Following drama in their penultimate qualifiers, Poland and Republic of Ireland retain hope of sealing their place at Euro 2016 going into Sunday’s clash in Warsaw.
While Poland levelled deep into injury time to salvage a 2-2 draw against Scotland at Hampden Park, Martin O’Neill’s Ireland recorded a famous 1-0 win over world champions Germany in Dublin.
It means victory for either side will book a place at the continental competition in France next year while a draw could prove sufficient for both to secure a top-two berth if Germany lose to Georgia.
A win for Poland or Ireland would seal automatic qualification, with the losers entering the play-offs. If Germany avoid defeat at home to Georgia, a goalless or 1-1 draw would send Poland through alongside Joachim Low’s men.
Any draw of 2-2 or higher would take Ireland through while a German defeat would send the world champions into the play-offs.
Thursday’s two-goal hero Robert Lewandowski is likely to prove key for the hosts – having netted 14 times in his last five games for club and country.
“I am happy about every single goal but I would give back all the goals I’ve scored in the last two or three games for the national team for a qualification spot for France,” the Bayern Munich striker told UEFA.com.
“That is the most important thing, it doesn’t matter how many goals I’ve scored. I have to play to help the team and try to score more goals. Maybe if we win against Ireland then it will all be okay.
“We have an opportunity to qualify directly for France, we are playing in front of our fans, they are our 12th man and I hope we will make it on Sunday.”
O’Neill’s men have found form at the right time in their bid to feature at back-to-back Championships for the first time – winning their last three games without conceding a goal.
Captain John O’Shea believes Aiden McGeady’s late winner against Georgia in their opening qualifier back in September last year set the tone for the attitude within the Irish camp and backed his team-mates to finish the job in Warsaw.
“The belief and attitude of this squad gave us a lot of belief we could get the result [against Germany] and thankfully we did,” he told the Football Association of Ireland’s official website.
“From the start of the campaign when Aiden scored that late goal in Georgia you could sense we had a belief in the squad.
“When we beat Georgia and Gibraltar, we gave ourselves the chance to get back in the automatic qualification race.
“Germany have Georgia at home and you’d expect them to beat Georgia but we know we can cause Poland lots of problems away from home.
“They’ll be confident they can cause us problems but we’ve kept Germany out and hopefully we can keep Poland out as well.”