By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Serbia v Wales
Novi Sad – Tuesday 7.30pm – Sky Sports 2
Wales were left fuming after James Collins was dismissed against Belgium on Friday evening. Their biggest complaint should have been that it’s no longer the 1970s because it was a tackle that regularly results in a flash of red in these more modern and allegedly civilised footballing days. Post-match comments were critical of referee Stefan Johannesson, but even with eleven players on the pitch, they would have struggled to contain a talented generation of Belgian players.
With injuries and suspensions building up, the trip to Novi Sad carries with it about the same levels of optimism as you get in a Manic Street Preachers’ album. But there is hope. Serbia have built up a reputation as one of the better teams to emerge from the artist formerly known as Yugoslavia. They’ve had some good results since coming on to the scene in their current format back in 2006, but they’re at a low ebb in comparison to some of the heights they’ve reached.
They’ve hit a slump, especially when it comes to their goalscoring. They’ve failed to score in eight of their last 10 matches and their struggles were evident against Scotland on Saturday. They didn’t create a whole lot and their biggest attacking threat came from Aleksandar Kolarov at left back. They’ve scored just eight goals in their last 15 games and although some of them can be dismissed as meaningless friendlies, it’s still worrying. The outfield players in the current squad have a total of 335 caps between, but amazingly, just 17 goals.
If Wales are looking for encouraging signs of dubious worth, it’s got to be the goal-shy spell their hosts are enduring. It might be asking a bit much to claim a win, but getting their first point in the qualifying campaign at 16/5 isn’t out of the question.
The ‘I don’t like making predictions’ prediction: 1-1 Draw at 13/2