2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Serbia
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is less than a month away from kicking off in Qatar. Over the next 32 days, I will be previewing each team that will be taking part in the world’s most-watched event. Check out all of the team previews that have been done so far. Up next is Serbia.
Behind one of the best goalscorers in the world, Serbia has won four of their last five matches. The “Оrlovi” or “The Eagles” caused a major shock in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. Needing a victory on the last day away to Portugal to win the group, Serbia left it as late as they could. They scored the match-winner in the 90th minute to qualify for the World Cup and send Portugal to the UEFA playoffs.
Now that they have qualified, it will be a tough time in a competitive Group G headlined by World Cup favorites Brazil. With their best rank in the FIFA men’s rankings in a while, the 21st-ranked team in the world will be looking to move into the top 20 after the 2022 World Cup.
World Cup Appearances
Serbia has officially appeared in 12 World Cups with the 2022 World Cup being their 13th. However, 10 of those appearances were when Serbia was part of Yugoslavia. Since gaining independence in 2006, Serbia has made two World Cups as their own nation with the 2006 team being called Serbia and Montenegro. The 2022 World Cup will be the second straight appearance for “The Eagles.”
Best Finish at a World Cup
In its history, Serbia has made it to two World Cup semifinals. Both semifinal appearances came as Yugoslavia. The first was in 1930 when Yugoslavia was thrashed 6-1 by the hosts Uruguay. Then in 1962, they fell 3-1 to Czechoslovakia in the semifinal before losing to Chile 1-0 in the third-place match.
Serbia is heading into the 2022 World Cup with a very uneven squad. Attacking wise they are a major threat to be reckoned with, in large part due to the lethal goalscoring ability of Aleksandar Mitrović. The Fulham striker scored a record-breaking 43 goals in the English Championship last season and has already scored nine goals in 12 Premier League matches for Fulham. For Serbia, Mitrović is the nation’s all-time leading scorer with 50 goals. He also scored the goal against Portugal to send “The Eagles” to the Qatar. Behind him in the midfield is the captain Dušan Tadić. Tadić has the second most goals on the current team while having the most caps for “The Eagles.”
As strong as the attack is for Serbia, the defense could be a liability. With only two players having more than 25 caps it is a very inexperienced back line for “The Eagles.” Those two players are Nikola Milenković (37 caps) and Stefan Mitrović (34).
Former Yugoslavia national team member Dragan Stojković became the manager of Serbia in 2021 ahead of UEFA qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. Since Stojković took charge, “The Eagles” has lost just three matches while winning 13. As a player, Stojković went to two World Cups and was considered one of the best players to have played for Yugoslavia.
Biggest Group Game – vs. Switzerland on Dec. 2
In a group with Brazil at the 2022 World Cup, it is going to be a battle for second place in Group G. As exciting as Cameroon can be to watch, the second spot will likely come down to Serbia or Switzerland. Fortunately for the viewers, the two European nations meet on the last day of action in Group G. “The Eagles” have a very similar team in terms of the level of play to Switzerland and could lead to a close gritty match.
The big difference between Serbia and Switzerland is that one of them has a very good finisher in Mitrović. I believe that thanks to a Mitrović goal, “The Eagles” will finish second in Group G and advance to the knockout stage. In the Round of 16, they would face the winner of Group H, which could be any of the four teams in that group. However, I think the competitiveness of Group H will benefit Serbia and I have them upsetting the group winner to move on to the quarterfinals. That is where I predict them to lose to Belgium and head home after a very successful 2022 FIFA World Cup journey.
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