Matchday Six, a crucial juncture in the qualifying campaign for all teams involved in Group D.
Serbia v Wales
2018 FIFA World Cup - European Qualifiers
With Moldova facing Georgia, the Republic of Ireland hosting Austria and Wales travelling to Serbia, there are so many implications for how the standings could look following this weekend’s fixtures, with the potential being there for the group’s top four teams to be separated by a mere point when all is said and done following Sunday’s fixtures.
It was at this point in the previous campaign that Welsh fans really began to believe, after that infamous 1-0 win over Belgium at the Cardiff City Stadium set Coleman’s squad on their way to securing EURO 2016 qualification. Securing the same result in Serbia though, will arguably be an even bigger challenge for Wales to overcome.
Coming up against one of the highest scoring teams in qualifying so far, Serbia have scored 12 goals in their first five games of the group, however, Wales have kept Slavojlib Muslin’s men the quietest with the Serbs scoring more than one goal against everyone apart from Wales so far.
Conceding on average less than a goal a game in qualification thus far, Wales’ trademark defensive strength has been key once again. With results away from home crucial for any team looking to qualify for the 2018 World Cup from such a hotly-contested group, it is that defensive savvy that will aid Wales the most as they go to Serbia in search of what would be a hugely significant three points.
A vastly experienced squad littered with household names, Serbia pose a particularly problematic test to opposing teams as they balance what is a very physical and imposing core group of players with others blessed with great technical ability and pace.
Following a very fruitful training camp in Portugal, Wales will be without recent UEFA Champions League winner Gareth Bale and Aston Villa’s Neil Taylor will miss out due to suspension. There are several new faces from Wales’ next generation to produce a combined squad packed with talent, experience and enthusiasm.
Harry Wilson, Daniel James, Joe Walsh, Tom Lockyer, Gethin Jones and Lee Evans have been added to Coleman’s squad and will all be hoping that their time has come to make a stake for some game time.
As ever, the Red Wall will be out in force as tickets for this game sold out in double-quick time, and the fans shall undoubtedly make their presence known inside the Raijko Mitic Stadium on matchday and do their utmost to make sure Serbia’s Eagles don’t take flight against Wales’ Dragons in this crucial MD6 fixture.
- Wales have never beaten Serbia in an international, losing four of five contests (including games against Serbia & Montenegro in 2003).
- Chris Coleman’s 6-1 defeat to Serbia in September 2012 in his first away qualifier in charge of Wales is his heaviest loss in charge of the national team.
- Wales will be without the suspended Gareth Bale, who scored both of their goals against Serbia in their last three meetings, with the goals coming in the 30th and 31st minutes.
- Four of Wales’ eight qualifying goals in this campaign have been scored by Bale.
- Dusan Tadic has been directly involved in 11 of Serbia’s 12 goals in qualifying so far, scoring four and assisting a further seven times.
- Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored four times in his last three qualifiers for Serbia, including against Wales in November 2016.
- Wales have drawn their last four matches – they’ve never in their history drawn five in succession.
- Since Wales’ defeat to Serbia in World Cup 2014 qualifying (0-3 in Sept 2013), they’ve lost only one qualifying match home or away under Chris Coleman (W8 D8).