Serbia VS Ireland Prediction
One of the very intriguing 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Monday evening will take place at the mythical “Stadion Rajko Mitic” in Serbian capital Belgrade, where Serbia and Republic of Ireland will kick-off their qualifying campaign. Serbia and The Boys in Green are together in qualifying group D, alongside teams of Wales, Moldova, Georgia and Austria, so you can easily check how balanced that group actually is. Both nations were drawn out of the mid pots (3 and 4) which keeps them in shadow of Wales and Austria, but we can surely expect some potential surprises here.
World Cup 2018 Qualifiers: Serbia vs Ireland – Preview
Serbia undoubtedly owns one of the most impressive squad depths in European football but for some reason their national team fails to qualify to any of the major international football competitions in the last years. Their last show up was at the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa but it won’t be remembered with anything else except their victory against Germany (1:0).
After the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifications and three different coaches in period 2014-2016 (Ljubinko Drulovic, Dick Advocaat and Radovan Curcic), Football Association of Serbia decided to appoint one really popular and experienced name – Slavoljub Muslin. The 63-year-old Serb is old fox in that profession but this is his first national team appointment, after he was coaching various European and even Moroccan club (Raja Casablanca in late 90’s) through the years. His most recent job was in Belgian Pro League where he managed Standard Liège for less than three months and apparently Serbian national team challenge arrived right on time. Slavoljub Muslin was appointed as Serbian national team coach in May this year and he started in kicking way – two wins and one draw after three friendlies played in period 25 May-5 June. Both victories were against Cyprus (2:1) and Israel (3:1), while draw (1:1) came in the last friendly which was few days before Russia’s first Euro 2016 game. Thus Muslin made different experiments, using lot of names and he even started with 3-4-3 formation.
Now it’s time for first competitive game and Serbian team is keen to be deeply involved in battle for top two, or even for the first position.
Republic of Ireland travels to the Balkan country few nights after one memorable game at “Aviva Stadium” in Dublin, where The Green Army had to send one of its generals with the 4-0 victory against Oman. That match was more than ordinary friendly game since it was the last international game for the absolute legend of Irish football Robbie Keane, who played his 146th international game and he also scored goal number 68. These stats are making Robbie Keane one living legend who holds the record for most international caps and goals scored for the Irish national football team.
Now The Boys in Green must move on and that victory against Oman came right on time, since it was their first fixture after the UEFA Euro 2016 participation this summer, where Ireland were eliminated by hosts France in the Round of 16. Satisfactory accomplishment for all players, staff, fans and for the Football Association of Ireland, as next target for Martin O’Neill is related with his hopes to qualify the team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. One serious dare in one really strong group.
Serbia vs Ireland – Prediction and Possible Lineups
Serbia will chase first win without few of their most recognized players – Aleksandar Kolarov, Nikola Maksimovic, Nenad Tomovic, Nemanja Matic, Adem Ljajic were left out of the group. However, Serbian Eagles have enough quality in their lines and this secures huge competition for every position. Goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic, captain Branislav Ivanovic, Antonio Rukavina and vice-captain Zoran Tosic are most experienced names in Slavoljub Muslin’s call-ups, so their presence looks out of question. Aleksandar Mitrovic also looks pretty certain for his position on peak of Serbian attack, but all other zones are pretty questionable and Slavoljub Muslin can be delighted with the huge variety he has.
Besides Robbie Keane, Irish manager Martin O’Neill cannot rely to another veteran in Shay Given’s face, as the 40-year-old goalkeeper retired after UEFA Euro 2016. However, goalkeeping position isn’t such an issue and O’Neill can choose among Keiren Westwood and Darren Randolph. His attention falls on other positions since James McCarthy had to return in his club team Everton, where he must undergo another treatment of the groin injury he already had.
Good news in Ireland’s camp are that right back Séamus Coleman and veteran John O’Shea are back to training but their fitness is still dubious, so even if they travel to Belgrade, they can remain on the bench, especially if managerial duo Martin O’Neill/Roy Keane decides to start with same defensive formation used against Oman. We won’t be surprised, they’ll need fully fit players for battle from such matter in their opening qualifier.
Serbs traditionally do better in the World Cup qualifying and this will probably inspire them for another challenging campaign. Fact they alternate qualification with missing of a World Cup finals on every four years may add even more positivism, since Serbia (taking history of Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro) have qualified for the 1974, 1982, 1990, 1998, 2006 and 2010 World Cups, as they’ve missed those in between these years. Of course, this doesn’t matter and as we see that tradition was ended with the 2010 participation, but we share these stats to convince you that Serbia are one of the traditional European teams with good record on World Cups, although they were currently placed into Pot 3 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw.
Ireland and Turkey were the only two nations to be placed in Pot 4 after they have qualified for the UEFA Euro 2016 at the same time, which shows that these rankings are not so accurate and they don’t represent such value, especially when you’re confident in your skills, motivation and team spirit. Of course, the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw was earlier than usual and it was in a moment when both mentioned teams were not in their best position, but fact is they managed to qualify in the upcoming rounds, despite all previous circumstances. We can surely expect more of the same when we have two football nations – Ireland and Serbia, both of them remaining in shadow of Pot 1 and Pot 2 representatives, respectively Wales and Austria.
Since we mentioned team spirit, we can’t just skip to remind you that we have two nations who live with spirit for football and they’re eager to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, no matter what effort will cost them. Opening game can always be a catalyst for your future results and ambitions so it comes with huge importance for both sides. That’s why we’ll stay away from the 1X2 betting as this game looks really unpredictable for us, although Serbia have been determined for favorites of the bookies. Our thoughts are going on another popular option which appears with great value in our eyes – “Both teams to score: Yes“.
We expect Serbia and Ireland to score in their opening 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group D fixture.
Venue: “Stadion Rajko Mitic”, Belgrade.
Referee: Viktor Kassai from Hungary.
Possible starting lineups of Serbia and Ireland
Serbia: Vladimir Stojkovic – Branislav Ivanovic, Matija Nastasic, Stefan Mitrovic – Antonio Rukavina, Nemanja Gudelj, Ljubomir Fejsa, Dusko Tosic – Dusan Tadic, Filip Kostic, Aleksandar Mitrovic. (3-4-3)
Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph – Cyrus Christie, Marc Wilson, Ciaran Clark, Robbie Brady – Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick – Jonathan Walters, Wes Hoolahan, James McClean – Shane Long. (4-2-3-1)