At first glance there doesn’t seem much to play for as the two sides languish in Group A in fourth and sixth place respectively. However, after both lost to close geographical rivals last time out, the teams will be under pressure to produce a performance to appease their fans.
Gordon Strachan lamented a ‘freaky’ twenty-five minutes that saw Wales overturn a 1-0 deficit to emerge victorious from Hampden Park. Blackburn’s Grant Hanley had put Scotland ahead before the break, but they conceded two in two minutes to strip away the enthusiasm that met last month’s friendly win over Estonia.
Meanwhile, Serbia were defeated by Croatia in a contest that was more of symbolic importance than a sporting spectacle. With just home fans in the ground because of political tensions, they stuck to Croatia’s script and were vanquished 2-0. The qualifying round will be of great disappointment to this evening’s hosts, as they can truly boast some top-class players. Their backline includes Manchester City pair Matija Nastasic, and Aleksander Kolarov and captain Branislav Ivanoivic, but they have found it impossible to score goals away from home, which has been their undoing.
The reverse fixture at the start of the campaign produced a dull 0-0 draw in Glasgow, which has subsequently set the tone for both nations’ fruitless World Cup bid. Pride is the name of the game for the remaining outings in the group.
KICK-OFF: Tonight, 7.30pm
Scotland 0 Serbia 0, World Cup 2014 Qualifying, September 2012
Scotland haven’t won a competitive game in 18 months after beating Liechtenstein 1-0 away in October 2011.
Serbia are the highest home goal scorers in the group (6), but have also conceded the joint highest with Macedonia (4).
Apart from the win at Liechtenstein, Scotland have only kept two clean sheets away from home since 2007 – one against Lithuania, the other against France.
Serbia to win 7/10
Scotland to win 5/1