Preview: Montenegro vs. Romania – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Nations League clash between Montenegro and Romania, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Following their promotion to the UEFA Nations League‘s second tier, Montenegro welcome near neighbours Romania to Podgorica on Saturday evening, for the teams’ opening League B Group G fixture.

Only an independent football nation for 15 years, the hosts have progressed up the ranks in Europe’s newest international competition, but like their visitors, failed to qualify for this winter’s World Cup.

Match preview

Montenegro's Milutin Osmajic celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 28, 2022© Reuters

A packed summer schedule kicks off at the modest Podgorica City Stadium this weekend, as Montenegro begin life in League B – where they will tussle with Finland, Bosnia and Saturday’s opponents Romania – after being promoted from the Nations League’s third tier in 2020.

It has been a long road back from the wilderness for one of the most recent additions to Europe’s international scene, as their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign concluded without a single win – and only three goals in eight matches; conceding 22 – following an underwhelming Nations League debut in 2018-19.

Subsequently finishing top of League C Group 1 last time around – albeit ahead of minnows Luxembourg, Azerbaijan and Cyprus – the Montenegrins also fared far better in their attempts to reach Qatar 2022, though they still came up short in pursuit of a first World Cup appearance.

Coming fourth in a competitive group featuring Turkey, Norway and the Netherlands, the side managed by well-travelled coach Miodrag Radulovic were well placed to contend for a playoff place coming into the campaign’s finale, but taking only one point from three matches against their more established rivals ultimately ended any lingering hopes.

An away loss to Armenia was then followed by victory over Greece in their springtime friendlies, but the Brave Falcons now turn their thoughts to their opening quartet of fixtures in the Nations League.

Romania players celebrate their first goal on July 22, 2021© Reuters

Also set for a hectic June schedule, with four games to complete in the space of 10 days, Romania return to competitive action following a disappointing draw and defeat from their most recent friendly outings.

Held by Israel in Netanya and beaten by Greece in Bucharest, the Tricolorii have won only two of their last seven matches, having previously trailed in third behind Germany and North Macedonia in World Cup Qualifying Group J.

Despite finishing the campaign with a 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein, missing out on a playoff berth cost former manager Mirel Radoi his job, and current coach Edward Iordanescu subsequently stepped into the breach.

Following in the illustrious footsteps of his father, Anghel Iordanescu, who memorably led Romania to the quarter-finals of USA 1994, Iordanescu junior will aim to improve on his predecessor’s performance in the Nations League – and a fast start in the next fortnight could make all the difference.

Third behind Austria and Norway in the 2020 edition, the Romanians were unable to make much of an impact at League B level, following their promotion from League C at the end of the inaugural competition.

Having qualified for three straight World Cups in the 1990s, it has been a tale of steady decline ever since for a proud football nation, but Iordanescu’s squad will be intent on reversing that trend in the coming months.

Montenegro form (all competitions):

Romania form (all competitions):

Team News

Montenegro coach Miodrag Radulovic during the match on March 28, 2022© Reuters

Despite calling up several fresh faces to his initial 34-man squad, Montenegro coach Miodrag Radulovic is likely to opt for experience at the start of the new Nations League campaign, and a number of familiar players will feature.

Star striker and captain Stevan Jovetic (63 caps, 31 goals) should lead the line up front this weekend, while Lazio full-back Adam Marusic is also expected to be in the starting XI alongside Risto Radunovic, who plays his club football in Romania with FCSB.

Eighty-five cap forward Fatos Beciraj is likely to be involved from the bench, but another old hand, Atletico Madrid’s Stefan Savic, misses out after an injury-disrupted season in the Spanish capital.

While Romania’s Ianis Hagi is once again sidelined after suffering a serious knee injury on domestic duty with Rangers earlier this year, and Parma winger Dennis Man is unavailable, the visitors arrive in Podgorica otherwise at full strength.

George Puscas, whose loan spell at Pisa recently ended in Serie B playoff final failure, is likely to feature at the front of a 4-2-3-1 formation, which Edward Iordanescu opted for in both of his first two games in charge.

Another Italy-based squad member, Vlad Chiriches, captains the team from centre-back, while Cagliari’s Razvan Marin – recently relegated from Serie A with the Sardinian side – is set to start in midfield.

Montenegro possible starting lineup:
Mijatovic; Vesovic, Tomasevic, Vujacic, Radunovic; Marusic, Vukcevic, Haksabanovic, Osmajic; Jankovic; Jovetic

Romania possible starting lineup:
Nita; Manea, Chiriches, Rus, Bancu; R. Marin, Olaru; Mihaila, Cicaldau, Maxim; Puscas

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We say: Montenegro 1-1 Romania

Having lost just one of their last four outings on home soil, Montenegro will not be easy to break down on Saturday – particularly for a Romania side which does not always deliver in the final third.

As both teams will be back in action in midweek, starting out with a point apiece would represent an acceptable result for either nation, and a low-scoring draw could be on the cards.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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