What can Ireland expect against a team like Serbia? A Forrest Gump quote wouldn't be the first analogy one would reach for, but according to Serbian football journalist Nebojsa Markovic it's a good way of summing up Wednesday's opponents.

The Boys In Green will get their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign underway in Belgrade and given that a Serbia side still smarting from missing out on Euro 2020 at the hands of Scotland are under new management, the sense of uncertainty is even more acute for Stephen Kenny's side.

Markovic joined RTÉ Sport to share an insight into the Serbia team and how new boss Dragan Stojkovic, who was arguably Yugoslavia's greatest ever player in his 1980s and '90s pomp, will approach the fixture tactically and in terms of personnel. 

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Watch the full Serbia preview above, including Markovic's view on how the empty stadium will affect Serbia and why Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic was dropped – and subsequently retired – ahead of this week's games.

Stojkovic has a close friendship with former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who managed him at club level in Japan in the 1990s and shares a similar philosophy on the game. 

He has been bullish about Serbia's chances of beating Ireland and it appears that he will try to get his players to put the Irish side on the back foot on Wednesday.

"He said we're always going to try and attack. When we're playing against stronger sides, we're not going to sit with 10 men behind the ball and just hope that we're going to grind it out, that we're going to go for it and from  everything that he's said in these past few weeks, it seems that we're going to try to be like an attacking side that is going to try and play well," says Markovic of Stojkovic's likely approach.

"However, how much that is going to be possible with these short breaks and the fact that he will have his debut as a national team coach after just two training sessions with the team, it's going to be really tough to achieve."

For Markovic, the back three is the system suits the personnel most, although he adds that Stojkovic has suggested that the formation issue is "not important".

"I think that playing with three at the back is giving us more balance and we also have Nikola Milenkovic as one of the centre-backs and he's an up-and-coming centre-back that is playing brilliantly for Fiorentina and also big clubs are interested in him as well," says Markovic.

Dragan Stojkovic with Arsene Wenger in 2013

The raw talent is further forward in the shape of Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, playmaker Dusan Tadic, striker Luka Jovic and out-of-form target man Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham. Markovic expects the latter to play a part despite the critics who feel he is lucky to have been called up by Stojkovic.

"I think he'll definitely play a part. I think what Mitrovic did in the last four or five years for the national team has been brilliant. He just turned 26 last year and he's already three goals away from becoming our best ever goalscorer and that includes the old Yugoslavia and those records of some really great players," he says.

"He has been one very important player for us in the past. Not only because of goalscoring records but also because he's able to link up with Tadic and other players and he is able to keep the ball when we are under pressure and we have to just hoof it forwards. He's always there to take it and he's definitely a player you need when you're our type of team where we're not the strongest side."

But there is a vulnerability there that Ireland could potentially exploit given Serbia's inconsistency.

"Usually when we play against sides like Republic of Ireland, we believe that we have a better team in terms of individuals and all that kind of stuff," says Markovic.

"But we also know that we're the kind of team that can mess it up against any side or we can be brilliant against any side.

"As Forrest Gump would say, 'it's a box of chocolates', you never know what you're going to get from us. The games against Norway and Scotland are basically the ideal way to show what kind of team Serbia are. Sometimes Serbia are brilliant and sometimes appalling."

Follow Serbia v Republic of Ireland via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to commentary on RTÉ 2fm's Game On.