Serbia – Group E – Overview and Serbia betting tips
Serbia come to the 2018 World Cup after missing the three previous major football tournaments. Despite not having been in the World Cup since 2010, Serbia somehow managed to top their qualifying group, and their experienced side looks like they could cause problems for any team in Russia this summer.
Although Serbia have plenty of strength and character, recent managerial changes have meant that there’s still many questions over how well this side will do in Group E. So read our detailed guide to Serbia to see whether they can reach the knock-out rounds at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Serbia prediction: How well will they do?
Serbia are quite rightly one of the dark horses of the 2018 World Cup. Their impressive run in qualifying revealed a team that’s packed with quality and experience, and we expect that they could well in Group E opposite teams such as Brazil, Costa Rica and Switzerland.
Serbia’s opening match takes place in Samara on 17 June where they will face the Central American side, Costa Rica. Most punters will remember how Costa Rica narrowly missed out on a 2014 World Cup semi-final appearance after losing on penalties to Holland, and the team are still a force to be reckoned with. Whilst the Costa Rican management has changed, the side have strong forwards like Bryan Ruiz who might be able to take advantage of Serbia’s often problematic defence.
If Serbia manage to withstand the assault from Costa Rica, then they should be in a good place for their next game against Switzerland. This match takes place in Kaliningrad on 22 June, and it’s clear that Serbia must win this game if they hope to reach the knock-out rounds. Whilst Switzerland have a great team spirit, they are lacking a quality goalscorer and we’d hope that Serbian stars like Dusan Tadic can exploit any weaknesses in the Swiss side.
Serbia’s final match is against Brazil in Moscow on 27 June. It would take a very brave bet to back Serbia to win against the South American team, as Brazil have rediscovered their form and are many bookies’ favourites to win the 2018 World Cup. If Serbia can use their experience to get past the Brazilian full-backs, Dani Alves and Marcelo, there’s a chance that they could cause a memorable upset.
At the time of writing, Serbia are only placed 35th in the FIFA World Cup rankings, so it could be a fun idea to take a low stakes bet on Betbright’s 125/1 odds for Serbia shocking the world to win the 2018 World Cup.
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Journey to the World Cup — Who did Serbia beat to qualify?
With just one defeat in 10 qualifiers, Serbia managed to book their trip to Russia in emphatic fashion. Whilst strong teams like Wales and Republic of Ireland managed to hold Serbia to draws, there was enough strength and experience in the Serbian side for them to comfortably top the European Group D.
It wasn’t just emphatic victories such as their wins over Moldova, Austria and Georgia that signalled that Serbia are set for a footballing renaissance. This is because the team managed to score an impressive twenty goals during qualifying, with six coming from Fulham star, Aleksandar Mitrović.
Serbia’s recent record in international friendlies has also been very respectable. Despite a close 1-2 loss to Morocco, they managed to get two 0-2 away wins against Nigeria and China. And with two further friendlies against Chile and Bolivia to look forward to, there are many Serbian football fans who will be expecting to seeing a rejuvenated team in action in Russia.
Best players for Serbia: Who should you be betting on?
There are many commentators who have suggested that Serbia’s ageing team might be lacking in pace in comparison to some of their younger rivals. Despite this, there is enough talent in all areas of the Serbia side to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.
Picking a star player is difficult, but we have to highlight how the towering midfielder, Nemanja Matic, has managed to gain the accolade of being one of the toughest players to play against in the Premier League and he’s expected to be a key player for Serbia this summer.
Other stars to look out for include the hugely promising Lazio midfielder, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who has recently been reinstated to the Serbia team. And if you were wishing to back a Serbia forward to win the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup, then keep an eye on Aleksandar Mitrović who is 150/1 to be the top goalscorer at Betfair.
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Who manages Serbia?
Most national football organisations would reward their team coach for having gotten their side through the World Cup qualifiers. However, this wasn’t the case with Serbia as the Serbian Football Association gave head coach, Slavoljub Muslin, the boot despite winning their qualifying group. It’s thought that Muslin’s inexplicable decision to keep Sergej Milinkovic-Savic out of the side might have led to his sacking. But whatever the reasons, it opened up the door to Mladen Krstajic taking over as caretaker manager.
Since Krstajic came to the team, he’s managed to continue Serbia’s strong run of form. There are many fans who will be glad to see that the manager has successfully reinstated Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who immediately responded with a string of excellent performances. And whilst many people state that Krstajic lacks the top-level experience to guide Serbia to glory, it’s clear that his experienced team will give him plenty of support.
Why bet on Serbia?
It’s clear that Serbia are unlikely to be amongst the bookie’s favourites to reach the final stages of the 2018 World Cup. Despite this, Serbia have a star-studded team, and their dedicated army of fans will be sure to give the side lots of vocal support during their Group E qualifiers.
Most Serbia supporters will be keen for the side to reach the final sixteen, and although this might be a long shot, it’s worth remembering that the Serbian side is packed full of quality players like Nemanja Matic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic, as well as their reliable goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
Whilst Serbia have yet to match the record that was enjoyed by Yugoslavia in the 1990 World Cup, it’s clear that Serbia is perhaps at its strongest since the break up of the country. However, recent friendlies have shown us that the caretaker coach, Mladen Krstajic, is still toying with his formula and as such, it’s difficult to see how they will approach their group matches.
Serbia have had an unfortunate tendency to crumble against major international teams like Brazil, but we are hoping that they can seize the initiative and use their formidable experience in their opening matches against Costa Rica and Switzerland.
As such it’s not surprising to see how bookmakers like Toals have given Serbia 15/2 odds to win Group E, and if you’re feeling especially lucky then you could try the bookie’s odds of 150/1 for Serbia to win the 2018 World Cup overall.
Best Odds Available at Toals