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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Serbia star Tadic could shatter Welsh dreams

Saints schemer can find the net

Serbia star Dusan Tadic
1 of 1

World Cup qualifying Group D
S4C/Sky Sports 1, 7.45pm Sunday

Wales have not qualified for a World Cup since 1958 and the European Championship semi-finalists could have their qualification dreams shattered by Group D table-toppers Serbia in Belgrade.

Defeat does not have to be terminal in respect of Wales reaching Russia next year, but Chris Coleman's side are already 7-2 to qualify automatically for the finals and odds-against just to finish in a top-two position, so a loss would be a crushing blow.

With star man Gareth Bale sidelined through suspension this may prove to be a step too far.

Only Antoine Griezmann bagged more goals at Euro 2016 than Gareth Bale's tally of three, while in qualifying the Real Madrid superstar notched seven of the 11 goals scored by Wales.

The Welsh have scored eight times in this campaign - including one own goal - and Bale has scored four of those as well as being credited with one assist.

They were important goals too, including the openers in 1-1 home draws with Georgia and Serbia and Bale's ban places a huge emphasis on Aaron Ramsey to produce a massive 90 minutes.

Ramsey is capable and often saves his best stuff for the international arena but without Bale to concern themselves, expect the hosts to double up on the Arsenal man with defensive midfielders Nemanic Matic and Luka Milivojevic screening Serbia's back three.

Bale's absence is a big enough blow on its own without other problems hitting Coleman hard. Neil Taylor is also suspended, while James Collins, Andy King and Hal Robson-Kanu are among those injured and Paul Dummett has temporarily quit international football.

Unfortunately, that has not escaped the attention of the oddsmakers and Serbia are going off a shorter price against Wales than they did earlier in the campaign when Slavoljub Muslin's men failed to justify quotes of evens in a 2-2 draw with Ireland.

Wales are rated a better team than Ireland so Bale's ban is definitely factored strongly into the odds and a better way of supporting Serbia could come in backing Dusan Tadic to score.

Serbia attack primarily through just three players - Tadic, Filip Kostic and Aleksandar Mitrovic. The trio scored ten of their 12 qualifying goals.

Kostic leads the way with 13 shots but four-goal Tadic is only one behind and usually calmer in front of goal when an opportunity presents itself.

Tadic failed to score against Wales but that is the only game he has not registered in as Serbia look to book a direct path to next year's World Cup finals. The fact that the penalty-taking Southampton star is also involved in most set-pieces is another positive.

D Tadic to score
1pt 12-5 bet365

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Team news
Napoli defender Nikola Maksimovic is injured.

Gareth Bale and Neil Taylor are suspended, while Andy King, James Collins, Hal Robson-Kanu and Ben Woodburn are injured. Sam Vokes is likely to start as a lone forward.

Key stat
Serbia have scored at least twice in six of their last eight competitive matches.

Bale's absence is a big enough blow on its own without other problems hitting Coleman hard
E.W. Terms
Sky bet