Serbia vs. France – World Cup Qualifying Preview and Picks

Serbia vs. France World Cup Qualifying Wednesday, September 9, 2009. 3 PM ET
By Jason Green at

At the Stadion Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade on Wednesday night, Serbia hosts France in a very important World Cup qualifying match. If Serbia can win this match the 3 points should be enough to assure themselves a spot in South Africa next summer. Serbia has a 4-point lead over France in Group 7 and even if the Serbs draw they are in good shape to qualify for the World Cup.

After leading the French side for 5 years head coach Raymond Domenech may be close to losing his job. Even Thierry Henry came out and ripped the head coach recently stating, “Coach, we have something to tell you. I am speaking in the name of the squad. We are getting bored during your training sessions. In 12 years with the French team, I have never been in such a situation. We do not know how to play, where to be on the pitch, how to organize. We do not know what to do. We have no style, no guidelines. It is not working.”

That is not a good thing having one of your team leaders question a coach with only a few World Cup qualifying games remaining.

France needs to at least draw in this match after they played to a 1-1 draw over the weekend to Romania. It seems the French are not confident and it shows in their play, as their offense is struggling big time. The loss to Austria and the 2 draws to Romania in qualifying have hurt France and they need to get back on track, as if they can win this game they should make it to South Africa.

Serbia comes into this match having won their last 3 World Cup qualifying games.

France is still the favorite in this match posted at 2.45 with the home team Serbia posted at 2.80 and a draw at 3.10.

Serbia Recent Form:
8/12/2009 South Africa 1 Serbia 3 (Friendly)
6/10/2009 Faroe Islands 0 Serbia 2 (World Cup Qualifier)
6/6/2009 Serbia 1 Austria 0 (World Cup Qualifier)
4/1/2009 Serbia 1 Sweden 0 (Friendly)
3/28/2009 Romania 2 Serbia 3 (World Cup Qualifier)

France Recent Form:
9/5/2009 France 1 Romania 1 (World Cup Qualifier)
8/12/2009 Faroe Islands 0 France 1 (World Cup Qualifier)
6/5/2009 France 1 Turkey 0 (Friendly)
6/2/2009 France 0 Nigeria 1 (Friendly)
4/1/2009 France 1 Lithuania 0 (World Cup Qualifier)

Forward Marko Pantelic of Serbia will not play in this match, as he is not match fit and Bosko Jankovic will not play due to a knee injury.

France’s Julien Escude sustained a minor injury in the draw against Romania, but he should play in this match. Franck Ribery did not play much in the draw with Romania due to his lack of match fitness, but he will play in this match, as the French sorely need his offense. Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is also likely to start, as he and Ribery look to kick-start a dormant France offense.

The Stadion Crvena Zvezda, in Belgrade will be packed with over 52,000 fans and it is never an easy place for opposing teams to play, as they are rabid about their soccer.

Dejan Stankovic is the leader in the midfield for Serbia and he is experienced (80 caps) and will have to control the midfield in this game and not allow the French to dominate the ball.

France has not scored more then one goal in their past 6 matches and they will need to get some more offense in this match. They will go all out in this match and attack from the get-go, as they need to win this match.

Serbia is a solid defensive team and they will drop back on defense more then usual, as a draw does not hurt their standing.

Thierry Henry, Karim Benzema, and Franck Ribery have to attack the goal all night, as a low scoring game will hurt them.

Serbia has a solid defense and attackers Milos Krasic and Milan Jovanovic are likely to drop back and support the midfield on defense when needed.

Jason’s Pick: France is not in a must win situation, but if they lose this match to Serbia they may be in trouble. The French need a solid showing in this match to show they are still a world-class team. Serbia can, pretty much, win Group 7 with a win and I think they will do it, as I see them winning 2-1.