Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Euro 2012 qualifying Goup B explained

With all six teams in Group B having played eight games, the identity of the eventual top two is still uncertain. Macedonia and Andorra are unable to qualify, so here's a look at the four teams still in contention:

Russia - 17 points
Slovakia (A); Andorra (H)
As the current leaders, Russia know that four points from their remaining two games will see them through to Euro 2012 as group winners. Their final game, at home to Andorra, is a virtual banker so they travel to Slovakia knowing that a draw will almost definitely earn qualification. If they finish level on points with Ireland or Armenia, their superior head-to-head record will see them through.

Ireland - 15 points
Andorra (A); Armenia (H)
Two wins from two in Ireland's final games will guarantee a playoff place at the very least. If Ireland are to have any chance of topping the group, Slovakia must beat Russia at home. Should Ireland and Armenia win their penultimate matches (away to Andorra and home to Macedonia respectively), both teams will meet each other in Dublin with only a single point in Ireland's favour separating them.

Armenia - 14 points
Macedonia (H); Ireland (A)
Armenia's convincing win away to Slovakia has seen them emerge as late contenders for a playoff place, and they know that victory in their final two games will assure them of second place at the very least. While they enjoy the better head-to-head record against Slovakia, defeat in Moscow means Russia will come out on top if the two teams finish level on points. The three points Russia will surely collect against Andorra therefore means that a top-place finish is out of the question for Andorra.

Slovakia - 14 points
Russia (H); Macedonia (A)
One point from their crucial two games against Ireland and Armenia has put a serious dent in their qualification hopes, but, such is the tightness of Group B, they still have a chance of progression. Their home game against Russia is undoubtedly the pick of the remaining Group B matches; if Slovakia win, they'll overtake Russia in the standings thanks to their superior head-to-head record. Assuming Ireland beat Andorra, any dropped points will make it impossible for Slovakia to finish ahead of Giovanni Trapattoni's team. Even if Slovakia do beat Russia and Macedonia, it may not be enough to earn top spot in the group; two Irish wins will result in them having to settle for second. 

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