Serbia and Spain have announced their 19-man squads for the 2021 World Cup Qualifier showdown at the Makis Stadium in Belgrade tomorrow (Saturday).
All three nations in European Championship B are tied on two points, with the Serbians needing to beat their opponents tomorrow by a difference of 14 points in order to retain their title, and move on to the next stage of World Cup qualification in 2019. Russia currently head the group, after defeating Serbia 36-18 in Moscow last weekend – having previously fallen to Spain 32-24 in their opening fixture, in Valencia,
As two of the three (Serbia, Russia and Spain) will progress to join Italy and either Greece or Malta, plus the bottom two sides from the European Championship (involving France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) next autumn, the Bears will be hoping that tomorrows clash in the Serbian capital does not end in a draw.
Serbia are able to recall four heritage players – Jonathan Krees, David Andjelic, Lija Radan and Brandon Janjic – who, along with head coach Brett davidson, missed out on the trip to Russia due to visa application issues.
“We have put ourselves in a tight spot with our loss against Russia,” commented Serbian skipper, Dalibor Vukanovic. If we want to progress we must not just win, but also cover some points differential, which is very hard to do in a World Cup qualifying match. In their match against Russia, Spain clearly showed their progress so we are expecting a real battle.”
Toulouse scrum half, Romain Pallares, with a try hat-trick was the star of the Spaniards’ win over Russia; the visitors having made a couple of changes to their squad due to work commitments.
“We know that every nation will want a home win,” said Spain head coach, Darren Fisher, “so this game will be no easy task. There have been elements we needed to work on, and there are things we will need to bring to this game if we want to get anything out of it. I have rewarded players for their effort against Russia and they know they have to put in an even bigger shift. It will test both sets of players but we have to believe in ourselves.”
Serbia and Spain have met just once before, in a 2017 World Cup qualifier in Valencia. Searbia won on that occasion 64-4, with Milos Calic (one of nine players still in the current squad) scoring a hat-trick.