Serbia clash gives New Zealand a chance to show their mettle
New Zealand v Serbia, kick-off Saturday 4.15pm
Altitude seems to be the pre-World Cup buzzword, and now Serbia and New Zealand are the latest football teams to help out Austria’s tourism trade as they face each other in Klagenfurt on Saturday, 400 metres above sea level.
New Zealand will be without the scorer in their undeserved 2-1 loss to Australia on Monday, Chris Killen, as he flies to England to get married before returning for his country’s final two warm-up matches.
It means a New Zealand side already shy of genuine goal threats will struggle more than ever to find the net, particularly against a Serbian outfit who’ve probably forgotten what it feels like to concede – Nemanja Vidic and co have gone 360 minutes without seeing their net ripple.
And, unlike their opponents, they having no such trouble at the other end either, scoring six goals in their last two games against fellow World Cup sides Algeria and Japan.
It’s not a bad combination to have mastered, and it’s no wonder that some are beginning to look at Radi Antic’s team as potential dark horses for the tournament, at 50/1.
Ranked 15th in the world, they are certainly a class apart from their Kiwi opposition in Austria, and it’s no surprise to see them 1/3 favourites to win the game.
But New Zealand weren’t bowled over by an Australian side ranked 58 places above them and demonstrated plenty of spirit, if few moments of class.
So while a third successive 3-0 Serbian win, at 7/1, is certainly not out of the question, should New Zealand manage to begin as brightly as they did on Monday, the draw/Serbia bet in the half-time/full-time market might be worth a pop at 7/2.