On Friday, we all drove ourselves half-mad trying to think through all the permutations after that win against Germany. Robert Lewandowski's last minute goal against Scotland really made things a hell of a lot more difficult for us.
One last time, here's the simplified version of events as we await that mammoth task in Warsaw tonight.
- Beat Poland and we qualify.
- Draw 2-2, 3-3, 4-4 etc. and we qualify.
- Lose or draw 0-0/1-1 and we're into a play-off.
We know what we have to do, but if we do come away with that third (distinct) possibility, where does that leave us? After last night's results, it leaves us in a significantly more rocky position. It's all down to the seedings for the play-off round. Here's the table of third place finishers as things stand.
Seedings are based on UEFA coefficient. After the top team is assured of automatic qualification, Ireland need to be one of the top four ranked teams to be given a seeded draw and, as things stand, here's how that table stands.
We may see where we're going with this.
We'll start with the good news. Turkey really did us a favour in Group A on Saturday night. By beating already qualified Czech Republic 2-0, they ensured they're going into the last game at home to group leaders Iceland with their destiny in their own hands. Which is very important indeed when you see who's breathing down their necks.
Netherlands (who last night defeated Kazakhstan 2-1) getting into the play-off would be potentially disastrous for Ireland. Not only would they take one of the top four seeded spots away but, obviously enough, that would then mean we'd be in with a chance of facing the Netherlands. Despite their trouble during this campaign that's not what we want.
So, on to the bad news.
Cyprus may have put a dent in yet another Irish qualification campaign and they're not even in our group. As things stand, Ireland are in line to be unseeded for the play-offs thanks to Bosnia's 2-0 win over Wales and Israel's 2-1 defeat at home to Cyprus.
Bosnia face a trip to Cyprus (who aren't out of things yet) on the final day while Israel travel to Belgium. Hopefully it won't come down to this but Ireland may have to be cheering on Cyprus if we don't get the result we want.
Hungary, Croatia, Sweden, Ukraine and Bosnia are all ranked ahead of us. One of them will get automatic qualification but it still means Ireland would be outside the top four. Meanwhile an Albanian win over Armenia later today would also see Denmark drop down into third place and more than likely take a seeded spot.
The coefficient rankings haven't been updated since mid June so our win over Germany is likely to give us a decent leg up in that regard but we'll potentially be fighting it out with Ukraine, Croatia, Sweden and Denmark (as well as Bosnia) for a seeded spot so it's touch and go whether it would be enough to give us the boost needed.
What all this means is that, although the coefficients need to be updated still, Ireland could really do with a win in Warsaw tonight and just put us all out of our glorious misery.