Serbia vs Republic of Ireland preview

September 4, 2016
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Ireland vs EnglandFollowing some very disappointing results, Serbia hope to enjoy a winning start to the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign at Stadion Rajko Mitic.

They will be up against Republic of Ireland, a team that did well to reach the Euro 2016 knockout stages, while also hammering Oman 4-0 on Wednesday.

Even though they have players plying their trade in top European clubs, Serbia have been utterly disappointing on the international stage of late.

It’s now been 16 years since they last qualified for a major tournament, with Slavoljub Muslin now in charge of the national team.

The Eagles did well to beat Cyprus and Israel before sharing spoils with Russia, but the Ireland game will be their first serious test.

The problem is that key men Nemanja Matic and Aleksandar Kolarov are both suspended, while Nikola Maksimovic and Adem Ljajic have been overlooked.

Marko Grujic and Nemanja Maksimovic will play for the Under-21 side against Italy, whereas Andrija Zivkovic is doubtful through injury.

Having lost three of last four qualifiers at home, Serbia will have to show massive improvement against Ireland, and it is important to note that the fans are not exactly 100% behind the team at the moment.

Probable starting line-up (3-4-3): Stojkovic – Ivanovic, Rajkovic, Nastasic – Rukavina, Milivojevic, Gudelj, D. Tosic – Tadic, Mitrovic, Kostic.

Republic of Ireland have been raising their profile of late, having qualified for successive European Championship finals, and they were pretty solid at the Euro 2016 in France.

A late goal against Italy proved enough to secure a place in the knockout stage and they even came close to upsetting hosts France, albeit losing the game 2-1 after Shane Duffy had been sent off.

The national team icon Robbie Keane has since retired from international football, with Shane Long and Jonathan Walters the only strikers in the squad for the Serbia clash.

Buoyed by the 4-0 friendly win over Oman, Republic of Ireland can be backed at 4.20 (16/5) to win in Serbia, but that will be no easy task.

Everton midfielder James McCarthy has been ruled out through a groin problem, while David Forde has rejected a call-up. Seamus Coleman and John O’Shea face fitness tests.

Kevin Doyle, Darron Gibson and Shane Duffy were all overlooked, while Bristol City midfielder Callum O’Dowda has made the cut.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Randolph – Coleman, Wilson, Clark, Brady – Whelan, Quinn – Walters, Hoolahan, McClean – Long.

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