Serbia are a win away from qualifying for the knockout stages

Costa Rica v Serbia: Group E - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

After beating Costa Rica in their opening fixture of Group E, through a sweet free-kick from Aleksandar Kolarov, Serbia have a huge chance of qualifying for the knockout stages if they can go on to beat Switzerland on Friday night. This would allow the side to prepare themselves for the next round of the competition as well as not having to worry about the final group match against Brazil.

However, beating Switzerland is not a straightforward procedure at all, which Tite and Brazil found out the hard way as they were prevented the three points due to Vladimir Petkovic’s men being well-organised at the back and also dangerous on the counter-attack. Had the Swiss possessed a clinical striker or two in their squad, they would be seen as one of the dark horses of the World Cup.

Given that Brazil play Costa Rica in the earlier kick-off, Serbia can keep an eye out on the South American side, who they will be facing a couple of days after the Switzerland fixture. If Costa Rica somehow hold Brazil to a draw and Serbia go on to win their match, it would be the first time that the Orovi, have gone past the group stages since 1998 FIFA World Cup which was in France.

The coach is expected to keep things the same and will continue to utilise his 4-2-3-1 setup, where Luka Milivojevic and Nemanja Matic will be playing as the double pivot just ahead of the backline and will be controlling and dominating the game in the middle of the pitch. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will aim to cause havoc in the number ten role, just behind the lone forward Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Meanwhile on the flanks, Adem Ljajic and Dusan Tadic will be looking to give the opposition’s defenders a really hard time through their movement on and off the ball as well as the burst of pace into the final third of the field. Although both wingers are not seen as consistent goal-scorers, their ultimate intelligence allows them to provide more freedom and space for the full-backs to roam into.

In defence, it is unlikely that there will be any changes – which will mean that back four is going to be Aleksandar Kolarov, Dusko Tosic, Milenkovic and Branislav Ivanovic. The side have well-organised defence, and it is filled with warriors and individuals that have a lot of experience. Switzerland’s attackers will need to put in a lot of hard work if they want to get past Serbia’s solid backline.

For Switzerland – who are currently joint in second place with Brazil – this match should be seen as one that defines whether they are going to go past the group stages or will they be packing their bags very early. If Vladimir Petkovic and his players feel they can go on to beat this Serbia side, they will need certain players like Fabian Schar, Valon Behrami and Xherdan Shaqiri simply at their best.

Overall, Switzerland should not be underestimated, as they are compact and defensively solid despite the lack of goals they have in the squad as a whole. Though, Serbia are expected to get the job done and book their place into the Round of 16, as long as they stick to their same style of play and the players remain focus and consistent, like they were from the first minute of the game till end against Costa Rica.

Predicted line-ups

Serbia – Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Ljajic; Mitrovic.

Switzerland – Sommer; Lichsteiner, Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic.

Prediction

Serbia 2-1 Switzerland.

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