With the final round of Nations League fixtures starting this week, there is still plenty to be settled for Gibraltar, and we take a look at all the potential outcomes both in terms of the group, and the national team’s potential seeding in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Photo (C) Rough & Ready
Nations League – League D Group 4 – Permutations:
Finishing 1st – It may seem unlikely, but all four teams in Group D can still finish first. For Gibraltar, they would need to firstly beat Armenia on Friday. After that, it depends on the result between Macedonia and Liechtenstein on the same night. If Macedonia win, then Gibraltar would need to overcome the task of beating Macedonia by two clear goals (except for 2-0, where Macedonia would likely qualify on goals scored in the group).
Should Gibraltar win, and Macedonia fail to beat Liechtenstein, then the task becomes simpler – Gib would have to win by any result in Skopje to finish first. A draw at home on Friday only keeps Gibraltar in the running if Macedonia fail to beat Liechtenstein.
Should Gibraltar lose to Armenia, first is almost entirely out of the question, as it would require Gib bouncing back to beat Macedonia, and Liechtenstein beating both Macedonia and Armenia – at which point all 4 teams would end on nine points and it would have to go down to goal difference (which Gibraltar are currently five goals worse off than Macedonia in).
Finishing 2nd – Still a massive achievement from the team, second place could mathematically be secured on Friday, should Gibraltar beat Armenia. If they draw, then Gibraltar simply need to match Armenia’s result on Monday night to secure second place, while a loss by any score other than 1-0, means that Gibraltar would mathematically be unable to finish second, on the head-to-head role (presuming Macedonia avoid defeat to Liechtenstein at home on Friday).
Finishing 3rd – The most likely of the four positions Gibraltar will end up is third place – which leaves them with the potential to avoid Pot 6 of the Euro 2020 Qualifiers (more on that below). Any combination of results would see Gibraltar finish at worse third, as long as Liechtenstein fail to win against either Macedonia or Armenia.
A draw on Friday, combined with Macedonia beating Liechtenstein, would secure third place with a game spare, while a win vs Armenia, and Liechtenstein failing to beat Macedonia would also secure the same outcome.
If Gibraltar lose to Armenia and Liechtenstein beat Macedonia, then Gibraltar would need to better Liechtenstein’s result on Matchday 6 to secure third – a Gib loss and Liechtenstein draw would mean that Gibraltar would need to match Liechtenstein’s result on Matchday 6. Should both teams lose on Matchday 5, Gibraltar either need a point against Macedonia or hope Armenia don’t lose to Liechtenstein, in order to secure third.
Finishing 4th – The worst of the four outcomes, and one Gibraltar would not deserve after the work they have put in so far, but bottom of the group is still realistically possible.,
Realistically, it would involve Gib losing to both Armenia and Macedonia, while Liechtenstein beat one of the two teams, as they have a better head-to-head goal difference record. Two draws for Liechtenstein and two defeats for Gib would not send Gib to the bottom of the group, while a point for Gib in Matchday 5 or 6 would make it even harder for Liechtenstein to finish third (if they get a result against a Macedonia side who also need the points to try and secure promotion).
UEFA Euro 2020 – Qualifying Seeds – Permutations:
At the time of writing, Gibraltar can end up in Pot 4, 5 or 6 for next month’s Euro 2020 qualifying draw, which takes place in Dublin on December. Below, we look at where Gibraltar could end up, and how
Pot 4 – almost impossible in truth as only one League D side finishes in Pot 4. Gibraltar would need to beat Armenia and Liechtenstein, hope Georgia lose to Andorra and Kazakhstan, Luxembourg fail to take more than 3 points against Belarus and Macedonia, with Belarus also failing to beat San Marino, Kosovo fail to take more than 4 points from games vs Malta and Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan lose to the Faroe Islands. So, 99.999% Pot 4 is not going to happen, but it still is a possibility via the above permutations.
Pot 5 – A much more realistic end position for Gibraltar, they would need to ensure a top three position in Group 4 of League D. However, the worst third place team in League D drops to Pot 6, so Gibraltar may need a few results to swing their way if they lose to Armenia and Macedonia.
There are untold possibilities for how Gib could finish in pot 3, but the most likely one involves Group 1, where Kazakhstan, Andorra and Latvia are all on fewer points than Gibraltar. On Thursday afternoon, Kazakhstan take on Latvia in Astana. Should the home side win, and Georgia beat Andorra later that evening, then a third place finish for Gibraltar guarantees Pot 3, as whoever comes third of Andorra and Latvia will get a maximum of five points, to Gibraltar’s current tally of six.
Should Latvia beat Kazakhstan, then Gibraltar would require Georgia to beat Kazakhstan on Matchday 6 to see them finish on five points and in third (if Andorra fail to pick up 4 points or greater across both games). A draw between Latvia and Kazakhstan makes it more complex, as third place would also likely finish on six points, and then other groups would likely come into play for who finishes the worst of the third place sides. Of course, Gibraltar taking points in Matchday 5 or 6 would make life a lot easier for everyone.
Pot 6 – If Gibraltar finish last, they are guaranteed Pot 6, while as mentioned above, finishing as the worst of the third-place sides also secures a spot in the bottom pot of teams.
It is worth noting finishing Pot 5 does not guarantee Gibraltar draw a team from Pot 6, as there are five groups of five teams, and five groups of six teams in the Euro 2020 Qualifying tournament. The only thing to note would be that finishing in Pot 6 means Gib can’t draw any of the League A group winners, as they are guaranteed five-team groups due to have their final Nations League tournament next summer. And of course, Gibraltar can not be drawn vs Spain due to the UEFA ruling in place since Gib joined.
As you can see, there are untold permutations that could unravel over the next week – but for the players and the national team as a whole, the most important thing is to go out there against Armenia and Macedonia and simply do the best job they can.