This morning OTB AM's Eoin Sheahan did a deep dive on the Serbs so you don't have to - here's what he found out...
SERBIA REPORT CARD
High drama off the pitch - Ireland do not have a monopoly over controversy when it comes to football administration. The Serbian FA have had their own controversy this week. Serbian Football Association (FSS) president Slavisa Kokeza has stepped down due to links with a criminal group who wanted to stage a coup and kill the president of the country
He is alleged to have links to the leaders of a Partizan Belgrade supporters' group who were arrested in January because of alleged links to the mafia
Some of the specific allegations are pretty grim including, allegations of kidnapping rivals fans, torturing, and then murdering them at the club’s stadium.
Kokeza described the allegations as “treacherous accusations devoid of all truth” and has stepped down to take the heat off the association He called the claim that he had had any knowledge of the plot to kill Vucic as “dangerous lies”.
Nemanja Matic has been speaking about the future of football in Serbia, and he wants Nemanja Vidic to have a role to play
“The plan should have a man who takes over the Alliance, and I hope that it will be Nemanja Vidic.
“Is it time for Vidic? We are already late ... If we start today with a clear plan for the recovery of our football, it will take us six or seven years. So it's definitely time for Nemanja.
“We have a future, but fewer and fewer players are playing at the top level, only a few in the best leagues such as England and Spain ... Our domestic league is very bad, children go abroad early due to lack of conditions and quality and do not reach maturity as players and people.”
DRAGAN STOJKOVIC - The man who scored both goals for Yugoslavia against Spain at Italia 90 to send Yugoslavia to the quarter-finals has taken charge of the Serbian national team.
He's already made waves, this line about the Irish was picked up from an interview in Mozzartsport, "Ireland can be very uncomfortable, but I can't accept that they can play better than us."
Having put it through Google Translate, OTB Sports can report that the opening paragraph reads:
'Captivating self-confidence which grabs you by the lapels and speaks right in your eyes. The Serbian national team had numerous selectors, but I don't remember when was the last one who so convincingly, so surely announced the revival and success, without even having time to shake hands with the football players and introduce himself by name and surname: I am the selector Dragan Stojković .'
What style of play can we expect?
Well Arsene Wenger wanted him to be his replacement at Arsenal.
In 2011 he said, "I would love Stojkovic to be my successor; there are a hundred reasons for that... Our ideas are the same and we both strive for perfect football. I knew he was going to have teams playing attacking football with many passes. He has done that, showing he will be a great coach."
So maybe expect shades of a 2010's Arsenal team when the sides go toe-to-toe tonight.
He has expressed his desire for Serbia to establish a fresh playing identity, so we'll get the first look at what that style will look like.
DEFENCE: THE GOOD NEWS FIRST - Here's one question from a Serbian journalist ahead of the match:
"Formation is one of the items that have changed frequently in previous years. However, the opinion remained that Serbia, due to the lack of quality defenders, especially right-backs, should play with three in the last line. What are your thoughts on the subject?"
To which the gaffer replied:
"The correct definition is that we have a problem with defenders. After I noticed that, I called Gajić and Petković. They are there to fill the deficit on the right side, but they are also on the list because of their games. It doesn't matter in which formation you play, whether with three or four in the back. The only thing that matters is how you understand the system."
The main takeaway was that the team are struggling at right back - which could open a window of opportunity for Ireland's attack.
Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinković-Savić - Serbia are facing a Doherty / Coleman style debate about getting their two most-creative players in the same XI.
Tadic has the most assists in Eredivisie this season and is tied in fifth on goalscoring charts having netted 13 times for Ajax to date.
While Sergej Milinković-Savić has impressed for Lazio in Seria A.
Stojkovic's said he believes the two can compliment each other, when put in the right system.
If those two names are on the team sheet it could be a busy shift for Ireland's rear-guard.
THE NEW KID - There's no Kolarov and no Milivojevic in this squad - but it is still an experienced group with an average age in the late 20's.
That being said, Dusan Vlahovic is relatively new to international football. He’s 21 years of age, has got 4 caps and could lead the line tonight.
He’s scored 12 goals in serie A this season for Fiorentina - AC Milan and Spurs are sniffing around him.
He scored a hattrick against Benevento recently - two fox in the box goals and then a screamer as well.
You could forgive Serbian football fans for being really excited about him and wanting him to start tonight
They’ve got good depth up front - they’ve got Luka Jovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic as well.
You could have a situation where Marko Grujic (Porto), Luka Jovic and Mitrovic are ready to come off the bench.
But who knows, maybe their lack of an out and out right back might cost them...