday night with Slovakia facing Luxembourg. It's unlikely but we're hoping for Ukraine to jump above Slovakia here.
Russia and Sweden are both ahead of us so much of a muchness here. Russia host Montenegro and Sweden host Moldova tonight. It's likely to be Sweden in the play-offs.
Norway are behind us, Croatia are ahead of us. Norway travel to Italy on Tuesday, Croatia travel to Malta. Hopes are high here that we could move up a spot in terms of the seedings. We're looking for an Italy win.
So what does all of that mean for Ireland?
Best case scenario
In terms of Ireland getting seeded, the best case scenario would be as follows:
Seeded: Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Ukraine/Hungary
Unseeded: Cyprus, Turkey, Norway, Slovenia
It's unlikely Slovakia will mess up against Luxembourg so we'll take them out of the equation. In an ideal scenario, we would probably be looking for Cyprus, even if that does seem like a horrible thing to say. Slovenia would be a decent alternative.
Worst case scenario
Despite that, it still seems unlikely we'll be unseeded so here's how that might play out.
Seeded: Netherlands, Croatia, Ukraine, Russia/Sweden
Unseeded: Ireland, Slovenia, Denmark, Bosnia
We'll decline from selecting between those seeded teams because, to be honest, we don't really fancy facing any of them. Sweden at a push maybe.
Most likely scenario
That's best and worst but what is most likely?
Seeded: Bosnia, Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark
Unseeded: Turkey, Ireland, Slovenia, Norway
If this is to be the way things turn out after Tuesday night then Ireland are still in with a chance, not a great chance but still a chance. We'd like to avoid Ukraine. Bosnia and Sweden are hard to split while Denmark haven't torn up any trees in a group that saw Albania grab an automatic qualifying spot. We'll hope for the Danes.