Wales head for Belgrade, Serbia this weekend for a crucial WC 2018 qualifying clash of the Group D cluster that has teams like Republic Of Ireland, Austria, Moldova and Georgia. Wales are presently in the 3rd spot with 7 points from 5 games played so far and 4 points behind their June 11 opponents. The Red Dragons will be without the services of their star player Gareth Bale out on suspension. The Welsh will also be without Aston Villa defender Neil Taylor. red-carded in his country’s qualifier clash against Republic of Ireland in March this year. Coach Chris Coleman will thus have to depend on Sam Vokes (Burnley) and Hal Robson-Kanu (West Brom) to get him goals at the Rajko Mitic Stadium. The midfield looks more solid with folks like Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace), Joe Allen (Stoke City) and Tom Lawrence (Leicester City) likely to feature in the starting XI on Sunday., The defensive unit could consist of Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur), Ashley Williams and Gethin Jones (Everton) and James Chester (Aston Villa). The No.1 choice for the goal-keepers position is likely to be Crystal Palace’s Wayne Hennessey.
The Serbian squad has six English-based players with Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic and Manchester City back Aleksandar Kolarov being the most prominent ones. Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, left-winger Dusan Tadic of Southampton, mid-fielder Harbor Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) and goal-keeper Vladimir Stojkovic (Nottingham Forest) are among the others. Ex-Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic who currently plays for Russian outfit, Zenit Petersburg, should also make the cut in the playing XI for the Wales clash along with those already mentioned.
A win for the Welsh side at Belgrade will be of paramount importance as the outcome of the Republic of Ireland – Austria at Dublin could put immense pressure on their chances of qualifying for WC 2018. The Irish, the favourites for the Dublin clash, would be happy even with a draw given their favourable 2nd position in the Group with 11 points (same as Serbia).
The Welsh have bitter memories of their last trip to the Red Star Stadium when they were humiliated 1-6 by Serbia. But that was way back in 2012 and Chris Coleman’s side now are a much-improved one even without Gareth Bale. But few are wagering on a positive results for the Welsh on Sunday as the odds below would suggest.
Serbia win: 4/5
Wales win: 4/1