After an encouraging performance in the defeat against Serbia on Wednesday night in the opening 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier, thoughts immediately turn to Republic of Ireland's next opponents Luxembourg. 

They might be one of Europe's traditional minnows but they are one that has been making exponential progress and could spring a surprise or two for Ireland on Saturday.

Local football journalist Bob Hemmen from daily newspaper Luxemburger Wort spoke to RTÉ Sport before travelling to Dublin with the team to cover the game.

He explained that the UEFA Nations League had given the team extra confidence, having beaten Montenegro, Cyprus and Azerbaijan - who they also face in Ireland's World Cup group - along the way in their League C group, and just three-and-a-half years on from holding current world champions France to a draw away from home.

"Like they've shown already in the past years, there could be against Ireland one or two games where they can get a point or even a win," he said.

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"The whole [Nations League] campaign was very interesting for them just to see that they could compete against those teams that are regular level.

"They could see that over a whole group stage that they could compete against better teams that are a higher league than [League D] which they played in before.

"In terms of confidence, it gives them a lot of confidence because it's still a young team and a young team sees that they can compete on the pitch, it gives them confidence."

Manager Luc Holtz, who was previously Under-21 manager much like Stephen Kenny - albeit with 10 more years in the senior job - is the first manager to attempt to play the game on Luxembourg's own terms rather than being reactive according to Hemmen.

He favours a 4-1-4-1 formation and even though they will be clear underdogs on Saturday in Dublin, he is unlikely to deviate from a positive mindset, at least early doors.

"I personally think there's a chance that they will try to surprise Ireland a little bit at the beginning, to make pressure and try to play offensive," said Hemmen.

"But also Luxembourg in the last years have struggled against teams like Ireland who have strong players. So we have to see if they're physically too strong, probably Luxembourg will look to defend and go to counter-attacks.

Leandro Barreiro in Bundesliga action with Mainz

"But at least at the beginning [they will] try to see 'what can we do here' and not just focusing on defence."

The players will be mostly unknown however to Irish audiences, although there is an increasing number of Luxembourg's players on the books at clubs in bigger leagues.

The three Hemmen signals as key for Luxembourg are Leandro Barreiro who plays for German top flight Mainz, Gerson Rodrigues from Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv and Christopher Martins of Swiss champions Young Boys.

Aside from the presence of the Portuguese diaspora in Luxembourg, the country has benefited from the efforts made at youth level with a number of players coming through at the Mondercange academy where different age groups get regular weekly games against club and international youth teams.

"The idea is to take the best players, no matter which club they play for and to have them in for practice the whole week so they can play with the best guys at their age in Luxembourg which is quite good for them," he said.

"And also in terms of coaching, if you look at the club level, coaches here aren't all professional so if you can have them here and practice with the best coaches and the best players, then that is sure to help everyone."

Follow Republic of Ireland v Luxembourg 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 Radio 1 from 7pm.