Scotland and Germany grab favorable wins for Greece
Scotland and Germany defeated Slovakia and Northern Ireland on Thursday, two results that favor Greece in the fight for a runner-up playoff spot.
Results on Thursday went in Greece’s favor as our Ethniki look to claim a World Cup qualifying playoff spot for November. As explained in depth in a previous article, Greece’s fate to reach the November playoffs depend on results within Group H, but also results from the other groups. On Thursday, three groups were in action and Greek fans had their eyes on certains games, hoping for certain outcomes. That was explained here.
The best result of the day (as of now) looks to be Scotland’s late win over Slovakia. An 89th minute own goal from Skrtel gave Scotland a big victory over 10-man Slovakia (PAOK’s Robert Mak was sent off for diving), putting them in the driver's seat for second place in their group. In the same group, England secured their place in the World Cup with a win over Slovenia, a result Greek fans were hoping for.
Germany thumped Northern Ireland 1-3 in another beneficial outcome for Greece, although Northern Ireland’s late consolation goal could play a vital role in their runner-up goal differential in the end.
Denmark defeated Montenegro on the road and will surely claim second place in their group and finish ahead of Greece in the runner-up standings.
Below is a recap of today’s results that affect Greece’s fight for a runner-up playoff spot.
Group C: Northern Ireland - Germany 1 - 3
- What Greece needed: Germany Win
- Germany defeated Northern Ireland and secured a place in the World Cup meaning Northern Ireland will surely finish second in the group. Northern Ireland’s loss keeps them within Greece’s striking distance in the runner-up standings. For Greece to surpass Northern Ireland in the standings, NIR must lose their final match away to Norway, putting Greece and Northern Ireland tied on points (assuming Greece defeat Cyprus and Gibraltar). If this is the case, the tie-breaker will be goal differential, taking into account games against teams ranked 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th in the respective groups.
- Greece are currently at +3 and will got to at minimum +4 with a win against Cyprus while Northern Ireland are currently at +5 and with a loss to Norway, will surely move to +4. Then next tiebreaker is goals scored. Northern Ireland are at 10 and Greece are at 7 and will be at minimum 8 if they defeat Cyprus. Currently, for Greece to surpass Northern Ireland, Greece must defeat Cyprus by two goals or more OR Northern Ireland must lose to Norway by two goals or more.
Group E: Montenegro - Denmark 0 - 1
- What Greece need: Draw (at minimum Montenegro win)
- Denmark’s win over Montenegro is not a good result for Greece. The Danes will likely claim second spot in the group and can do so with a win, draw or even a loss to Romania (if Montenegro fail to defeat Poland on matchday 10) on the final matchday. Denmark only need a draw to mathematically finish ahead of Greece in the runner-up standings, however even if they lose at home to Romania, their current runner-up goal differential is at +7 while Greece sit back at +3. This group looks to be out of reach for the Ethniki.
Group F: England - Slovenia 1 - 0
- What Greece need: England Win or Draw
- England defeated Slovenia to mathematically secure a place in the FIFA World Cup. Their result is a good one for Greece as Slovenia cannot surpass Greece in the runner-ups standings if they finish second in their respective group. However, it does not look as if Slovenia will finish second in the group as they need to defeat Scotland on matchday 10 and hope Slovakia drop points at home to Malta.
Group F: Scotland - Slovakia 1 - 0
- What Greece need: Scotland win (at minimum a draw)
- The best news of the day came out of Scotland as the the home side defeated Slovakia with a late own goal from Skrtel in the 89th minute. The win put Scotland into second place of the group, two ahead of Slovakia and three ahead of Slovenia. They currently control their fate for second place in the group.
- The result means that Slovakia CANNOT surpass Greece in the runner-up standings, if they manage to re-take second spot on the final matchday (assuming Greece defeats Cyprus). Thus, only Scotland can surpass Greece in the runner-up standings and they can do so ONLY if they defeat Slovenia on the road on mactdhay 10. Any other result (draw or Slovenia win), will GUARANTEE Greece finish ahead of the Group F runner-up, meaning our Ethniki will go to November’s playoffs. If Greece re-take second spot on Saturday, all eyes will be on Sunday’s matchup between Slovenia and Scotland with hopes for a Slovenia win or a draw.
A reminder, all this is hypothetical and actual means something IF Greece defeat Cyprus and Bosnia draw or lose to Belgium on Saturday.