Ireland qualifies for the Euros: What happens next?

It’s official, the Republic of Ireland will be heading to France this summer to take part in the European championships. Thanks to two goals by Jonathan Walters and a generally great performance by the players in the Aviva against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday, Ireland are now officially qualified for the Euros. We will take a look at the best and worst possible groupings that Ireland could have at the Euros.

Ireland’s best possible group

England (World ranking: 9th)
Portugal would also be a nice team to get considering the other teams in pot 1, but it seems that Ireland would be more fired up for the challenge against England. The bitter history and tension between the two countries is always in the back of Irish people’s minds, so a match against England on Europe’s biggest stage would be a momentous occasion. They are also the worst ranked team in pot 1 and even though they had a good run in the past year, almost all the teams they played were very poor and they had an easy group in the qualifiers.

Austria (World ranking: 10th)
Even though they are ranked 10th in the world, Austria would be the best team to get in this pot. They have been a very average team for the past few years. They had an excellent qualifying stages as they won 9 games and drew 1 out of 10, but the overall group had very poor teams like Lichtenstein and Moldova. It is hard to know how they will fare in the Euros, but Ireland would fancy their chances against them.

Hungary (World ranking: 33rd)
Hungary got into the Euros the same way as us (through the playoffs), after beating Norway 2-1 over two legs. Ireland would not have too much of a problem, with Zoltan Gera from West Brom being their most notable player in the team.

Irelands Worst possible group

Spain (World ranking: 6th)
Even though they are only ranked 6th in the world, Spain would probably be Ireland’s nightmare team in next year’s euros from pot 1. Many Irish fans will remember back in 2012 when Spain demolished us 4-0 in the group stages, and they went on to win the competition. Spain took a dip when they crashed out of the 2014 world cup in the group stages, but they are on the rise again and could spell trouble for Ireland if they meet in France next year.

Italy (World ranking: 13th)
Another team who were in our group for the last European Championship and who also beat us, Italy will still be a daunting team to play this time round. Getting to the final in 2012 before ultimately losing 4-0 against Spain will make them more fired up this time to go one step further than they did four years ago.

Poland (World ranking: 38th)
Poland beat us in the last match of the qualifiers to knock us back into the playoff position in the group. Luckily we got through but we could be facing them again in France. In the last game we lost 2-1, but we never really looked like we could win against Warsaw. If Lewandowski can keep up his form for the rest of the season for Bayern Munich and into the Euros, Ireland could be in trouble.

So there it is, the best and worst groups that Ireland could get in Euro 2016. The draw is on December 12th and we can only speculate until then. One thing is for sure however, and that is that the Irish fans will come in their droves and will liven France up like they did in the last championships in Poland. That is one thing we know for a fact.

By John McAuliffe

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