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Republic of Ireland or Wales, who qualifies for Russia 2018?

Friday 30th June 2017
Wales battled to a draw away at Serbia, whilst Ireland had Jonathan Walters to thank for saving them from Austria at the death. Ireland will have ambitions of an automatic spot, whereas Wales' realistic route of qualification for Russia 2018 is via the play-offs.

Martin O'Neill's team currently occupy that spot, so to sneak into second place they will have to better Ireland's results.

So, is it possible? The next round of matches is scheduled for the beginning of September and will send with the two sides meeting at Cardiff City Stadium on October 9th. We take a look at how we believe the two sides will fare during the rest of their World Cup Qualifying campaign.

Wales v Austria: 3 points

2nd September - Cardiff City Stadium

You would expect Wales to beat Austria at home in September. The Dragons will have a returning Gareth Bale and the support of 30,000 vocal Welshmen. This is a game Wales will simply have to win and it is likely that Chris Coleman's side will rise to the challenge.

Georgia v Ireland: 1 point

2nd September - Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena

Ireland, on the other hand, faces a daunting trip to Georgia. This is not a game that the Irish will relish - although the Georgians have lost to both Austria and Serbia at home, this will surely be a test for O'Neil's side. Austria and Serbia boast talents, in David Alaba and Dusan Tadic, that can turn a game, whereas such magic is missing in the Irish set up. Ireland's attack is not likely to have enough fire-power to clinch 3 points.

Moldova v Wales: 3 points

5th September, Zimbru Stadium

Wales dispatched of Moldova 4-0 in their opening match and will be looking to replicate such a scoreline. It is hard to see anything other than a Welsh victory.

Ireland v Serbia: 1 point

5th September, Aviva Stadium

This is likely to be a nervy affair. Both sides will still be battling for an automatic spot and, as a result, will be on edge. This game has all the earmarks of a 0-0; if anything, Serbia is the likelier to pick up 3 points here.

Georgia v Wales: 3 points

6th October - Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena

Wales should beat Georgia away. They drew 1-1 at home and were fairly fortunate to do so, but at this stage in the campaign, Georgia will have little to play for. It will still be a tough ask, however, and Wales might have to rely on the individual brilliance of Aaron Ramsey or Bale.

Ireland v Moldova: 3 points

6th October, Aviva Stadium 

It would be a huge surprise if the Irish fell at home to Moldova and one would expect them to win this match comfortably.

Thus, Wales have collected nine points, whereas Ireland has collected five. This would put both teams on the same amount of points heading into the final group game. The football Gods seems to have aligned this one, as both sides meet in what will probably be a deciding match in Group D.

Wales v Ireland: Wales to win.

9th October, Cardiff City Stadium

Wales, with the backing of their home support, should see Ireland off. It will be a tense match, but the superior talent that Wales have will push them over the line. Again, it might be a match where Ramsey and Bale produce.

There we have it, then. Wales will have to win four wins on the spin and hope the Irish slip up against Serbia and Georgia to book their tickets to Russia 2018. Even if the Irish beat Georgia, the gap would still be vulnerable - standing at two points. This promises to be one of the most dramatic finishes to a World Cup qualification campaign in recent history.
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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