Can the Republic of Ireland Keep Things Tight Against Serbia?
The Republic of Ireland are unbeaten during their qualifying campaign under Martin O’Neill after six games and with just a few matches remaining in Group D, they have given themselves every chance of qualifying for Russia 2018.
There have been one or two injury concerns ahead of their double header during September’s international break, although Jonathon Walters has travelled with the squad.
It’s tight at the top of the standings, with Ireland and Serbia locked together on 12 points going into this penultimate set of fixtures. The two sides drew 2-2 when they met in Belgrade with Daryl Murphy rescuing a point for the visitors and they lock horns again on Tuesday, September 5.
Both sides remain unbeaten so far and whilst Serbia have netted 13 times so far, Ireland’s success has been largely built of defensive solidity. Just one goal has been conceded in their opening three home matches and they’ll be aiming to maintain that imperious record during a crucial 90 minutes in Dublin.
John O’Shea has been named in the squad but Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark could team up in defence and will be aiming to prevent their opponents from getting on the scoresheet.
O’Neill’s men are likely to go off odds-on favourites as they aim to take a step closer to the 2018 World Cup and will be confident of succeeding after keeping both Wales and Georgia off the scoresheet on home soil. Since their entertaining 2-2 draw against the group leaders, they’ve conceded just two goals in five matches but have only managed more than a single goal on one occasion. Whilst keeping it tight at the back has proved effective so far, more adventure in the final third may be required for the Green Army to pick up all three points here.