World Cup 2018 | Qualifying Team Guide | Serbia

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For the second time as an independent nation, Serbia World Cup dreams are alive. Their last international success came when they qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They were knocked out during the group stages. Serbia failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil or either of the two European Championships in between the World Cups.

The Eagles (Orlovi in Serbian) are currently ranked 37th in the FIFA World Rankings. They were once ranked as high as 4th in the world. But this was during 1998 when the team represented the nations of Serbia and Montenegro.

As Yugoslavia, and as Serbia and Montenegro, they have competed at eleven World Cup Finals, and have reached the semi-finals twice. But, Since the dissolution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, neither nation has been able to achieve the same quality of football. But it seems like Serbia are back on the road to winning ways.

Fifa Ranking: 37
Tournament Best: 4th place (1930, 1962)
Serbia World Cup Appearances: 11

Serbia World Cup – Road to Russia 2018

The Serbian side faced off against the Republic of Ireland, Wales, Austria, Georgia, and Moldova in the World Cup qualifiers. They remained unbeaten at home throughout the campaign and won six of ten matches.

They racked up 21 points to top the group ahead of the Republic of Ireland. While Serbia advanced straight to the World Cup Finals, Ireland had to compete in the second round of qualification and were eventually knocked out by Denmark in a humiliating 5-1 defeat in Dublin.

The Eagles were convincing throughout most of the qualification, and managed two resounding 3-0 victories against Moldova. They coped with the quality offered by Ireland and by Wales, who both qualified and performed well at Euro 2016.

Serbia World Cup Team

South Korea’s Ki Sung-yueng, right, fights for the ball against Serbia’s Nemanja Maksimovic during their friendly soccer match in Ulsan, South Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (Kim In-chul/Yonhap via AP) @ Polfoto

Serbia World Cup Line Up

Before they travel to Russia, the Serbian football team has one obstacle to overcome. They will need to sort out and break-in their new management team. In October, despite guiding them through the World Cup qualifiers, Slavoljub Muslin was sacked as manager of the national team. One of his assistants—Mladen Krstajic—has stepped in as a caretaker. He brings experience of World Cups (having played for Serbia and Montenegro at the World Cup Finals in 2006) if not the experience of age.

The biggest problem that Serbia face at Russia 2018 is their opposition though. They will join Brazil, Switzerland, and Costa Rica in Group E. Each of these opponents will be challenging.

Though they are ranked ahead of Costa Rica in world rankings, the Central American side shouldn’t be underestimated. They came through a tough qualification process, and showed real ability to perform under pressure.

Switzerland will certainly be a challenge for Serbia. But the Swiss national side can be unpredictable when it comes to form. They failed to qualify for Euro 2012, and did not progress very far at the 2016 Euros. There is no denying their ability though. After all, they are ranked 8th in the world based on their results.

The biggest problem for Serbia is Brazil. Ranked second in the world, joint favourites with holders Germany, and with the likes of Neymar, Brazil seem on paper to be simply too strong for Serbia.

Serbia World Cup – Key Players

The outstanding player for Serbia is Branislav Ivanovic, who will be familiar as he played for Chelsea made more than 250 appearances for Chelsea between 2007 and his transfer in 2016. He now plays his club football with Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg.

The 33 year-old reached his 100th cap for his country during the World Cup qualifiers. He has captained the Serbian football team since 2012.

Although traditionally a left-back, Ivanovic has become more and more attacking in his style of play over his career. He will likely attempt to dominate the left wing in Russia, forcing his opposite number to focus on defence. He is skilled at using this technique to stifle potentially dangerous wingers.

The main threat up front for Serbia is Aleksandar Mitrović. He should also be familiar to English football fans having played for Newcastle since 2015.

Mitrović was a major force in the U-19 Serbian team that won the 2013 UEFA U-19 Championship, and has been a part of the senior side ever since. He brings some serious goal scoring ability.

He was the top scorer in Serbia’s World Cup qualifiers group with 6 goals to his name. Three of these were particularly important in keeping Serbia’s dreams alive. He scored two against Austria in a tight game that finished 3-2, and scored a crucial equaliser against Wales a month later.

The main issue for the Newcastle man is temperament. In his debut for Newcastle back in 2016 he was booked after only 22 seconds on the field. Less than a month later he was sent off for the first time in a magpies’ shirt. On April 2nd 2016 he became only the sixth player in Premier League history to score a goal, assist a goal, and receive a red card in one match. He is certainly one to watch.

Dušan Tadić is also worth keeping an eye on. Though he is not always a fixture of the Serbia football team, he has been a steady player for Southampton. More importantly for Serbia, he scored four goals during the World Cup Qualifiers. Two of those turned out to be match winners. We’re sure that they will hope such form continues at Russia 2018.

Serbia World Cup Betting Odds

The bookies consistently have Serbia’s chances of winning the tournament in the mid-tables. The best odds for winning outright are being offered by Sporting Bet Logo who are laying 150/1* against Serbia. This comes with a welcome offer of £50 worth of free bets for new customers who deposit and place a sports bet of at least £10.

Serbia are third favourite to win their group. They are behind Brazil and Switzerland, and Betway Icon are currently giving the best odds at 9/1*. Betway are also offering to match an opening bet from new customers up to £30.

Event Selection Best Odds Brand
2018 World Cup Serbia Win 150/1* Betway Icon
2018 World Cup Serbia Win 150/1* betvictor logo
2018 World Cup Serbia Win 150/1* william hill logo

*Odds at the time of writing. Subject to change.