Can Serbia be a Dark Horse in the World Cup?

Over the last year or so, in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, Serbia showed pure consistency in their results as well as their strength on both sides of the pitch as they finished as leaders of Group C.

However, their results in this year’s friendly matches have been quite up and down, where they have lost to the likes of Chile and Morocco but have gone on to beat both Nigeria and Bolivia with ease. The outcome of friendly fixtures should not be taken too lightly or seriously, though, it does allow the manager to understand what his best line-up is ahead of the huge competition in the World Cup.

We now look more into the information we need to know about Serbia on and off the pitch.

Fixtures

Sunday, 17th June – Costa Rica vs Serbia (Samara Arena, Samara) kick-off 13:00pm

Friday, 22nd June – Serbia vs Switzerland (Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad) kick-off 19:00pm

Wednesday, 27th June – Serbia vs Brazil (Spartak Stadium, Moscow) kick-off 19:00pm

Serbia

Star player

Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic is regarded as Serbia’s key player that will be heavily relied on in both areas of the pitch. Having played at the top level of English football for many years as well as unsurprisingly making a huge number of appearances for both club and country, the defensive-midfielder is expected to play in his usual position in front of the back-line and will be aiming to intercept and break down the opposition’s attack to quickly setting the side off on the counter-attack.

Given that Serbia are blessed with a number of attacking-minded central midfielders and forwards, Matic will need to make sure that he does not lose concentration of the game for even one second, or his side will be punished for it. The 29-year-old is seen as an individual, who is very composed and is quite intelligent when it comes to reading the game, which should allow the side to express themselves in many ways as well as adapt and adjust to the opponent’s gameplan or style of play.

The one to keep an eye out for…

When looking at the young and rising talents within the current Serbia squad, there is not even one single player that has the hype and potential built around him compared to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Already being linked with the likes of Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid, he will be closely watched by many football supporters including the ones who have become fond of him over the last couple of months.

Being regarded as a complete midfielder, his worth will without a doubt increase during the next couple of weeks if he goes on to replicating his club performances for his country. On top of that, his movement on and off the ball is one of his many important strengths, where the opposition find it hard to get the ball off him and they simply cannot match his boasting figure as well as his striking power.

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What to expect from manager Mladen Krstajic?

Since taking over as the national coach of Serbia in October 2017, Mladen Krstajic hasn’t really had the chance to implement his style or his ideal ways on to the national squad as he has only managed the side for a couple of friendly fixtures. Also, the 44-year-old has no experience as a head coach or manager, which could potentially prove to be a huge make or break moment for all parties.

Overall, Serbia are predicted to setup within a 4-2-3-1 formation, where Nemanja Matic and Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic will be utilised in a double pivot whilst the likes of Milinkovic-Savic, Adem Ljajic, Dusan Tadic and Aleksandar Mitrovic will play further up the pitch. Meanwhile, the experience and leadership skill of both Aleksandar Kolarov and Branislav Ivanovic will be more than important as Krstajic will want his men to stay compact and defensively solid throughout the full competition.

How far can Serbia go in the competition?

It’s never easy to say how far a team can go in the World Cup as it does come down to little moments as well as a bit of luck. However, Serbia as a whole should be aiming to at least get through the group stages of the World Cup, which is something they haven’t achieved since 1998.

At the end of the day, Serbian football is becoming a huge hit in Europe and around the world, and they will certainly be seen as one of the dark horses of the competition. Be sure to check out www.fantasy-worldcup.com where you can register for Free and invite your friends to challenge them in a new Fantasy World Cup game!

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