Serbia hosts the Republic of Ireland in Group D World Cup qualifying action in Belgrade on Monday, September 5th. It’s the first game for each team in a group that also features Wales, Austria, Moldova and Georgia. Ireland is entering a new era of international soccer as the nation’s all-time leading scorer Robbie Keane has retired from the squad. Ireland will be in for a tough time as the Serbian fans are notorious agitators.
Serbia vs Republic of Ireland – Pinnacle Soccer Betting Line:
- Pinnacle currently lists Serbia as the favorites at -102 with Ireland +353 and a draw at +235
Serbia vs Republic of Ireland – Head to Head:
The two teams last met in 2014 with Serbia winning 2-1 in Ireland. They’ve faced each other just three times in the past with Serbia winning one and drawing the other two. They’ve played once in Serbia with the match ending in a 0-0 draw in 2012. Serbia has outscored Ireland 3-2 in their three meetings.
Serbia – A Closer Look:
Serbia is currently ranked number 47 in the world by FIFA and is now managed by Slavoljub Muslin . They have some quality players with good technical ability such as Alexsandar Mitrovic, but have struggled in international competitions for the past few years. Their last major tournament appearance was the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as they failed to reach the 2014 World Cup and the 2012 and 2016 European Championships. The team has three wins, a draw and two losses in its past six outings at home and is unbeaten in their past four overall with three wins and a draw.
Serbia was terrible during the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with just two victories in 10 outings. To make matters worse, one of the wins was struck from the record after being punished for crowd trouble. This left the team with just four points in 10 games. Nottingham Forest goaltender Stojkovic is expecting to get the start for Serbia. He hopes to get the protection he needs and attacking help from teammates such as Ivanovic, Mulinovic, Rajkovic, Rukavina, Mladenovic, Tosic, Tadic and Mitrovic. Kolarov and Matic won’t be playing though as they’re both suspended.
Republic of Ireland – A Closer Look:
Ireland is currently ranked number 31 in the world by FIFA and has just two wins in their past six games along with a draw and three defeats. They also have two wins, two draws and two losses in their past six road contests. Ireland played Oman in a warmup match on Wednesday and came out 4-0 winners with Keane scoring his 68th goal in his final international game. The Irish attack isn’t as strong without Keane, but there are still a few players who have the talent to find the back of the net including Shane Long and Jonathan Walters. The Irish squad is a hard-working unit under manager Martin O’Neill and managed to qualify for the round-of-16 at this summer’s European Championships in France before being ousted 2-1 by the host nation. Their highlight was a victory over Italy in the group stage.
Randolph is expected to start in goal for Ireland, but defender John O’Shea is questionable due to a hamstring injury. O’Neill is hoping for a typical gritty Irish performance in Belgrade on Monday and will be depending on players such as Keogh, Clark, Coleman and Brady to lead the way along with Walters, Long, Whelan, Hendrick and Hoolahan. Ireland may be happy with a draw, but could take all three points if they take advantage of a Serbian squad that has been in disarray lately.
Serbia vs Republic of Ireland – Takeaway:
Serbia has had problems with crowd control recently and will need to make sure their fans behave in their opening qualifying match. If there’s trouble, Serbia could pay the price for it with point deductions or a possible expulsion from the tournament.
by Ian S. Palmer