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Sunday, 07 February 2010

Ireland must be pleased with Euro 2012 draw

After being so cruelly denied by the hand of Henry in the World Cup qualifiers, Ireland will have been hoping for better luck in the next qualifying section. And by the look of the Group B draw for Euro 2012 it appears that they have got it.

Euro 2012 GROUP B: Andorra, Armenia, Macedonia, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, Russia

Although only the group winners and the best runner-up from the nine groups, will progress automatically there is a safety net of a play-off for the other eight runners-up - but Ireland won't want to allow Uefa the chance to make up some new play-off rules. So can Ireland win group B and avoid the play-offs?

The three lowest ranked teams appear to offer little challenge to Ireland, but Slovakia and Russia will be an altogether tougher proposition. One slight benefit to Ireland is that with the exception of Andorra the other four teams will have to travel a long way to Ireland - suggesting that an already formidable home record will be polished. Admittedly the flipside will be long journeys for Ireland - but home form could well offer momentum that Russia and Slovakia may not get after tense regional entanglements with the likes of Macedonia and Armenia.

If Ireland uses home advantage properly then by winning the easier away games this could well be enough to top the group, especially if, as is likely, Slovakia and Russia drop points in their 'derby' games.

Prediction: Ireland to win Group B.

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