In our Serbia Preview: World Cup 2018, we share our analysis about this Serbia team. Serbia return for the first time since 2010 having finished ahead of Republic of Ireland and Wales in World Cup qualifying.

Serbia Preview: World Cup 2018

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Marko Dmitrovic, Predrag Rajkovic, Vladimir Stojkovic

Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic, Nikola Milenkovic, Milan Rodic, Antonio Rukavina, Uros Spajic, Vladimir Stojkovic, Dusko Tosic, Milos Veljkovic

Midfielders: Marko Grujic, Filip Kostic, Adem Ljajic, Nemanja Matic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luka Milivojevic, Nemanja Radonjic, Dusan Tadic, Andrija Zivkovic

Forwards: Luka Jovic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Aleksandar Prijovic

  • Manager: Mladen Krstajic
  • Captain: Aleksandar Kolarov
  • Best Finish: Fourth (1930—as Kingdom of Yugoslavia, 1962–-as FPR Yugoslavia)

Likely starting lineup

Analysis

Having missed out on Brazil four years ago, the progress made by Serbia in the last eight years since their previous World Cup outing may have gone unnoticed.

Under the guidance of Krstajic they made their way impressively through qualifying, topping a challenging group and picking up some excellent results along the way. They’ve given off the aura of a team capable of surprising plenty in Russia this summer.

In the early stages of their qualifying things weren’t going well under former boss Slavoljub Muslin, who had fallen out with star man Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and was implementing a three-man defence that didn’t appear to be helping the team.

Krstajic’s appointment after Muslin’s departure was a turning point. The new coach drafted the Lazio sensation back into the setup, reverted to a straightforward 4-2-3-1 system and in a somewhat controversial move, handed the captain’s armband to Kolarov, stripping the accolade away from Branislav Ivanovic.

Serbia have made major strides since then and ahead of the tournament a number of key pieces seem to be falling into place.

Kolarov had a brilliant end to the season with Roma, while ahead of him Luka Milivojevic has kicked on for Crystal Palace, adding crucial goals to his commanding midfield presence. Aleksandar Mitrovic, so often a conundrum for previous Serbia bosses, has found some of his best form on loan at Fulham in the second half of last season.

They also have a world-class talent on their hands in the form of Milinkovic-Savic, who has been linked with a potential nine-figure transfer to a giant of European football this summer. Serbia have power in all portions of the pitch too, making them one of the most physical sides in the tournament.

In 2010 Serbia froze on the big stage despite being given plenty of billing. They have an impressive squad and a fine manager again eight years on, and will be hoping to avoid the same mistakes so many of their compatriots made in South Africa.

 

Key Man – Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Serbia Preview: World Cup 2018

One of the main storylines in Serie A this season has been the emergence of Milinkovic-Savic, not only as a tremendous footballer, but arguably one of the best players in Italy.

Since joining Lazio he’s gone from strength to strength and is now in a position where club manager Simone Inzaghi has built a team to get the best out of his many talents. Milinkovic-Savic has relished that responsibility.

He’ll head to the World Cup as someone so many previews around the globe will be highlighting as one to watch. How he deals with that type of pressure may persuade or dissuade some of European football’s biggest names from splashing huge money to sign him after the competition comes to an end.

Serbia have an excellent setup to bring the best from him. Mitrovic can hold the ball up and find Milinkovic-Savic when he does rattle forward, while Milivojevic and Nemanja Matic offer excellent protection in front of the back four. The midfielder, as such, has the potential to ignite this tournament.

 

Serbia’s Group Stage fixtures

Sunday, June 17

Costa Rica vs. Serbia, 8am, FOX, Telemundo, Sling Blue and fubo (7-day free trial)

Friday, June 22

Serbia vs. Switzerland, 2pm, FOX, Telemundo, Sling Blue and fubo (7-day free trial)

Wednesday, June 27

Serbia vs. Brazil, 2pm, FOX, Telemundo, Sling Blue and fubo (7-day free trial)

 

Serbia’s path to the final

If Serbia wins Group E, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group F which will either be Sweden, Germany, Mexico or South Korea. If Serbia wins that Round of 16 game, Serbia will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group G (England, Belgium, Panama or Tunisia) and the team that finishes second in Group H (either Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan). If Serbia advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the A1 vs. B2 versus C1 vs. D2 series.

If Serbia finishes second in Group E, Serbia will play the team that finishes first in Group F (either Germany, Mexico, South Korea or Sweden). If Serbia wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group H (either Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan) and the team that finishes second in Group G (either England, Tunisia, Belgium or Panama). If Serbia advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the B1 vs. A2 versus D1 vs. C2 series.

 

SEE MORE:

• Previews for all 32 World Cup teams
• World Cup Bracket (free download)
• World Cup groups
• World Cup TV schedule

 

Serbia World Cup shirt (home)

The Eagles of Serbia return to the World Cup for the first time since 2000. With a roster of players currently playing at many of the storied clubs of Europe, led by captain Aleksandar Kolarov of Roma and vice-captain Nemanja Matic of Manchester United, Serbia will like their chances in a group that includes Switzerland and Costa Rica, plus favorites Brazil.

The home jersey is in traditional color red, with white accents. The Federation badge is sewn on, with embroidered PUMA logo.

See more details about Serbia World Cup shirt

 

Serbia World Cup shirt (away)

The Eagles of Serbia return to the World Cup for the first time since 2000. With a roster of players currently playing at many of the storied clubs of Europe, led by captain Aleksandar Kolarov of Roma and vice-captain Nemanja Matic of Manchester United, Serbia will like their chances in a group that includes Switzerland and Costa Rica, plus favorites Brazil.

See more details about Serbia World Cup shirt

 

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