The line-up for the 2020 European Championship is almost complete and figuring out how we got here will require 500 points in next year's CAO.
The good news is that most of the complicated business is over and Ireland's path to the tournament is now quite straightforward. Kind of. Having finished third in the group behind Switzerland and Denmark, we face the familiar scenario of needing to win a play-off in order to join the party next summer. However, this time the play-offs will be a little different to what we're used to.
Rather than having to overcome one other nation over two legs, Ireland are now faced with the task of winning a one-off game away to Slovakia on March 26. The winner of this game will then play the winner of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Northern Ireland on March 31. A draw will take place this coming Friday to determine which country has home advantage in the final.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) November 19, 2019
What this all means is that if Ireland get past Slovakia and Northern Ireland dispose of Bosnia, we're faced with the derby of all derbies to decide which set of Boys In Green will qualify for Euro 2020. Whether it takes place in Dublin or Belfast, the atmosphere is sure to be electric as Mick McCarthy's men go head-to-head with Michael O'Neill's side with everything at stake.
Before we can think about that though, we've got a trip to Bratislava to deal with. Like Ireland, Slovakia finished third in their group by collecting 13 points over eight games. However, they racked up 13 goals compared to Ireland's seven and only lost once at home, to last year's World Cup finalists Croatia.
Whatever happens, the Green Army are sure to be out in force in the Slovakian capital towards the end of March. If Ireland do manage to qualify, we are guaranteed to play two games at the Aviva Stadium next summer, which is a pretty decent reward. A major tournament taking place in Dublin with us not being involved doesn't really bear thinking about so let's hope Mick and the lads can get the job done.