Serbia star Nemanja Matic

FIFA World Cup preview: Serbia

A tricky assignment for Serbia at the FIFA World Cup - lumped into a tough pool including Brazil.

This will be just the second time Serbia has fronted the World Cup finals as an independent nation, after previously playing as Serbia and Montenegro.

The last time they made the finals Serbia bottomed out in a group including Germany, Ghana, and Australia.

There is plenty of talent in this roster and a new management structure, but Serbia is trying to cram a lot of preparation into a short period of time.

Getting past Costa Rica, Switzerland and Brazil is going to be hard yakka for the Serbs, but they have the squad to do it.

Regarded by many as a dark horse in Russia.

The draw for Serbia

Costa Rica, June 17

Switzerland, June 23

Brazil, June 28

The star player

Nemanja Matic is an interesting proposition. Despite Manchester United's woes under Jose Mourinho, Matic has actually developed quite well.

He is a defensive midfielder which is exactly what Serbia will need against attacking nations like Brazil. But he also has the ability to float up in attack and is hard to read and defend.

Matic's skills have largely been exclusive to Manchester United, this is his chance to show he can do it on the big stage for Serbia.

Mourinho joked that he hoped Serbia wouldn't go too deep because he wanted Matic to have a rest.
"I need Matic to go on a holiday, so I think Switzerland will finish second," he said.
"I’m sorry Nemanja, but you need a holiday."
Serbian fans will be hoping his jibe is not an omen.

What needs to go right

The first two matches are critical. Serbia is lucky in a way to have Brazil as their final match, so they should know where they stand before then.

Getting results against Costa Rica and Switzerland will be critical. Serbia will not want their progression to hinge on a win against Brazil.

That kind of pressure has brought plenty of teams unstuck in the past.

About the Author Josh Alston

Josh Alston is a hack with over 12 years industry experience, covering sport across all codes for newspapers and online agencies. Known to frequent grade matches because of their cheap tinnies. Eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters in sitting on the hill when the local cricket side was playing. Softball premiership winner, rugby league legend in Year 10 and no stranger to Doomben Racecourse.

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