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“Serbia” will be a threat for the World Cup

Sarah Almas: After breaking away from Yugoslavia, Croatia is moving forward to prove itself as a football superpower. Serbia is quite a bit behind. However, there is no way to ‘dismiss’ Serbia as a team at all. They can make anything happen in the World Cup. Serbia is going to play in Qatar World Cup with such a possibility.

Football History:

As part of Yugoslavia, Serbia has been active in football since the late 19th century. Participated in various events including the first World Cup. However, after separation from Yugoslavia, Serbia-Montenegro became known as an independent country from 1992. At that time their name was ‘Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’. However, that did not last long. Montenegro separated from Serbia in 2003. As such, the age of the current Serbia is actually less than a century and a half.

Current Serbia played its first international match recognized by FIFA on 16 August 2006 against the Czech Republic. Serbia won the match on the ground of the Czechs with 3-1 goals. Which is their first win in international football. And Danko Lazović scored the first international goal for Serbia in the 41st minute of that match.

The country named Serbia has never played in the main stage of the Euro Championship. Didn’t see any title.

Serbia in the World Cup:

The current Serbia has played on the main stage of the 2010 and 2018 World Cup football. Although could not pass the barrier of the group stage. In their World Cup debut, Serbia lost 0-1 to Ghana. The next match was against Germany by the same margin. In the last match, Serbia lost to Australia with 1-2 goals. Marko Pantelic scored the only goal for Serbia in that match. He is the first goal scorer of independent Serbia in the World Cup.

In the 2018 World Cup, Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0 in the first match. This is Serbia’s first World Cup match win. Aleksandar Kolarov was the hero of the victory.

In the next two matches, Serbia lost to Switzerland and Brazil. Departed from the group stage.

Memorable footballers of Serbia:

Aleksandar Kolarov is one of the best footballers in the history of Serbia. He played 94 matches for the country. His number of international goals as a left wing back is 11. In 2011, he was selected as the best of the year in Serbia. In club football, Kolarov played in clubs like Lazio, Manchester City and Inter Milan. Won 11 titles including Italian Serie A and English Premier League. He spent 2017-20 at AS Roma, another club in Italy. Got a place in the best Roma team of the decade.

Nemanja Vidić played for Serbia from 2002-11. He scored 2 goals in 56 matches as a center back. He is one of the world’s best defenders of his time, not only from Serbia. He became the best of the year in Serbia twice. He is the fourth player in history to have two seasons in the English Premier League. This record is held by Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Aury and Kevin De Bruyne. He played in his country’s Red Star Belgrade, Russia’s Spartak Moscow, Man U R Inter Milan. He spent golden time at Man U from 2006-14. He won 18 titles in his club career, including five leagues and one Champions League for the Red Devils.

Dejan Stanković will be remembered in a different place in history. He is the only one who has the experience of playing World Cup for three countries. He played the 1998 World Cup for Federal Yugoslavia. In 2006, he was an important member of Serbia-Montenegro. And in 2010 he played for the country called Serbia. Started club career for Red Star Belgrade. He later spent six seasons at Lazio. The last decade at Inter Milan. Received the Serbian best of the year award twice. He has the second highest record of playing 103 matches for the country. Scored 15 goals.

Branislav Ivanovic has played the most 105 matches for Serbia after Yugoslavia. Besides, Savo Milasovic played 102 matches.

Serbia’s best player Dragan Stojković:

Dragan Stojkovic played two World Cups for Yugoslavia and Federal Yugoslavia. Got a place in the World Cup All Star Team of 1990. His name was mentioned in the nineties along with Maradona, Baggio and Gheorghe Hagi. The encounter between Maradona and Stojkovic in the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals has not yet faded from memory. Maradona’s Argentina won the match in a tiebreaker after a tough fight. Interestingly, Maradona and Stojkovic, the best of the two teams, missed their respective shots in the tiebreaker. Stoykovich had two goals in the game. He scored those two goals in the knock out match against Spain.

Stojkovic led the then federal Yugoslavia in the 1998 World Cup. The team lost to Holland in the knock out phase.

Stoykovich scored 15 goals in 84 matches for the country. Received the best of the year award of his country twice. He spent the last seven seasons of his career in the Japanese League. He received the country’s national honor for his contribution to the rise of Japanese football. In 2022, Serbia awarded him the ‘Order of Karadorde’, the country’s highest state honour.

Road to Qatar:

Serbia directly passed the Qatar World Cup qualifiers. Portugal has been pushed into the play-offs in the ‘A’ group. The remaining four teams in the group were Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan. Serbia was undefeated in all eight matches of the group. Six wins and two draws. The victory in their last match on Portuguese soil was, however, controversial. A Ronaldo goal late in the game was disallowed after the ball crossed the line.

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored the highest eight goals in Serbia’s jersey in the qualifiers. Four goals came from Dusan Vlahovic.

Current star:

28-year-old forward Aleksandar Mitrovic is in the current Serbian team. Currently owns the highest 50 goals for the country in 76 matches. This forward who scored 6 goals in 7 matches in the country’s jersey in 2022 is in great form. He has scored 9 goals in 12 matches for Fulham till October. In the 2018-19 season, he was the best scorer in the UEFA Nations League. In addition, Mitrovic has shown his ability by scoring 6 goals in the 2022-23 Nations League. Became the joint top scorer of the group stage with Erling Haaland. Mitrovic can be terrible bad news for any team in Qatar World Cup.

Serbian attacking midfielder Dusan Tadic also captains the team. He played 90 matches for the country and scored 18 goals. Great understanding with Mitrovic in the national team. The 33-year-old Tadic has an extra ‘cautionary message’ for any opponent if he is on pace at the World Cup. He has been playing in Ajax for the past five seasons. He was selected as the best player of the Dutch league for the season 2020-21.

Apart from that, Filip Kostic, Nemanja Maksimovic and Luka Jovic of the current squad should be kept an extra eye.

Recent Performance:

Serbia’s biggest achievement in 2022 must be getting a direct qualification for the World Cup in Qatar. They have also moved into the top tier of the UEFA Nations League. They played in the second tier in the Nations League of the 2022-23 season. They beat Norway, Slovenia and Sweden to top the group. According to the rules, next season Serbia will play in Nations League-1.

In 2022, Serbia played 8 international matches. Won five. Two losses and one draw.

Coach and Tactics:

Dragon Stojkovic has been serving as the manager of the Serbia team since March 2021. Under him, Serbia has qualified for the World Cup and achieved success in the Nations League. The best player of his country wants to transform the team into a world power. He is moving forward successfully on that path. Under him, Serbia has seen 13 wins, 4 draws and 3 losses in 20 matches so far. In 2021, he received the award of the best coach of Serbia.

Serbia team basically played in 3-4-1-2 system. Where the main goal is to occupy the middle ground. His strategy is very effective. Because in modern football, to be able to take possession of the midfield means to pass half way on the road to success. Stojkovic’s XI of choice at the World Cup could be – Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (goalkeeper), Milos Velikovic, Nikola Milenkovic, Strahinja Pavlovic, Andrea Zivkovic, Sasa Lukic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Filip Kostic, Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlavic.

Target for World Cup:

In 2018, Serbia, Switzerland and Brazil played in the same group. This time also they are ‘G’ group companions. Only Cameroon came in place of Costa Rica last time. There is no difference in strength between the Swiss and Serbia. The one who plays well on the given day will win. On the other hand, Serbia will enter the field as favorites against Cameroon. Brazil remains. They have the ability to pull off a surprise against the five-time World Cup champions. Brazil’s current squad is largely untested in front of Europe’s dynamic and power football. So nothing can be said about this group. Any two teams can enter the knock out phase. Even Brazil may be eliminated from the group stage.

Serbia’s World Cup mission will begin with a match against Brazil on November 24. The next match on November 28 is against Cameroon. And the last match is December 2. The opponent is Switzerland.

Possible 26 people in the World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers – Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Marko Dimitrovic, Marko Ilic

Defence: Stefan Mitrovic, Strahinja Pavlovic, Milos Velikovic, Filip Mladanovic, Aleska Tarjic, Srdan Babic, Nikola Milenkovic, Matia Nastasic

Midfield – Dusan Tadic, Filip Kostic, Nemanja Maximovic, Nemanja Radonjic, Filip Duricic, Sasa Lukic, Andrea Zivkovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Nemanja Gudeljic, Marko Grujic, Uros Racic

Forwards – Aleksandar Mitrovic, Luka Jovic, Dusan Vlahovic

Conclusion:

Serbia, which is currently in the 21st position of the FIFA ranking, can be seen as a ‘dark horse’ in the World Cup in Qatar.

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