Kick-off: 1945, 24/03/2021
Stadium: Rajko Mitic Stadium
TV: Sky Sports
Serbia are fancied to prove just too strong for Republic of Ireland when qualifying for the 2022 World Cup gets under way on Wednesday.
Portugal are hot favourites to top the Group A table, so competition will be fierce for second spot and a place in the play-offs.
The Eagles have an experienced squad packed full of established, elite-level performers ahead of this clash in Belgrade.
We like 7/5 for a home win to nil as our first Serbia vs Republic of Ireland prediction.
A Look At Serbia’s Betting Odds
Serbia will have been frustrated to miss out on a place at Euro 2020 when edged out on penalties by Scotland in a play-offs final.
They had earlier performed with credit when third behind Ukraine and Portugal in Group B.
The Eagles did the double over Luxembourg and Lithuania, as well as drawing twice with Portugal.
Highly-rated Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic then grabbed both goals in a fine 2-1 win away to Norway in the play-off semis.
However, losing to Scotland in a shoot-out after a 1-1 draw at this venue was a major setback and prompted a change of management.
Former Yugoslavia midfield great Dragan Stojkovic takes charge for the first time after impressive coaching stints in Japan and China.
He has some classy individuals to call on, including Ajax playmaker Dusan Tadic, Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and Eintracht Frankfurt forward Luka Jovic.
Stojkovic is known for trying to play attacking football and 9/5 for the hosts to win by more than one goal appeals from the Serbia vs Republic of Ireland odds.
Last year’s Nations League results were mixed, but finishing off with a 5-0 rout of Russia in November augured well for the future.
A Look At Republic of Ireland’s Betting Odds
Ireland also had to endure Euro 2020 play-offs heart-break after finishing a fair third behind Switzerland and Denmark in Group D.
The men in green were then beaten on penalties by Slovakia following a goalless stalemate in Bratislava.
Stephen Kenny now attempts to emulate the likes of Jack Charlton, Mick McCarthy, Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O’Neill in leading Ireland to the finals of major tournaments.
Preston midfielder Alan Browne admitted: “It’s a tough group. On paper, people will probably rule us out, if we’re being realistic, given our recent results.
“We haven’t been doing well enough, so I’m sure the critics will have already ruled us out.
“But us as a team and a nation, we’re always ones to thrive off this and be the underdog and come out on top, and that’s what we’re looking to do.
“We’ve got to be as optimistic as possible. We’re going into every game to win it, be in no doubt about that.
“That’s what we’ve always done and we want to live up to teams that have gone before us, getting through to the big games and the big stages. We want to keep that going.”
Ireland have never been short of spirit, but Kenny is yet to taste victory eight games into a reign which has been blighted by injuries and coronavirus.
Just one goal was scored in six Nations League matches last year, while England beat them 3-0 in a Wembley friendly.
A few old favourites are back for this contest and those battle-hardened veterans have shown they can scrap for points in the past.
However, first-choice keeper Darren Randolph is absent, along with Liverpool reserve Caoimhin Kelleher, so that position is a big concern.
Let’s finish off our Serbia vs Republic of Ireland betting tips by taking 6/1 for a 2-0 home win.
Panama 0-0 SERBIA
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 0-0 Bulgaria
Head-to-head: Ireland 0-1 Serbia, Serbia 2-2 Ireland, Ireland 1-2 Serbia, Serbia 0-0 Ireland
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