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Ireland must beat Italy to keep Euro hopes alive

June 19, 2016 • Soccer, Sport,

Republic of Ireland's Ciaran Clark (left), Robbie Brady (centre) and Stephen Ward (right) count the cost after Belgium's Romelu Lukaku's goal.

Republic of Ireland’s Ciaran Clark (left), Robbie Brady (centre) and Stephen Ward (right) count the cost after Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku’s goal.

The Republic of Ireland’s hopes of progressing to the knock-out stage of Euro 2016 suffered a hammer blow on Saturday when they were beaten 3-0 by Belgium in Bordeaux.

Martin O’Neill’s side now face the impressive Italian side who have already qualified for the second phase.

Here’s how the results in Wednesday’s final round of group games would affect the chances of the Republic of Ireland.

IRELAND BEAT ITALY

Beginning with the most optimistic scenario, if Ireland beat Italy then they can still qualify for the knock-out phases. However, unless they can defeat the Italians by a heavy margin while Sweden scrape a narrow win over Belgium, it would only be as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Should Belgium beat the Swedes then their six points would keep Ireland third, while a draw for the Belgians would leave both them and the Irish on four points. With teams’ results against each other used as a tie-breaker before their overall records, Ireland would be pushed into third due to their loss to the Belgians.

If Sweden were to beat Belgium then they would join Ireland on four points instead and, as they drew with the Irish in their opening match, overall records would be used as a tie-breaker. O’Neill’s men currently have an inferior goal difference after their recent 3-0 defeat and would need a big win in their final game to overtake the Swedes, who only lost 1-0 in their second fixture.

IRELAND DRAW WITH ITALY

A draw in their final game, while a creditable result in its own right, is unlikely to be of much use to the Irish. If Belgium were to beat Sweden then it would move Ireland up to third in the table but, with just two points and a goal difference of -3 to their name, it seems likely that at least four other third-placed teams would finish with a superior record.

IRELAND LOSE TO ITALY

If Ireland were to be defeated in their final match then only a heavy defeat for Sweden against Belgium would keep them off the bottom of the Group E table. However, with just a single point to their name their participation in the tournament would surely be over regardless.

LIKELY KNOCKOUT OPPONENTS

If Ireland can win against Italy in their last match and finish third in Group E, they would be drawn against the winner of either Group A, B, C or D in the last 16. The current leaders of those four groups are a daunting quartet indeed: hosts France, rivals England, reigning world champions Germany or defending European champions Spain.

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