IN a twist-laden night of football, Cymru’s hopes of automatic qualification for Euro 2024 suffered significant blows. Shocking results in Group D last night have left Rob Page’s squad facing an uphill battle.
Group D Drama
Thursday night’s fixtures saw Latvia stun Armenia with a 2-0 victory, providing Cymru with a glimmer of hope. However, a historic defeat for Croatia at the hands of Turkey, thanks to Burak Yilmaz’s decisive strike, widened the gap between Cymru and the top two positions in the group. Croatia’s unassailable home record was shattered, but the Cymru team’s prospects dimmed further.
As it stands, Turkey leads the group with 13 points, followed closely by Croatia at 10 points. Armenia, despite their loss, cling to third place with 7 points, while Cymru shares the same points but lags behind due to goal difference. Latvia, with 3 points, trails at the bottom.
Cymru’s Path Forward
Cymru now faces a daunting challenge. With only three games left, they must secure victories in all matches, including crucial home encounters against Croatia and Turkey. Their focus has shifted from chasing Turkey to challenging Croatia, who holds a three-point advantage and a superior goal difference. Cymru must defeat Croatia and then triumph against Armenia and Turkey while hoping for Croatia to slip up in their remaining matches against Latvia and Armenia.
Slim Chances and Play-off Prospects
Realistically, Cymru’s chances of breaking into the top two are slim. However, if Turkey falters against Latvia and Cymru win all their games, there exists a mathematical possibility for Cymru to leapfrog Turkey into second place. While unlikely, surprises in football are not unprecedented, as demonstrated by Latvia’s win over Armenia.
If automatic qualification eludes them, Cymru will rely on the play-offs. Despite losing their top-tier Nations League status, Cymru has a play-off spot secured due to higher-ranked teams in the Nations League standings likely securing automatic qualification. The play-offs, scheduled for March 21 and 26, 2024, offer a lifeline for Cymru to secure a spot in Germany next summer.
In summary, Cymru faces a daunting challenge, needing a perfect run of victories and relying on favourable outcomes in other fixtures to secure their place in Euro 2024. As the drama unfolds, Welsh fans are left on the edge of their seats, hoping for a miraculous turn of events.