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Prediction: Wales vs Serbia

Verdict: Serbia

Best Odds: 23/10

Bookmaker: Bet365

Wales will have a huge point to prove against Serbia as Chris Coleman’s men head into the Saturday’s clash eager to make amends for two disappointing defeats to the Serbian Eagles in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. Serbia managed successive 6-1 and 3-0 wins over the Welsh back in 2012 and 2013, but plenty has changed since for both sides.

Wales

Having failed to win in their last two World Cup qualifiers, Wales will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they play host to Group D leaders Serbia at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday night. Chris Coleman is aware his team is facing an uphill battle against a strong, competitive side, but will be highly motivated to demonstrate that his side have come a long way since they last met the Serbs. Two teams faced each other in the previous FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign which ended in Wales suffering two disappointing 6-1 and 3-0 defeats. The Welsh Dragons have made stunning progress since 2013 by earning their historic Euro 2016 spot, reaching their first major tournament for 58 years. Wales have gone on to put impressive displays in France and reach the semi-finals of the competition, before being eliminated at the hands of Portugal, who went on to lift the trophy. Wales boast a strong side, winning mentality and plenty of motivation ahead of what is likely to be a pivotal match for Chris Coleman’s team. With only one win and two draws, Welsh are sitting third in their group, two points adrift of group leaders Serbia and potential three points from the Saturday’s match would bring a huge change in fortunes for the home side.

Team News

After two months on the sidelines, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is back with the Wales squad. The in-form Stoke City midfielder Joe Allen returns to the fold as well having missed the Georgia game last month because of a hamstring problem.

Having picked up an ankle injury during pre-season, midfielder Jonny Williams was given a call-up for the first time during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.

Serbia

Three games into the World Cup qualifiers and Serbia are top of the group with two wins and one draw from their three opening matches. It is the best-ever start to a qualifying cycle since Serbia earned its independence and there is a real sense of excitement and anticipation around the national team once again. It is a familiar, yet a treacherous ground for the Serbian Eagles, who will need to show great character in order to avoid repeating same mistakes all over again. Serbia has a way of allowing the high expectations eating them alive and the ongoing qualifying process is the best chance yet to get over old illnesses. Slavoljub Muslin’s men have opened the campaign with an eventful 2-2 stalemate against Ireland back in September. Muslin’s side are a work in progress, but their impressive attacking potential was on display for the next two matches, a compelling 3-0 win at Moldova and an emotional 3-2 victory over Austria last time out. Southampton playmaker Dusan Tadic has displayed sparkling form during the three games so far, scoring three goals in as many matches and taking part in either creating or scoring Serbia’s last ten goals. Despite their fine form, Serbia have been hit with a couple of selection issues that Mulsin hopes will have no effect on the team in Cardiff.

Team News

Benfica midfielder Ljubomir Fejsa suffered an injury in the Champions League last week and is ruled out for the occasion as well as defender Jagos Vukovic who will be replaced by FC Lokomotiv Moscow defender Nemanja Pejcinovic.

ALeksandar Kolarov has picked up two bookings and will be forced to sit through the game with suspension, while Dusko Tosic is a major doubt for the match. Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic returns from his suspension and will be at Muslin’s disposal for the game.

Key Aspects to Consider

  • Wales conceded 9 goals in previous 2 games vs Serbia
  • Serbia lost only 1 game in last 8 across all competitions
  • Dusan Tadic had a hand in Serbia’s last 10 goals
  • Wales suffered only 1 defeat in last 12 home matches
  • Serbia either won or lost each of their last 10 away games

Conclusion

Home side will be highly motivated to show Serbia that much has changed since the last meeting between the two sides. Both Coleman and Muslin have plenty of attacking potential at their hands and we should be in for an openly-contested clash in Cardiff on Saturday. Despite the home advantage, Wales could end up burning in desire to beat their rivals.

Verdict: Serbia

Best Odds: 23/10

Bookmaker: Bet365

Fri 11 Nov, 2016
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