Republic of Ireland vs Serbia

September 4, 2017
By: Milos Markovic

Having drawn each of their last three World Cup qualifying matches, republic of Ireland are under pressure to grab all three points against the in-form Serbia who are sitting at the summit of Group D with only three matches to go.

A must-win for Ireland

Republic of Ireland failed to keep up the pace behind leaders Serbia having played a lackluster 1-1 draw in Tbilisi on Saturday. The Irish were off to a positive start against Georgia with defender Shane Duffy putting his side in front with a first-half header, but the hosts got back on terms through Valeri Qazaishvili 11 minutes before the break. The Boys in Green ended up being dominated by their rivals in terms of possession and goal attempts leaving Georgia looking the more likely winners throughout the proceedings.  Martin O’Neill’s men now trail Serbia by two points and head into the Tuesday’s crucial game determined to get back up on their feet. Knowing that only the group winners will be guaranteed a place in the next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia, Republic of Ireland want to put in their best performance to leapfrog Serbia and grab the driving wheel. Ireland might be unbeaten in this qualifying campaign but they will need to step it up a notch if they want to get anything more than a draw against in-form Serbia.

Jeff Hendrick is expected to be fit to feature following a thigh issue that ruled him out of the Saturday’s match. Striker David McGoldrick could return to the squad after being relieved of his duties to celebrate the birth of his latest child. Preston’s Sean Maguire is being touted as possible replacement if McGoldrick failed to return in time.

Serbia on the run

Undefeated in their last 10 matches, Serbia have shown great deal of improvement under the guidance of the experienced tactician Slavoljub Muslin. The Serbs are known as a country with plenty of footballing talent, but their national side has thus far been unable to harness the individual quality. It’s been a while since Serbia last appeared at a major international tournament and grabbing that Russian visa is the absolute must for the talented generation led by the likes of Southampton playmaker Dusan Tadic, Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic and Newcastle United striker Alksandar Mitrovic among others. Sitting atop of Group D, the Eagles headed into the double header against Moldova and Ireland looking to open a sizable lead at the summit and get one huge step closer to booking their place in Russia. The comfortable and utterly controlling 3-0 win over Moldova on Saturday can be interpreted as a huge statement ahead of their trip to Dublin. Muslin is, however, expected to adopt a more cautious approach and field a more defensively oriented side for the Tuesday’s match. A point will do for Serbia at this time, whereas the Eagles will not hesitate to try and hurt Irish on the counters whenever given the possibility.

Slavoljub Muslin will have his first-choice goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic returning from suspension, whereas Antonio Rukavina should also shake off a muscle knock he picked during the last match for Villarreal. Mijat Gacinovic impressed against Moldova and could be given an extended run in the team.


Both Ireland and Serbia have plenty to fight for as they look to extend their unbeaten streaks and get one step closer to Russia. Ireland’s last four matches went under 2.5 goals and this could be a valuable option to consider, whereas another draw could very much be on the cards for the Irish.

Top pick: Under 2.5 goals   1.60 (3/5) @SportingBet

Alternative pick 1: Draw   3.12 (85/40) @BetVictor

Alternative pick 2: Serbia draw no bet   1.91 (10/11) @WilliamHill

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