Wales are just two wins away from Euro 2020 qualification as things stand despite what’s happened this week
Ryan Giggs admitted Wales are now relying on others in their bid to qualify for Euro 2020.
Back-to-back defeats to Croatia and Hungary severely hampered the Red Dragons’ hopes of reaching next year’s summer tournament.
But the inaugural Nations League could yet come to Wales’ rescue if their struggles in Group E continue.
And they could yet be only two wins away from qualifying for the Euros.
Here’s the whole complicated situation explained in full.
Four sides guaranteed themselves a place in the play-offs by topping their Nations League groups in 2018.
They are as follows:
League A: England, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland.
League B: Bosnia, Denmark, Sweden, Ukraine.
League C: Finland, Norway, Serbia, Scotland.
League D: Belarus, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia.
All of the sides listed above could qualify for Euro 2020 via the traditional route, meaning play-off places would then be up for grabs for countries like Wales who didn’t top their Nations League groups.
How play-off places are passed on
If any of the 16 teams listed above reach Euro 2020 via the usual format, their play-off place will be allocated to the next best ranked team in the same league.
So using Wales’ Nations League group as an example, if Bosnia (the best ranked League B side) qualify through the regular system, their play-off place will go to Russia.
If the Russians also qualify, it would then go to Austria, and if they also qualified, it would then go to Wales, and so on.
So what needs to happen for Wales to earn a play-off spot?
Wales could actually end up playing in either the League A or League B play-offs, depending on which sides qualify from each one via the usual Euros route.
Crucially, Giggs’ team will be guaranteed a play-off spot if at least three of the following six sides DO qualify ‘normally’: Bosnia, Denmark, Sweden, Ukraine, Russia and Austria.
The reason for this is that Wales are currently ranked 19th out of the 55 UEFA sides following the conclusion of the inaugural Nations League group stage.
It means they are three places behind the quartet of Bosnia, Denmark, Sweden and Ukraine, who were the four group winners from the four League B pots.
So if three or more of the aforementioned sides qualify in the traditional manner, UEFA will be able to allocate a play-off spot to Wales due to their position in the rankings as they would move into the top four League B spots.
As things stand, Denmark are currently second in Group D, Sweden are third in Group F, Ukraine top Group B, Bosnia are fifth in Group J, Russia are second in Group I and Austria are third in Group G.
If things were to finish that way, Wales would have a play-off place as three of the teams above them would qualify automatically.
But there’s a fair way to go yet, of course, and Wales will still hope to book their place at Euro 2020 by finishing in the top two of Group E.
However, the play-offs could definitely provide Giggs’ troops with a back door route.
Could they reach the play-offs any other way?
Potentially. This is where it gets really complicated.
If the top 11 sides in the Nations League rankings (Switzerland, Portugal, Netherlands, England, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland and Germany) all qualified ‘normally’, Wales would get a play-off spot in League A along with Iceland, Russia and Austria (providing that those three didn’t qualify), if Bosnia, Ukraine, Denmark and Sweden didn’t qualify and went into the League B play-offs.
So all is not lost, whatever happens in the Euro qualifiers for Wales.
When is the draw for the play-offs, when are the games?
It takes place on November 22, shortly after the Euro 2020 qualifiers are completed.
The play-offs will then be held in March next year.
Each group will have two single leg semi-finals, with the higher ranked teams having home advantage.
The winners will progress to the final, with the hosts of that game decided by a draw.
The victor from each of the four finals will earn a ticket to Euro 2020.