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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Dragons could be shackled by Serbia

Real Madrid?s Gareth Bale is the main dangerman in the Wales team
1 of 1

World Cup Qualifying Group D
Sky Sports 1, 7.45pm

Goals have been flowing in Group D but it’s quite possible that Wales and Serbia will cancel each other out in a high-stakes showdown in Cardiff.

Wales have scored seven in their three matches, Serbia have banged in eight in three while both are also conceding goals.

But these are two teams who are set up very similarly – a point emphasised by Chris Coleman this week – and there may not be much between them at the final whistle.

The match odds reflect that and the draw could well be the way to go.

Serbia certainly won’t be taking risks having got themselves to the top of the group courtesy of a luckless draw against Ireland – a match they bossed – and wins against Moldova and Austria. A draw away to Wales would definitely be regarded as a point gained rather than two lost.

Even though the Welsh are notionally playing catch-up having dropped two points against Georgia in a 1-1 draw last month, Coleman’s team are very disciplined and will retain their shape and organisation. As such, it could be cagey and close.

The Serbs have been a revelation under veteran coach Slavoljub Muslin. He took over six matches ago and they are unbeaten in those games.

They can be brittle and have imploded many times over the years, but seemingly all is well in the camp. Even Nemanja Matic, who threw his toys out of the pram last year and vowed never to play for his country again, is back in the fold and a vital member of a midfield who have to stop Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale from running the show.

Like the Welsh they play with a back three, and at the other end clearly boast the tools to hurt sides given their free-scoring start to the campaign.

Southampton star Dusan Tadic has scored in each of the three qualifiers and five of his last six internationals while Alexander Mitrovic will occupy Ashley Williams physically.

This is a nation back on an upward curve following a trio of failed campaigns and Wales, despite their successes of the summer, know this is a serious examination of their credentials.

Bale is unquestionably Wales’s key threat and the Madrid man will target Branislav Ivanovic as a defender he’d like to be one-on-one against. Serbia’s wing-backs are likely to join in more defensively as a five and Matic is crucial in breaking up play.

Tadic, incidentally, in the international scoring form of his life, is 9-1 to notch the opener.

The layers agree that despite the goals scored so far in Group D, they don’t expect a lot of them here. It’s 8-13 under 2.5.

1pt 23-10 bet365

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Match facts

Team news
Defenders Ben Davies and James Collins are injured. Aaron Ramsey is fit after a hamstring problem.

Centre-back Jagos Vukovic and midfielder Ljubomir Fejsa are injured. Nemanja Matic is back in the squad.

Key stat
There have been at least two goals in each Serbia’s last 17 competitive internationals 


Serbia certainly won?t be taking risks having got themselves to the top of the group courtesy of a luckless draw against Ireland
E.W. Terms
Sky bet