Ireland v Serbia: Five Serbs to watch out for
Martin O'Neill's second home match sees the Republic of Ireland come up against Serbia at the Aviva Stadium. We look at some of the players from Serbia to keep an eye on.
A one time target for Alex Ferguson with a deal looking imminent, the young Serb has taken Serie A by storm with some impressive performances for his first club Fiorentina and now at Roma. He initially made waves at Partizan Belgrade and a deal was all but done with Manchester United.
However, United pulled out of the deal at the last minute and he signed for Fiorentina instead. He was bought by Roma as a replacement for Erik Lamela who signed for Spurs and scored on his debut against Verona. He's an attacking midfielder with an eye for a goal and is certainly one to watch out for if selected by new Serb boss Ljubinko Drulović. It's his first time back in the squad in nearly two years having been ostracised by former boss Siniša Mihajlović for refusing to sing the national anthem. He'll be eager to impress the new boss so.
Recently signed by Jose Mourinho for Chelsea from Benfica, Matic already looks like a hugely impressive midfielder. When Chelsea went to the Etihad a couple of weeks back for the big clash against Manchester City, which they won 1-0, it was notable for the performance of Matic and how he kept the normally dominant Yaya Toure (see pic above)very quiet. He's a classic box-to-box midfielder and Chelsea fans are very happy that his second spell at the club promises to be a lot more fruitful than his first one.
Not many Chelsea fans had heard of him when he signed from Lokomotiv Moscow in 2008. Today he is a cult hero amongst the Stamford Bridge faithful. He's a no-nonsense defender who has a penchant for popping up with important goals, most notably his winning goal v Benfica (pic above) in the Europa League Final last season. He also scored Chelsea's goal in the recent 1-0 win over Manchester City at the Etihad.
He came to the attention of the world when he inexplicably threw his arm into Luis Suarez's mouth at Anfield last season but there is much more to Ivanovic than that. He's one of those players that every team needs, someone you would go to war with, someone who has your back, a true warrior. And, of course, he is the captain of the Serbia team.
The Manchester City defender arrived with a big reputation when he signed from Lazio for £19m in 2010. He's a fullback with an absolute rocket of a shot and who, on his day, is as good a defender as you are likely to find anywhere. City fans will argue that there have not been enough good days, but there is no denying that he is a player of real quality and another who knows where the back of the net is.
Aguero gets all the plaudits for THAT goal on the last day of the season when City dramatically won the title in injury time, but people forget that it was Kolarov's goal just before which set up the most dramatic of finales. Any free kicks conceded by Ireland within a 40-yard range will represent a real threat as Kolarov is a bit of a dead ball specialist.
Who? Okay, relatively unknown in these parts, but in Serbia and in Portugal, where he plays his club football with Benfica, he is regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in European football. He's only just turned 20 and can play up top or out on the wing and after dazzling with his home club, Partizan Belgrade in the Champions League last season, he was signed by Benfica.
He has scored five goals in 18 appearances this season for the Portuguese club and many feel it's only a matter of time before he is plying his trade at one of big heavyweights of the European footballing elite. This is a goal he scored for Benfica against deadly rivals, Sporting Lisbon earlier this season: