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Monday 20 November 2017

Serbs confident of win from Dublin date

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring against Moldova on Saturday
Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring against Moldova on Saturday

Serbia have no plans to play for a draw in Dublin tomorrow as they seek the win which will push them even closer to the World Cup finals.

The Serbian camp are high on confidence after their 3-0 win at home to Moldova on Saturday, the win keeping them two points clear of Ireland and four points ahead of a revived Wales side.

Serbian had a win (2014) and a draw (2008) from their most recent visits to Dublin, albeit in friendly games.

But tomorrow will have a real edge, Serbia sensing that they have Russia in their sights and should they beat Ireland, their last two games, the final one a potential banana skin against Georgia, could be stress-free.

"We had a very important victory in our game with Moldova, we also saw that the Irish played a draw, but that does not change our situation, we go to Dublin looking for a win," says former Manchester City man Matija Nastasic. "With that in we are closer to Russia."

With three games left in the group, what's worrying for Ireland and Wales, the other sides still in contention in Group D, is that Serbia are really hitting form after a slow start.

Two draws from their first three games, the first a sluggish showing in a 2-2 draw with Ireland in Belgrade, left some fans and observers in Serbia wondering if the nation's barren run in terms of qualification was about to continue.

Pride

But the football community in Serbia, which has endured years of anguish and pain, is bristling with pride. The two Belgrade clubs have qualified for the group stages of a European competition (albeit 'only' in the Europa League), and they have had great success at underage international level.

Key to their succcess with the senior side is the scoring form of Newcastle man Aleksandar Mitrovic. With six goals in the group he is on form, and only three players have scored more goals in this Euro qualifying campaign: Cristiano Ronaldo (14), Robert Lewandowski (11) and Romelu Lukaku (9).

And he is of course keen to keep up that run when he faces Ireland tomorrow, a possible clash with club-mate Ciaran Clark (presuming Clark keeps his place in the side, not a certainty given his error-prone display in Tbilisi.

"My job is to score goals and I'm glad that this often happens in the national team. I hope to continue that in Dublin, but it is still important for me that the team plays well and win," says Mitrovic.

"We are facing a difficult game in Ireland because they have a way of playing, but I'm sure we will prepare well and be ready," he added.

Serbia have a full squad to pick from, with Crystal Palace man Luka Milivojevic and Vladimir Stojkovic back from suspension.

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