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Oct 12, 2021 at 7.45pm UK
Vlahovic (30' pen., 53'), Tadic (83' pen.)
FT(HT: 1-1)
Mahmudov (45+2')
Haghverdi (27'), Medvedev (65')

Preview: Serbia vs. Azerbaijan - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Serbia vs. Azerbaijan - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's World Cup Qualifying - Europe clash between Serbia and Azerbaijan, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Serbia can take one step closer to potential qualification for World Cup 2022 when they host Azerbaijan in Belgrade on Tuesday evening.

The hosts currently sit top of Group A in European qualifying, eight points ahead of Luxembourg in third place, whilst the visitors only have pride left to play for as they find themselves bottom after six matches.

Match preview

Since competing as an independent nation from 2006 onwards, Serbia have qualified for two of the three possible World Cup tournaments - in 2010 and 2018 - and find themselves edging closer to participation in Qatar next year.

One point ahead of Portugal as it stands, who do have a game in hand over them, the Eagles are on the verge of sealing a playoff spot at minimum with Luxembourg travelling to group favourites Portugal on Tuesday.

However, regardless of that result, head coach Dragan Stojkovic will want his players focusing on all three points in order to push the 2016 European champions to the end ahead of their potential decider next month.

An unbeaten qualifying campaign so far has been the reason for their strong position, with a vital narrow victory over Luxembourg on Saturday evening putting them on the verge.

In a fairly even encounter, Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic provided the decisive moment midway through the second half, with a solid defensive performance also required to keep out their hosts.

Meanwhile, the qualifying campaign has gone exactly as expected for FIFA's 117th-ranked side so far, with just the one point picked up from six games by Tuesday's vistiors.

No surprises have been sprung by Giovanni De Biasi's men so far, who will be hoping his side can provide at least one bright moment for the nation before the final qualifier next month.

Sitting bottom of Group A as it stands, and four points adrift of fourth-placed Republic of Ireland, a positive result on Tuesday will be required by Milli to stand any chance of avoiding a last-placed finish, a backwards step after respectable qualifying campaigns for the 2014 and 2018 tournaments.

When the nations met back in March, Azerbaijan were unfortunate not to come away with at least a well-earned point after a hard fought performance on home soil, but Aleksandar Mitrovic's late goal was the difference in a 2-1 win for Serbia.

A similar performance will be required on Tuesday, and one much better than the display put in on Saturday, when Azerbaijan fell 3-0 to Ireland in Baku.

Some concerning defending and goalkeeping were partially to blame for the defeat, as the hosts did manage to maintain some comfortable possession for large periods, whilst creating some decent opportunities to get back into the game.

Serbia World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W

Serbia form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W

Azerbaijan World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Azerbaijan form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Team News

Serbia will be required to make a change in personnel in their back three on Tuesday, with Monaco youngster Strahinja Pavlovic picking up his second yellow card of the qualifying campaign, which will see him serve a one-match suspension for this game.

Sassuolo's Filip Duricic was deployed at right wing-back on Saturday, but like Pavlovic, he also picked up another yellow card to see him miss out against Azerbaijan through suspension.

Uros Spajic is likely to deputise in central defence, whilst Darko Lazovic and Nemanja Radonjic will be fighting for Duricic's place in the starting lineup.

As for the visitors, De Biasi will be free to rotate his side and experiment should he desire on Tuesday, with little to play for in Belgrade.

A back five will likely be utilised again in an attempt to contain the likes of Dusan Tadic, Mitrovic and Vlahovic, with the 72 caps of captain Maksim Medvedev providing the experience and leadership.

With no fresh injury concerns from the defeat to Ireland, the head coach appears to have a fully-fit squad available to choose from.

Serbia possible starting lineup:
Rajkovic; Veljkovic, Nastasic, Spajic; Radonjic, Milinkovic-Savic, Gudelj, Kostic; Tadic; Vlahovic, Mitrovic

Azerbaijan possible starting lineup:
Mahammadaliyev; Huseynov, Medvedev, Haghverdi, Krivotsyuk, Bayramov; Abdullayev, Makhmudov, Qarayev, Ozobic; Dadasov

We say: Serbia 2-0 Azerbaijan

With little to play for for the visitors, and this clash being vital for the hosts, a home win is the likely outcome here.

The difference in quality should also show, as Serbia should comfortably see off Azerbaijan to keep the pressure on Portugal at the top of Group A.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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