What results Greece need to go to playoffs
On Saturday, Greece reclaimed second place in Group H after defeating Cyprus and Bosnia’s loss to Belgium. AGONAsport.com breaks down the results Greece need to avoid finishing as the last placed runner-up and go to the playoffs.
After Saturday’s results, Greece are back in business for a playoff spot as they hold onto second place in Group H. The Ethniki need a win over Gibraltar at home on the final matchday to secure second place in the group, however second spot in the group does not guarantee a place in the November playoffs.
The Format for Ranking Runner-Ups
Only EIGHT out of the nine runner-ups will advance to the playoffs, where they will be paired into two-legged matches for the final four European tickets to the 2018 World Cup. Greece are currently at risk of being the runner-up that is left out of the playoff mix.
The eight best runner-ups will be decided via their results (points obtained) against the teams ranked 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th in their respective groups while the matches against the last placed team (6th) in each group will NOT count towards the runner-up standings OR goal differential. In Greece’s case, the results against Gibraltar will not count towards the runner-up standings (including Tuesday’s match). The second criteria (if points obtained is equal) will be goal differential, again taking into account only games played against the teams ranked 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th in the respective groups. The third tiebreaker is goals forced.
The Results Greece Need
Greece need only ONE (not all) of these five realistic results to happen to finish as one of the eight best runner-ups and go to November’s playoffs (assuming the Ethniki defeats Gibraltar). Below are the five options going into the final day. If none of these outcomes happen, Greece will finish as the worst runner-up and miss out on the playoffs.
Group F (Sunday): Slovenia – Scotland
- What Greece need: Slovenia win or draw
- Explanation: This game looks to be Greece’s best chance to grab a playoff spot as Scotland will need to win away to Slovenia on matchday 10 to avoid being the last placed runner-up nation. Anything other than a Scotland win will ENSURE Greece a place in the playoffs.
Group C (Sunday): Norway – Northern Ireland
- What Greece need: Norway win by two goals or more.
- Explanation: If Norway defeat Northern Ireland, Greece and Northern Ireland will finish tied on 19 points and their tie breaker will be settled by goal differential (considering goals only from teams ranked 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th placed teams in their respective groups). Northern Ireland are currently at +5, but a loss to Norway will see them move to +4 while Greece are at +4. The next tie breaker is goals scored, which benefits Northern Ireland. Thus, Greece need Norway to defeat Northern Ireland by two or more goals so Greece can have a superior goal differential compared to Northern Ireland.
Group D (Monday): Wales – Ireland
- What Greece need: Draw, Ireland Win (by two goals or less)
- Explanation: If this match ends in a draw or if Ireland win by two goals or less, Greece will be in the playoffs. If Wales win, they will surpass Greece in the runner-up standings. If Ireland win by three goals or more they will be tied with Greece at 19 points. Greece are at +4 goal differential while Ireland are at +1. If Ireland win by 3 goals, they will be tied with Greece at +4 goal differential and the next tie-breaker is goals scored. If Ireland score four goals or more, they will finish ahead of Greece (1-4, 2-5), however a 0-3 win will put them tied with Greece at nine goals scored. The next tie-breaker is fair play points.
Group D (Monday): Serbia – Georgia
- What Greece Need: Draw or Georgia win
- Explanation: Serbia’s loss away to Austria benefited Greece as another slip up against Georgia will leave them behind Greece in the runner-up standings. Although this match looks a long shot for Georgia, it is another outlet for Greece to make it to the playoffs.
Group I (Monday): Ukraine – Croatia
- What Greece need: draw
- Explanation: Finland scored a late equalizer against Croatia on Friday as the two teams played to a 1-1 draw, a great result for Greece. This result means that if Ukraine and Croatia play to a draw on Monday, Greece will finish ahead of the Group I runner-up. If either team wins, they will finish ahead of Greece in the runner-up standings.
*Group E is also mathematically alive for Greece, however this group seems extremely unlikely. Denmark would have to lose to Romania by four goals on the final matchday to finish behind Greece on goal differential. Another option is if Denmark lose to Romania and Montenegro defeat Poland on the road to claim second place, meaning Greece and Montenegro will finish tied on points. The tie-breaker will be goal differential. Both options seem very unlikely and should not be looked at as a realistic scenario.
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