Northern Ireland need a turn of fortunes in their remaining Nations League games

Northern Ireland face an uphill battle to secure a place in Pot Four for the forthcoming Euro 2024 qualifying draw.

Uefa has confirmed it will use Nations League rankings to determine which pot each nation will be placed in for the draw, which will be staged in Frankfurt on October 9.

That means it’s likely that Ian Baraclough’s struggling team will need to secure at least four points from their forthcoming encounters with Kosovo and Greece to avoid dropping into Pot Five with the likes of Malta and Moldova.

If Northern Ireland are sent crashing into Pot Five, they will be handed an incredibly difficult qualifying group, which will feature four nations — including the possibility of two European heavyweights — ranked above them in the Fifa listings.

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Baraclough’s men can avoid this fate and move into Pot Four if they either finish second in Group B of Nations League C, or they are one of the two best third-placed finishers in League C.

As things stand, the men in green sit in third in Group B, four points behind tomorrow’s opponents Kosovo.

To finish in second spot and place in Pot Four, Northern Ireland must win in Belfast tomorrow and outperform Alain Giresse’s Kosovo team on Tuesday night.

That’s a massive ask as Kosovo host minnows Cyprus, while Baraclough’s charges visit group winners Greece, in the final round of Nations League fixtures.

A more likely pathway into Pot Four is by being one of the best two third-placed finishers in League C.

However, even that is a tall task.

While Northern Ireland have just two points, the other third placed teams — Faroe Islands (4), Azerbaijan (4), Bulgaria (3) — have more.

Things could get even worse for boss Baraclough if Cyprus outperform Northern Ireland in this week’s final two Nations League C fixtures.

If that happens, the Cypriots will steal third spot and NI will finish bottom of Group B of League C.

That does not, however, mean Northern Ireland will be automatically relegated to League D for the next Nations League campaign. Instead, they will face the humiliation of a two-legged relegation play-out, due to be played in March 2023.

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As things stand, the bottom-placed teams set to drop into those play-offs are Lithuania, Belarus and Gibraltar.

The two losers will join the division for Uefa’s basement sides that includes the likes of San Marino and Liechtenstein.

A total of 23 teams will join host Germany at Euro 2024. For qualification, there will be 10 groups of either five or six teams. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the finals.

Three spots will be decided via the Nations League, with a four-team play-off pathway for League A, League B and League C. However there will be no play-off for League D — unlike in Euro 2020 when North Macedonia qualified via the bottom division — which means Nations League relegation would be a double blow for Northern Ireland.

While it is sometimes said that Nations League is of little significance, this week’s fixtures are of vital importance to Baraclough and his Northern Ireland team.

Tagging: euro cup today match.

via: Belfast Telegraph.

Over 400 games live on Premier Sports in the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League and the European Qualifiers to UEFA EURO 2024. Exclusive coverage of 60 games featuring Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland men's teams from June 2022 to June 2024.

Over 400 games live on Premier Sports in the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League and the European Qualifiers to UEFA EURO 2024. Exclusive coverage of 60 games featuring Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland men's teams from June 2022 to June 2024.

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