Giovanni Trapattoni accepts Republic of Ireland days are numbered with hope dwindling

Only an unlikely run of results can save the Italian while Wales and Scotland play for pride

Giovanni Trapattoni will lead the Republic of Ireland against Austria tonight for what should be one of the final games of his tenure. This is the business end of the qualification cycle now, when those teams who are not close to qualifying wonder why, and how things might be different next time.

After the Republic’s distressing, chastening 2-1 home defeat by Sweden on Friday night, they need an unlikely set of results – starting with a win in Vienna this evening, and then in Cologne next month – to stay in contention for second place in Group C.

The great likelihood, then, is that Ireland will not be in Brazil next summer. And Trapattoni acknowledged yesterday morning that this might be the end. “I don't expect after this campaign, to go again with Ireland.” There are some Irish fans who think he should not have been given this campaign either.

Germany, at the top of the group, can confirm first place tonight. They need Sweden to fail to win in Kazakhstan, and then they need to win in the Faeroe Islands. Even if it does not happen, Joachim Low’s team should complete the job next month while Sweden and Austria compete for second.

Ireland do, at least, have more to play for than Scotland and Wales, who play Macedonia away and Serbia at home respectively tonight. Gareth Bale will have a scan to determine whether he can play. Not very much will be at stake – those four sides are all out of the running in Group A, with Belgium and Croatia far ahead in first and second. They next play next month in Zagreb – a draw would win Belgium the group.

The next team, after Germany, most likely to confirm qualification this evening is Italy. Cesare Prandelli’s side are currently seven points clear in Group B of second-placed Bulgaria, whom they beat 1-0 on Friday in Palermo. Tonight they host Czech Republic at the Juventus Stadium in Turin, knowing a win will be enough. Mario Balotelli and Dani Osvaldo both return from suspension.

Beneath Italy, there is just one point separating the four teams competing for fourth place – Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Denmark and dark horses Armenia. That will not be resolved until the final game.

The Netherlands, coached by Louis Van Gaal, need other results to help them seal qualification tonight. But a win in Andorra would mean that, at most, only a goal difference disaster can stop them from winning group D. Results are going their way – they drew 2-2 in Estonia on Friday, Robin van Persie equalising with a 94 minute penalty – and they would not be tempting fate too flagrantly if they booked their flights this week.

Turkey, the second-favourites in that group, have struggled so far and need a result in Romania – who are three points ahead of them – or else they may miss the play-offs.

Group E looks even – with Switzerland four points clear and then just two points separating Norway, Albania, Iceland and Slovenia – but the Swiss can qualify tonight with a win in Oslo. Ottmar Hitzfeld would take this talented squad – with the creative talent of Xherdan Shaqiri, Valentin Stocker and Granit Xhaka – to his second consecutive World Cup. It would be the perfect recovery from Friday night, when Switzerland were 4-1 up against Iceland, and drew 4-4.

The tensest groups are those where nothing can be decided tonight. In Group F, Russia can climb back above Portugal with a win over Israel, who can themselves still win the group if they win all three of their remaining games. Northern Ireland, who can certainly take positives from this campaign, play in Luxembourg.

Bosnia, desperate to qualify for the first World Cup since independence, need a response in Slovakia this evening. They looked like running away with Group G, but a 1-0 home defeat on Friday to the same opposition leaves them tied on points with Greece, despite a 15-superior goal difference. Greece will probably keep getting results – Bosnia have no option but to bounce back.

Then, finally, there is Group I – the five-team oddity. France play in Belarus and if they do not win then Spain – currently three points clear and playing a friendly against Chile tonight, can win the group if they beat Belarus in Majorca next month.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine