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Preview: Serbia vs. Republic of Ireland

Sports Mole will preview Wednesday’s 2022 World Cup qualifier between Serbia and Republic of Ireland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Known enemies Serbia and Irish Republic Both nations will meet at the Red Star Stadium on Wednesday evening World Cup 2022 Qualification campaign is running.

The two countries were in the same group in the last World Cup qualification and will try to reach their top 2 positions this time.

Game preview

© Reuters

Serbia took Ireland to the top four years ago and the Boys in Green suffered the ultimate heartbreak when they lost their playoffs to Denmark.

Ireland is the third seed this time, behind Serbia and Portugal, group A favorites. Stephen Kenny will have his work cut out to qualify for Qatar 2022.

Kenny’s tenure has not gone exactly according to plan, as Ireland have failed to win any of the eight games he has been responsible for since his success Mick McCarthy.

This winless run includes another defeat in the playoffs, this time against Slovakia on the way to Euro 2020, as well as three draws and three defeats in their Nations League campaign.

Expectations aren’t exactly high at the start of this final campaign as Ireland has been aiming for a first win since November 2019 – competitive or uncompetitive.

Luka Jovic will celebrate the goal for Serbia in November 2020© Reuters

However, Serbia are not in much better shape, even though they won their last competitive game against Russia 5-0 four months ago.

The Eagles finished third in their Nations League group and lost to Scotland in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. So 2020 is a year to forget.

This time placed in a cheap group, but new boss Dragan Stojkovic – officially appointed this month – will be confident of landing a spot in Qatar.

Taking all competitions into account, Serbia has only won two of its last nine games, followed by four straight wins.

Now under new management, this is the kind of form the Eagles want to repeat to kick off this newest cycle, winning style.

Serbia Form (all competitions):

Republic of Ireland form (all competitions):

Team news

Serbia's Sasa Lukic pictured in September 2019© Reuters

The qualification error at Euro 2020 ended the cycle in several ways for Serbia Nemanja Matic and Luka Milivojevic among those who are retiring.

Stojkovic tries to realize his own ideas and left Alexander Kolarov and Adem Ljajic from his first squad.

Serbia still has a lot of talented players, not least at the top Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Luka Jovic are expected to begin.

Ireland lost Caoimhin Kelleher, Kevin Long, Conor Hourihane and Callum O’Dowda to injuries for their upcoming games.

Long absence should see Ciaran Clark partner Shane Duffy in the heart of the defense.

Mark Traverswho battled for loan starts in Swindon Town is in line with Darren Randolph not be involved in the squad.

Serbia possible starting line-up:
Rajkovic; Gudelj, Milenkovic, Mitrovic; Lazovic, Milinkovic-Savic, Lukic, Kostic; Tadic; Jovic, Mitrovic

Republic of Ireland possible starting line-up:
Traverses; Coleman, Duffy, Clark, O’Shea; Robinson, Brady, Ritter, Hendrick, McClean; Long

SM words green background

We say: Serbia 1-0 Republic of Ireland

Neither team had their prime last time and barely qualified for Euro 2020 before disappointing the Nations League campaigns.

The Republic of Ireland have failed to beat Serbia in five previous encounters, including the double header in the 2018 World Cup, and we can see the hosts prevail again on Wednesday.

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