the key issues.
CAN WALES REDISCOVER THEIR EDGE? By manager Chris Coleman's own admission, Wales were "not on it" during their October camp for draws with Austria and Georgia. The 2-2 scoreline in Vienna was a decent result against opponents who had not been beaten at home since 2012, but the failure to beat Georgia - ranked 137 in the world at the time - put question marks against the Euro 2016 semi-finalists. With four of their last six games in the campaign away from home, Wales know they must shake off any complacency and capitalise on home advantage.
BALE OUT TO BE THE REAL DEAL AGAIN Since Wales were together in October, Gareth Bale has put pen to paper on a bumper new contract at Real Madrid which reflects his standing as one of the best players in the world. Bale was also named Welsh player of the year this week for a record sixth time and it is likely he will have to be at his brilliant best if Wales are to return to winning ways. With three goals in his last two games for Real, the suspicion is that Bale is close to hitting top form again.
RAMSEY RETURN KEY FOR WALES How Wales have missed the creative spark provided by Aaron Ramsey. The Arsenal midfielder has not played for his country since suspension ruled him out of the Euro 2016 semi-final against Portugal. Ramsey has only just returned to action following a hamstring injury suffered on the opening day of the season, and is still short of match fitness. But his importance to Wales cannot be under-estimated.
LEARNING THE LESSONS OF HISTORY If revenge really is a dish best served cold, then now is the time for Wales to hand out some helpings. It is more than four years since Coleman was left clinging to his job after a nightmare in Novi Sad, where Wales were thrashed 6-1. Serbia inflicted more misery in Cardiff a year later as a 3-0 win resulted in even more Welsh navel-gazing - the result of which was a glorious march to the semi-finals of Euro 2016. But for all the fun in France, Novi Sad has never been forgotten and there is no doubt Wales believe they owe Serbia one.
SAINT TADIC IS A CLASS ACT Southampton spent nearly PS11million prizing Dusan Tadic from Dutch club FC Twente in the summer of 2014 and it has not been difficult to see why. The skilful Tadic is a match-winner on his day, whether he is assisting fellow forwards or finding room to score himself. Although he has scored only once for the Saints this season, the bad news for Wales is that he has reserved his best form for the national team.
Three goals in as many games makes him one of the best performers in World Cup qualifying so far.
TONIGHT'S OTHER GAMES When Wales and Serbia kick off in Cardiff tonight, they will know the results of the other games in Group D. The Republic of Ireland go to Vienna to play Austria, while Georgia host Moldova in Tbilisi. Both matches will start at 5pm GMT.
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|Publication:||Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Nov 12, 2016|
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