Italy appear to be racing away with Group C, although there is an interesting tussle developing between four of the other teams in the section for second place, with this match likely to have a big say in who gets the chance to compete in the play-offs.
Northern Ireland have once again punched above their weight so far in qualifying, losing just one of their six matches to date although one can’t help but feel that Nigel Worthington’s team will rue the two points that were dropped away to the Faroe Islands last October, with the same team being recently thrashed 4-0 at Windsor Park.
That was the sort of confidence-booster required ahead of this tough assignment against a Serbian team who have stumbled along in the past year, having come from behind to beat the northern Irish in Belgrade earlier this March.
Even so, Vladimir Petrovi?’s side are the 6/5 (William Hill – £25 free bets) to claim victory in this match, although it hasn’t paid to oppose the Irish at home over the past few years and the draw makes more appeal at 9/4 (Paddy Power – £100 free bets).
The same bookmaker offer 13/5 about a home win and many teams are often taken aback by the hostile atmosphere of this ground, with Paddy McCourt likely to be a tricky customer for a Serbian defence missing Nemanja Vidic.