UEFA Nations League: Serbia vs Montenegro preview

Serbia and Montenegro clash in a regional derby on Saturday at Rajko Mitic Stadium in Belgrade, it is a match that could decide which of these two teams gets promoted to the second tier of the UEFA Nations League. Serbia won the reverse fixture 2-0 in October, thanks to a double from Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. Believe it or not, that was the first ever direct match between these two sides. Montenegro joined FIFA and UEFA in 2007, after the country restored its independence in 2006. Before that, Serbia and Montenegro had a joint national team following the dismantling of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Serbia are still unbeaten in the UEFA Nations League campaign, they defeated both Lituania and Montenegro, but they drew against Romania both in Belgrade and in Bucharest. In fact, their last match was a goalless draw in the Romanian capital, a result which generated an uncertain situation in the group table. Serbia are leading the group on 8 points, Montenegro are second on 7 points, while Romania are third with 6 points. All three sides have a chance of qualifying, but only Serbia have their fate in their own hands, all they need is to beat Montenegro and get at least a draw against minnows Lithuania next week. Their task will be quite difficult on Saturday, though, as star midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic withdrew from the squad due to an injury.

Montenegro managed to win two of their four group matches so far, but both of them were against Lithuania, the weakest team in the group. They also got a goalless draw in Romania, the same result that Serbia had, but if they want to qualify they have to defeat Serbia on Saturday and also grab all three points against Romania next week. A draw between Serbia and Montenegro will be an advantage for Romania, who face Lithuania on Saturday and will most likely get all three points. Montenegro have a few injury problems of their own, as Stevan Jovetic, Stefan Savic and Filip Stojkovic are all out of contention.

Probable line-ups:

Serbia: Rajkovic - Rukavina, Milenkovic, Vukovic, Kolarov - Tadic, Milivojevic, Matic, Kostic - Jovic, Mitrovic

Montenegro: Petkovic - Radunovic, Kopitovic, Simic, Tomasevic - Kosovic, Scekic - Jankovic, Ivanic, Jovovic - Mugosa

My prediction: Serbia to win 1-0, the home side appears stronger at the moment and the home crowd should give them a boost.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Serbia win - 1.40
Draw - 4.75
Montenegro win - 10.00

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