Our match prediction:
Star-studded Serbian side has been underperforming for years now and nation’s frustration has reached its climax with the national team failing to qualify for the 2016 European Championship finals in France. Serbia heads into the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with Slavoljub Muslin as their new coach, who replaced Radovan Curcic at the helm over summer on a promise to raise the level of the performances and restore the ruined team atmosphere. Serbia are unbeaten in their last four matches and will be hoping to extend the run as they prepare to host Euro 2016 participants Republic of Ireland. The Boys in Green will begin the new chapter of their own as they enter the match without their long-serving captain Robbie Keane. The experienced striker has decided to call it quits with the national team after the friendly match with Oman and his imposing presence could be a major blow to Martin O’Neill’s team in Belgrade, which is only one of the reasons Serbia are predicted to record a win over Ireland at Rajko Mitic stadium.
Highligted Player (Matic):
Nemanja Matic is a Serbian footballer who plays for Premier League side Chelsea. The 194-cm-tall midfielder was born on 1 August, 1988 and he began his football career (youth) at Radnicki Obrenovac. In 2005 he signed for Kolubara and after impressing with Kosice in the 2008/2009 campaign, Chelsea owners decided to sign him. Nemanja spent the 2010/2011 season on loan at Vitesse and at the end of the season he signed a deal with Portuguese giants Benfica, with David Luiz heading in the other direction. Matic was in the form of his life in the 2013/2014 Primeira Liga campaign and he helped the Eagles clinch the domestic trophy. He rejoined Chelsea in 2014 for a fee of €25M and he helped the Blues win the Premier League title in the 2014/2015 season. Nemanja Matic has also developed into a key member of the Serbian national team that have been largely struggling of late.
Highlighted Team (Ireland):
Competing as an independent entity since 1953, Republic of Ireland have struggled to match the world’s best national teams ever since, although they did achieve several respectable results on the road. Their best ever result, the 1990 World Cup quarter-final, was achieved with a big smile from Lady Luck seeing that the Irish reached the last eight without winning a single match. They have since reached the last 16 stage at the 1994 and 2002 tournaments, while only qualifying for three European Championship finals (1988, 2012, 2016). The Irish were in the top 10 of the FIFA Rankings in 1993 and 1994, but have failed to repeat the success in the next twenty odd years, and it appears they are no closer to bridging the gap behind European powerhouses. Robbie Keane holds the record for most national team caps and goals at the same time, having bagged 67 in 143 appearances, whereas Niall Quinn, Steve Staunton, Damien Duff, Tony Cascarino and Don Givens are some of the other star players.