World Cup 2018 Serbia team profile: How they qualified, star man, World Cup record, fixtures
Serbia will be hoping their balance of experience of youth can help them in their first World Cup for eight years. Here is all the information you need to know about their side.
- Honours: No trophies
- FIFA Ranking: 35th
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Serbia qualified first in Group D of the European qualifiers, two points clear of the Republic of Ireland. The two key goals came from Aleksandar Kolarov in the clash in Dublin and from Aleksandar Prijovic against Georgia in Belgrade on October 9, 2017 after the defeat against Austria in Vienna had hampered their campaign briefly.
STAR MAN - Aleksandar Kolarov
Aleksandar Kolarov, captain and undisputed leader of Mladen Krstajic's side. Back from a great season at Roma on his return to the Italian championship, the 32-year-old left-back is playing in a second World Cup after being part of expedition under Radomir Antic to South Africa 2010.
NEXT BIG THING - Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
TURIN, TORINO - APRIL 29: Sergej Milinkovic Savic of SS Lazio celebrate a opening goal during the serie A match between Torino FC and SS Lazio at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on April 29, 2018 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)Getty Images
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic did not play a minute in the World Cup qualifiers due to the choice of the previous coach. The wind has changed and with the arrival of Mladen Krstajic the offensive midfielder, who scored 12 goals in Serie A this year will be a key part of the Serbian trip to Russia. It will be a hot summer for the 23-year-old from Lazio with the World Cup finals and a probable auction that will follow his performances at the tournament.
THE COACH - Mladen Kristajic
Mladen Kristajic was appointed at the end of the qualifying tournament after the federation had relieved Slavoljub Muslin of his role due to the lack of call for young players like Milinkovic-Savic. Kristajic, a former central defender, composed together with Vidic, Dragutinovic and Gavrancic the defence of the famous four who conceded only one goal in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers. Initially hired as a caretaker, he will be there at least until the conclusion of Russia 2018.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
After eight years Serbia returns to dispute a final round of a World Cup. In 2014 it was not included among the participants, while in 2010 the selection of Antic failed to overcome the obstacle of a group with Germany, Ghana and Australia; with defeat against the Socceroos on the last day proving to be fatal. In the following four years, Sinisa Mihajlovic failed to take Serbia to the World Cup, finishing third behind Italy and Belgium.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
Talent, class, inspiration: characteristics that have always been inherent in Serbian DNA, characteristics that could compensate for the organisation and experience gap with Switzerland.
- Serbia v Costa Rica: June 17, 1pm
- Serbia v Switzerland: June 22, 7pm
- Serbia v Brazil: June 27, 7pm