Saturday, September 23, 2017

Prediction: Republic of Ireland vs Serbia

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: bet365

Having failed to defeat Georgia on the road, Republic of Ireland now need to defeat Serbia if they want to remain in a good position to qualify for the tournament finals. The Eagles, on the other hand, would probably settle for one point considering they would remain two points clear at the top with just two games to go.

Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland have done really well over the last couple of years, proving their worth at the Euro 2016 finals before enjoying a bright start to the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, but they cannot afford to relax just yet. Three successive draws have seriously damaged their hopes of finishing top of the group, and we have to say that the Irish were quite fortunate to take one point from the Georgia game despite taking the lead. Martin O’Neill’s side spent the majority of the game in their own half despite needing a win to stay close to leaders Serbia, and they now need to show a serious improvement in Dublin. With Serbia and Wales sitting either site of them in the standings and a trip to Cardiff scheduled for the final round of fixtures, it is clear that Ireland need to win their next fixture if they are to stand any chance of finishing top of the group. That could prove easier said than done as their key men do not appear to be in good shape at the moment, while calls for Wes Hoolahan’s inclusion in the starting line-up did not seem to resonate with the coaching duo.

Team News

Martin O’Neill is sweating over the fitness of key midfielder Jeff Hendrick, who missed the trip to Georgia, while David McGoldrick has yet to return after attending the birth of his child.

Serbia

Serbia have been punching well below their weight for quite some time, which is not that surprising considering that there was always plenty of turmoil and bad blood in the national team. Current coach Slavoljub Muslin appears to have somewhat stabilised the team since his arrival, but we have to be fair and admit that the Eagles have been far from impressive in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers despite climbing to the top of the group. Serbia completely rely on individual quality of players like Tadic, Mitrovic, Kostic, Matic and Kolarov, the team are too defence minded at times and they struggle to carve out goalscoring opportunities. Nevertheless, they are now in a very good position to reach the tournament finals, but we are not convinced they have what it takes to win in Dublin. Slavoljub Muslin continues to overlook Lazio duo Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Dusan Basta for reasons unknown to anyone but him, but as long as the results remain respectable, his decisions will be somewhat justified.

Team News

First choice goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic and important midfielder Luka Milivojevic return from suspension, while there are no other worries for Slavoljub Muslin.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Rep of Ireland have never beaten Serbia (D3 L1)
  • Both teams scored in three of their four meetings
  • Serbia won the 2014 friendly in Dublin
  • Both sides unbeaten in the current campaign
  • Mere three goals were scored in Ireland’s three 2018 WC qualifiers at home

Conclusion

Republic of Ireland have largely struggled of late, and they definitely have problems when they need to attack the opposition at home as the team are much better at defending and playing on the break. Serbia, too, have faced problems up front and with a lot at stake, chances are we will witness a low-scoring affair.

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: bet365

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