Monday 11 December 2017

Chelsea's Serbian defender picks out two Irishmen who could do some serious damage on Monday night

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic
Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic
Aidan Fitzmaurice

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivaniovic stresses that his experience of marking Irish players in the Premier League on a weekly basis has given him an idea of what to expect in tomorrow's World Cup qualifier in Belgrade.

Ireland face Serbia in a competitive international for the first time - the last time the republic had a qualifier in Belgrade it was against the old Yugoslavia, in 1998 - as the home side aim to make up for the disappointment of failing to qualify for the last three major tournaments.

And Ivanovic has already marked out opponents Shane Long and Jon Walters as dangers to the home side.

"Ireland are a very difficult opponent who need to be respected, who demand respect," Ivanovic said at a press conference today at the Serbian team HQ outside Belgrade.

"What impresses me is their level of continuity, they have a mix of young and experienced players, maybe because I have played in the Premier League for so long I understand they are aggressive and make up for any faults they have with their effort.

"Long and Walters are tough to defend against, they don't leave a second for defenders to have a lapse in concentration and they make things difficult from start to finish."

Serbia, unbeaten in their last three games, are missing the suspended Nemanja Matic and Aleksandar Kolarov. Both men still came to Serbia to train with their team-mates for tomorrow's game in the Red Star Stadium.

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