Uefa confirm Ireland’s Euro 2020 playoff and tournament seedings
McCarthy’s side head for Slovakia while qualification could see a potential group of death
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy during the Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Uefa have confirmed that Ireland’s Euro 2020 playoff semi-final will take place away to Slovakia on Thursday, March 26th.
While it looked certain that Ireland would be facing the Slovaks, there was still the chance that Uefa may change the playoff paths and bump Ireland from Path B up to Path A, as they have the power to do through their Emergency Panel.
However, they have now confirmed that Ireland, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovakia will make up the Path B playoffs.
In the other semi-final on March 26th, Northern Ireland will travel to take on Bosnia and Herzegovina with the winner of that match facing the winner of Ireland and Slovakia in the final.
Who gets to host that final will be decided at Friday’s playoff draw in Nyon meaning that Ireland may be facing a trip to Bosnia or Belfast or indeed a home tie in Dublin five days after the semi-final on March 31st.
Slovakia have until December 20th to decide on the venue for their meeting with Ireland. Since 2015 they have played every competitive match in Trnava – 47km from the capital Bratislava – but they recently played a friendly at the newly-renovated stadium in the capital, meaning they may decide to host Ireland there.
The rest of the playoff fixtures will be confirmed at the draw on Friday as one of Bulgaria, Israel, Romania or Hungary will have to be bumped up to Path A.
Meanwhile, the seeding for the final tournament draw – which takes place on Saturday November 30th – has also been announced.
As a host nation Ireland have already been assigned to Group E alongside Spain and will be joined by one of France, Poland, Switzerland or Croatia as well as one of Portugal, Turkey, Austria, Sweden or Czech Republic.
Dauntingly enough that means that, should Ireland negotiate the playoffs and qualify, they could face a group of the current world champions in France, the defending European champions in Portugal and Spain who won back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012, beating Ireland 4-0 in the group stages in the latter.
Due to the fact that Ireland have to go through the playoffs to reach the main tournament, it has also been confirmed that the group stage meeting with Spain, should Ireland qualify, will take place in Bilbao with McCarthy’s men playing the other two group games in Dublin.
Exact fixture details – including when those potential Ireland matches in Dublin will take place – will be confirmed at the finals draw on Saturday week.
Euro 2020 playoff round fixtures:
Iceland v Hungary/Romania
Bulgaria/Israel v Israel/Hungary
Bosnia and Herzegovina v Northern Ireland
Slovakia vs. Republic of Ireland
Scotland v Bulgaria/Israel/Romania/Hungary
Norway v Serbia
Georgia v Belarus
North Macedonia v Kosovo
Euro 2020 Pots:
Winner playoff Path A
Winner playoff Path B (potentially Ireland or Northern Ireland)
Winner playoff Path C
Winner playoff Path D