Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 11/10
Group D leaders Serbia will only need a point from their clash in Vienna to secure a World Cup berth. Fourth-placed Austria are mathematically still in play for the play-off place but Das Team will have a steep mountain to climb.
Manager Marcel Koller has endured a torrid time at the national team during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying and heading into the final two matches in Group D the 56-year-old tactician is pretty given the opportunity to say farewell due to the fact the OFB will not be extending his contract.
The World Cup qualifying campaign came as quite the contrast to Austria’s undefeated road to Euro 2016. However, Austrians have been going from one disappointment to another and it seems as if the manager Marcel Koller has shouldered all of the blame. Two wins in eight qualifiers is a record unworthy of Austria’s stature and it is fair to say that Austrians will be keen to end this torrid campaign as soon as possible. Das Team have a mountain to climb in front of them with unbeaten Serbia before travelling to Moldova and will be hoping to get anything out of the forthcoming two games simply to improve the overall impression. The situation with injuries, however, brings little to be optimistic about.
Austria head into the final two qualifiers without their biggest star David Alaba who has to withdraw due to an injury.
Martin Harnik, Alessandro Schopf, Martin Hinteregger and Marcel Sabitzer are also out of the squad through injuries.
Slavoljub Muslin has managed to steady the ship despite great doubt from the Serbian public. Muslin’s selection choices have been questioned throughout the campaign but from the current standpoint it seems as if the experienced manager has made all the right choices.
Sitting top of the group with four points in front of Wales, Serbia only need a point in Vienna to book their Russian visa and qualify for the major international tournament for the first time since South Africa 2010 where they got eliminated in group stages. Serbian senior squad has for years now struggled to replicate the success of its youth setups which have dominated the international scenes for years now. With plenty of players from the golden generation fit and ready for the A selection, the absence of Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been the biggest issue. Muslin refuses to call the player who ‘doesn’t fit into Serbia’s style of play’ but still is regarded as one of the hottest properties in European football. The players who are in the team have done a wonderful job and Serbia is coming off from back-to-back victories over Moldova and Ireland which have done wonders for the team’s morale. They might only need a point but Serbia will go for all three here.
Defenders Jagos Vukovic and Uros Spajic were ruled out through injury but Besiktas man Dusko Tosic has been called up as a replacement.
Hamburger winger Filip Kostic has recovered and will be fit to play, whereas Napoli centre-back Nikola Masksimovic is suspended for the occasion.
Key Factors to Consider
- Serbia need a point to qualify for the World Cup
- Eagles are unbeaten in all three previous meetings with Austria
- Austria failed to win any of their last three matches
- Serbia are unbeaten in their last 11 games
- There were under 2.5 goals in Austria’s last 5 matches
Austria will go hard from the start as they are keen to make amends for the terrible campaign and improve the impression in front of their own fans. Serbia will wait their chance on the counter and could punish every Das Team’s mistake. The hosts have plenty of injury problems and that is something the visitors will want to exploit.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 11/10
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