image: AP / Peter Morrison
Like many of the teams that wound up in the playoffs, Ireland came awfully close to qualifying directly. When it was assured that Germany would top Group D, the final direct qualifying spot came down to Poland and Ireland. Conveniently, they played each other on the final match day. After the teams traded goals in the first half, Poland took a 2-1 lead into the break. At that point, Ireland needed just a draw to qualify, as they would advance on away goals. They were unable to level, and off to the playoffs went the Boys in Green.
Bosnia had an odd qualifying campaign. We liked Belgium to top Group B and thought it would be close between Wales and Bosnia for 2nd. Through 7 matches they sat in fifth place behind both Israel and Cyprus. But they brought the noise down the stretch, winning their final 3 as both Israel and Cyprus faltered. While they were in too big a hole to catch either Belgium or Wales, Bosnia solidified itself in the playoffs.
Speaking of history… there’s actually almost none to speak of. They’ve never been drawn into the same group in EURO or World Cup Qualifying. And despite Bosnia-Herzegovina beginning their independent footballing in 1993, these two teams have only met once in their history. It was a friendly in 2012 which Ireland won 1-0. That’s it.
There’s also some good and bad news. The good news is that fans will be treated to two quality teams squaring off in a new matchup. That’s a rarity in UEFA. The bad news for both of these teams is that they are the top 2 ranked teams in the playoffs according to the WGF Rankings.
That’s unfortunate for both of these teams. Ireland was a quality team out of Pot 2, and drew the best team in Pot 1. Bosnia-Herzegovina was surely hoping to pounce on a Pot 2 team, but they got the most difficult matchup in Ireland. Not ideal for either side as both teams are playing extremely well.
Odds to Advance
At the moment, our rankings have Republic of Ireland at #19 and Bosnia-Herzegovina at #23, which is about as close as you can get. As such, we give the slightest of edges to Ireland. And really, the slightest. It’s going to make for an outstanding matchup.
Republic of Ireland: 53.2%
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