World Cup 2022 team preview: Dark horses Serbia can cause a stir in Qatar

With two deadly strikers leading the line, Serbis could be real dark horses in Qatar

Aleksandar Mitrovic

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The ‘White Eagles’ of Serbia have struggled at almost every major competition since the breakup of Yugoslavia. Their last great generation was in the 1990s but due to international sanctions imposed they only attended the 1998 World Cup in France reaching the Round of 16 and the quarter-finals at Euro 2000.

Everything since has been underwhelming. The 2006, 2010 and 2018 World Cups saw them fail to pass the Group Stage on each occasion. Now, though, Serbia seem to have rallied a serious team with the potential for producing an upset. Led by in-form Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic there is huge optimism in the Serbian camp – and rightfully so.

Our footy trader Matko Janković assesses their chances at the World Cup 2022.

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Serbia World Cup 2022 qualifying record

Serbia qualified as top dogs in Group A against Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan. They majestically beat Portugal away in the last game – in which they dominated throughout – thanks to a 90th minute goal from Mitrovic to secure top position in group, finishing three points ahead of their opponents.

Who is the Serbia manager?

Dragan Stojkovic or ‘Piksi’ is a Serbian football legend. He allegedly gave up on around €2m from Chinese side Guangzhou when mutually terminating his contract there just to take over Serbia on his birthday on March 3 2021.

He swiftly showed a firm hand by cutting out some toxic players and introducing young talent that may otherwise have not got a chance. Aleksandar Kolarov and Nemanja Matic were first to go and Serbia immediately started to appear healthier and play better. Piksi is all about playing total, attacking football and isn’t interested in keeping it tight to get a result. He’s all in.

Dragan Stojkovic, Serbia manager

Serbia World Cup squad

Stojkovic loves to make use of the 3-5-2. Vanja Milinkovic-Savic of Torino is in goal. The defensive trio will be made up of highly-rated 21-year-old Strahinja Pavlovic from RB Salzburg who is touted as one of the best young defenders around, Nikola Milenkovic from Fiorentina and Milos Veljkovic from Werder Bremen.

Midfield will be held together by the more famous Sergej Milinkovic-Savic of Lazio. Once a target for many top clubs in Europe, he is still dominating in Serie A and a huge presence in the centre of the park. He is paired by the legendary Dusan Tadic of Ajax and the ever-solid Nemanja Gudelj of Sevilla. 

Left wing will be occupied by Juventus’ summer signing from Eintracht, Filip Kostic, who many consider to be the best player in this team right now, while former wonderkid Andrija Zivković from PAOK will be on the right. Attack is spearheaded by Fulham’s Mitrovic and Juve’s Vlahovic, who is arguably one of the best strikers in the world at this very moment.

    • Goalkeepers: Marko Dmitrovic Predrag Rajkovic, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic
    • Defenders: Stefan Mitrovic, Nikola Milenkovic, Strahinja Pavlovic, Milos Veljkovic, Filip Mladenovic, Strahinja Erakovic, Srdjan Babic
    • Midfielders: Nemanja Gudelj, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Sasa Lukic, Marko Grujic, Filip Kostic, Uros Racic, Nemanja Maksimovic, Ivan Ilic, Andrija Zivkovic, Darko Lazovic
    • Forwards: Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlahovic, Filip Duricic, Luka Jovic, Nemanja Radonji

    Serbia Key Player

    At the moment it seems only one man’s name is on everyone’s lips. Aleksandar Mitrovic. The guy is on a rampage. Last season he broke the record for the most goals scored in a 46-game English league season, set by Guy Whittingham for Portsmouth in 1992-93 by scoring an incredible 43 goals in 44 appearances in the Championship. 31 from open play including 12 headers and six penalties.

    In the past year he has 14 goals in 13 caps for Serbia. He smashed three past Sweden at home and one away to Norway to confirm Serbia’s top spot in their Nations League Group recently. The man is simply on fire.

    Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia

    Serbia One to Watch 

    Though already somewhat of a superstar we need to keep in mind Dusan Vlahovic is only 22 and still developing as a player. He has the potential to be the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic and has a style and ability to score from any position and angle similar to the Sweden legend.

    Serbia World Cup Prospects

    This generation has every reason to be optimistic. There are some world-class players in this team but what is worth noting is the team finally has balance and that’s all down to Stojkovic becoming manager. The discipline and professionalism can be felt in this team – something that Serbia struggled with in the past.

    They absolutely dominated World Cup qualification and their Nations League group, finishing first in both. Some dead wood has been cast off and young guys who really want to prove a point were brought in. Some very smart moves were pulled and Serbia could now easily be ‘’The Dark Horse’ of this World Cup.

    Serbia World Cup betting tips

    Fulham’s Mitrovic to finish as Serbia’s top scorer has to be a sure thing. As good as Dusan Vlahovic is, Mitro is just banging them in and the man can’t be stopped, especially for Serbia. He is their all-time top goalscorer with 50 goals in 76 caps with a ratio of 0.66 per game. He is a leader, he is confident, always in the right spot and the right time and he’s also their penalty taker. SERBIA TOP TEAM GOALSCORER: ALEKSANDAR MITROVIC.

    Serbia World Cup Winner Odds

    125/1
    Serbia World Cup 2022 Winner

    Serbia World Cup 2022 Fixtures

    November 24, 7pm: Brazil v Serbia (BBC)

    November 28, 7pm: Cameroon v Serbia (ITV)

    December 2, 7pm: Serbia v Switzerland (ITV)

    CLICK BELOW FOR TEAM PREVIEWS ON SERBIA’S GROUP G RIVALS

    *All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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