Ireland set to face Slovakia in Euro 2020 playoffs
Uefa has the power to move Ireland out of Path B into Path A should they wish to do so
Mick McCarthy’s Irish team will now face the Slovaks in a one-legged semi-final in either Bratislava or Trnava. Photograph: PA
Ireland will almost certainly travel to play Slovakia in their Euro 2020 semi-final playoff next March after Wales booked their spot at the tournament with a final day win over Hungary. However, Uefa do have the power to move Ireland out of Path B and into Path A should they wish to do so. The sense is that they won’t given that there are four teams set in Path B but the tournament conditions do stipulate that the Emergency Panel can amend the paths if they wish.
Were they not to makes changes and leave the Path B playoffs with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia, Ireland and Northern Ireland then Mick McCarthy’s side would face the Slovaks in a one-legged semi-final in either Bratislava or Trnava (the Slovakian FA have until December 20th to confirm the venue) on March 26th next year. The playoff draw will take place in Nyon on Friday but Uefa are expected to finalise which teams go into which paths before then. If they confirm that Ireland are in Path B, as expected, then Slovakia will be the opponents.
Despite also winning their final match - against Azerbaijan - Slovakia had to settle for third place in Group E after finishing a point behind the Welsh.
Ireland would be away from home in that semi-final due to their lower Uefa ranking while the other semi-final would see Bosnia and Herzegovina meet Northern Ireland.
Should Ireland overcome Slovakia and reach the final of the playoffs then there will be a 50/50 chance it will be played in Dublin on March 31st. Uefa will make a draw in Nyon on Friday to decide who will host the final meaning that Ireland could potentially face a trip to Belfast to take on Northern Ireland or a return to Bosnia who Martin O’Neill’s side beat in 2015 to qualify for Euro 2016.