Branislav Ivanovic insists Ireland are the toughest opponent he has played against

Serbia captain Branislav Ivanovic has saluted the bravery of his side after they survived a stiff challenge in Dublin.


Serbia are now on the cusp of World Cup qualification after having created a four-point gap between themselves and Wales, who occupy the playoff spot.

The Republic of Ireland were in dire need of a win when they faced the Serbians at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, but things did not go as planned as Aleksandar Kolarov scored in a 1-0 win for the visitors. The match did not finish without any drama as Nikola Maksimovic's 68th-minute lead to an Ireland onslaught. Both Shane Long and Jonathan Walters battled for every lost cause in the attacking half, and Ivanovic admitted that he and his colleagues had to battle hard for the win.

Branislav Ivanovic eyes World Cup qualification with Austria win

Serbia captain Branislav Ivanovic has spoken about the team's unity as they look to cement their place in next year's World Cup finals in Russia.


The Zenit St. Petersburg star has seen the highs and lows of the country, and he is keen to finish things off with an important win against Austria.

Wales are currently four points adrift of Serbia heading into the final set of World Cup qualifiers, and Ivanovic has called on his side to maintain their focus with a victory assuring them of a berth in next summer's global tournament.

Serbia plan to keep top spot - Branislav Ivanovic

Branislav Ivanovic has admitted that Serbia planning to win their upcoming set of fixtures in order to book their spot in the World Cup finals in Russia next year.


Serbia are currently tied on points with the Republic of Ireland (12) in Group D, but they are overwhelming favourites to beat Moldova at home on Saturday.

The East European nation will thereafter face Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday, and Ivanovic is looking for a positive result from both games, he said: "Subconsciously we are looking to get six points from the two games. We are favourites at home to Moldova on Saturday, after that we go to Ireland, and we have to try and stay in first place. Every match in qualification is decisive, each point is the most important."

PREMIER LEAGUE GOING STRONG AFTER 25 YEARS

The English Premier League is at the cusp of its 26th season yet the drama never ends.


The theatrical value well exceeds its counterparts despite the La Liga and Bundesliga being hailed for having the best players and more technical depth. The league has continued to evolve in line with modern happenings with the latest probably being Friday night kick-off.

ARE CHELSEA WEAKER THIS SEASON?

Chelsea lost the Community Shield to Arsenal amid shoddy pre-season preparations and transfer market issues, but there are bigger concerns for the Premier League champs. The Gunners might have stolen the title through a penalty shootout (after a red card to Pedro handed them the advantage in the closing minutes), but the game exposed loopholes in the Blues setup.

After a poor start last season, the 3-4-2-1 masterpiece switch helped Chelsea leap forward. Two creative forces played behind the striker, with the wing backs excellent in support. The lack of distractions helped the regular team focus on the league and they bonded. Now there is the added factor of the Champions League which will force rotation, and create tension in the team.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLAYOFF DRAW ON FRIDAY

The Champions League playoff draw is slated for Friday August 4, 2017. The playoff sides would know which teams they would be facing for a chance to reach the finals later in the year.

Premier League fourth place side Liverpool would be seeded along with Serie A team Napoli, Spanish side Sevilla, Portuguese team Sporting Lisbon and Russia top flight club CSKA Moscow. They would be paired against any of Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, Turkish Super Lig side Istanbul Basaksehir, Swiss side BSC Young Boys, Ligue 1 side Nice or Romanian side Steaua Bucharest.

IVANOVIC READY FOR MANCINI

Zenit is yet to play its first game under the new boss Mancini, but, the skipper of the club Domenico Criscito is showering praises on him already.

Mancini has been roped in by Zenit on the place of Mircea Lucescu whose solitary season in charge was not very successful. Under him, the Lions failed to make it to Europe as they finished no. 3 in the standings of the top tier.

Ivanovic talks about why he chose Zenit Saint Petersburg

After making over 250 appearances for the English Premier League club Chelsea, Branislav Ivanovic opted to make a transfer to the Russian outfit Zenit Saint Petersburg on a 2 and a half year contract.


The veteran defender had the chance to join other clubs from different leagues including the Chinese Super League but he got lured on making a move to Zenit St. Petersburg and the 33 year old footballer has talked about this switch as well as his reasoning behind the move.

CONTE: CHELSEA ARE STILL REBUILDING

Despite Premier League leaders Chelsea clear to lift the title this week, head coach Antonio Conte has said that the team was still building.


Conte could do a double this term in winning the league and the FA Cup – though they have Arsenal to contend with – but he insists that more is yet to come as the team was in “transition.”

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