Wales will be out to get revenge on Serbia for the 6-1 defeat in the reverse fixture when they take on them in Cardiff, but avoiding third straight qualifying loss will be no easy task. The Eagles may be out of contention for places in Brazil, but they are likely to be encouraged by the outstanding showing against bitter rivals Croatia.
Bale still not fit to start
Having showed a great deal of potential in the past few years, this was the qualifying campaign in which Wales were expected to finally try and qualify for a major tournament, but the Dragons were very unfortunate to be placed in arguably the toughest qualifying group. And while Chris Coleman’s side managed to record two victories over neighbours Scotland, they utterly failed in their attempt to match the strongest sides in the group. Having lost all four matches against Serbia, Croatia and Belgium, Wales are clearly not yet ready to match Europe’s best sides, and no doubt the 6-1 defeat in Novi Sad will add an extra pressure ahead of the return match against Serbia. The problem is that the Dragons are far from the desired form, as witnessed by the 2-1 defeat in FYR Macedonia, while they clearly lack replacements for the likes of Bale, Williams and Allen, who will not be in the starting line-up. They also have the misfortune of facing Serbia at the time when their opponents are playing the best football of the qualifying campaign, so don’t be surprised if Wales suffer the third straight defeat in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Captain Ashley Williams misses out through suspension, while Joe Allen and Jonny Williams are out injured and Sam Ricketts is doubtful. Chris Coleman has revealed that Gareth Bale will not be in the starting line-up.
Serbia better than results are showing
The reality is that boss Sinisa Mihajlovic has made quite a few mistakes in his attempt to rejuvenate the national team, but it is also important to say that his side have played some excellent football during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. The 6-1 triumph over Wales was one of their best performances, but it should be noted that the Eagles also impressed against top sides in Group A. Many believed that Serbia would be unable to cope with the pressure ahead of the derby game against Croatia, with the fans turning their back on the deal and World Cup dream already over, but the hosts produced a stunning performance to completely outclass their more illustrious opponents and were terribly unfortunate not to have won the game. Nevertheless, while the atmosphere in the team has been significantly improved, the players are also brimming with confidence after such a good display and that should keep them in good stead for the Wales match. Serbia, too, have some important missings at the moment, but on the plus side, they have much better replacements than their next opponents.
Nemanja Matic misses out through suspension, while Miralem Sulejmani and Dusan Basta are injured and Radosav Petrovic is doubtful. Neven Subotic has withdrawn from the squad.
Wales have yet to prove they can match the best sides in the group, having lost all four matches to top 3 teams, and while they can be trusted to fare better than in Novi Sad, everything suggests another defeat is on the cards. Meanwhile, Serbia seem to have finally hit top form and they look a good bet to win in Cardiff.
Top pick: Away win 2.62 (13/8) @ Paddy Power
Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals 2.40 (7/5) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Serbia to score two or more 3.00 (2/1) @ Coral
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