With two games to play, a Portuguese team occupies second place, with 16 points, one less than the leader Serbia (17), who has another match played, so the duel with the Serbs, at Estádio da Luz, will take over always decisive, regardless of the success with the Irish, who are already mathematically removed from the race to Qatar, given the five points added.
Thus, in case of a win or draw in Dublin, Portugal only draws against the Balkans, in the last match, to seal automatic qualification, as only first place guarantees direct qualification, while second requires participation in the “play-offs”.
The triumph over the Republic of Ireland will put the team led by Fernando Santos isolated at the top of the group, with two points more than Serbia, and the draw also means the lead, in equal points, as the national team has an advantage in the difference of goals (16-4 against 16-8).
On the other hand, it is true that, get lost in the Irish capital, the team from the corners will be forced to beat Serbia to automatically guarantee a place in the finals of the World Cup, as they will enter the Estádio da Luz in the same situation as they are at this moment, that is, with one point less than the leader of the group .
The penultimate duel of qualifying Group A, in Dublin, takes place two months after the match at Estádio Algarve, no Portuguese qualification was losing to the Irish, but was eventually saved by captain Cristiano Ronaldo’s two goals, at 89 and 90 + 6 minutes, and ensured the triumph 2-1.
Despite the scenario that allows Portugal to guarantee qualification with two equals, Fernando Santos has already refused to think about anything other than winning in both games, starting as a coach against the Republic of Ireland, in a duel that he himself dubbed as “Final”, after the scare he went through in September.