Serbia vs Brazil – Wednesday, June 27, 19:00BST/20:00CEST/21:00 MSK – Spartak Stadium, Moscow, Russia
Serbia had a fantastic start to the tournament beating Costa Rica 1-0 thanks to a wonderful Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick on matchday 1 against Costa Rica. That result appeared to be underlined with another strong performance against Switzerland on matchday 2 until Xherdan Shaqiri scored the game-winner for Switzerland.
To add to the problems, Serbia also faces an investigation against head coach Mladen Krstajić. Krstajić heavily criticised referee Felix Brych following Serbia’s defeat against the Nati. “I would send him to Den Haag. They should put him on trial as they put us on trial”, Krstajić said after the match drawing parallels to the Balkan wars and the court cases against Serbian war criminals.
FIFA have now started an investigation, and it is possible that Krstajić could be banned for the final group stage match against Brazil. That ban could be equal to the end of the World Cup for the Serbian head coach. “I know we have the quality as a team. We have to be concentrated and try to make the impossible possible [against Brazil],” Krstajić added.
That mission impossible might be more possible than many observers have suggested. Much like other favourites, Brazil have struggled at the World Cup. Against Costa Rica the Seleção were dominant but at the same time lacked the creativity at times to unscrew a tight Los Ticos defence.
Furthermore, Brazil appeared to be vulnerable when hit on the counter-attack. Both on the right and the left, Fagner and Marcelo left acres of space in which Costa Rica could cut into, and a better-attacking side would have likely punished Brazil that evening in St. Petersburg.
It is the sort of space that could be exploited by a side like Serbia. Despite the defeat to Switzerland the Orlovi are a talented side. Furthermore, the. likes of left-back Aleksandar Kolarov, and wingers Dusan Tadić, as well as Filip Kostić, have the speed to get past a high sitting Brazil defence. Finally, with Aleksandar Mitrović Serbia have a forward, who will not waste any of his chances. Hence, Brazil are beatable, and Serbia may have just enough to upset the apple-cart and collect the three points the Orlovi need to advance from Group E.
Serbia vs Brazil – Players to look out for:
Aleksandar Mitrović #9 – Serbia (Fulham on loan from Newcastle United)
Aleksandar Mitrović could have been the man of the match against Switzerland. The forward scored the opening goal for his country and was excellent throughout the match. Playing for Fulham in the Championship Mitrović managed to score 12 goals in 17 games for the London based side – being a major factor in Fulham’s return to the Premier League.
Philippe Coutinho #11 – Brazil (Barcelona)
Neymar sunk to his knees at the end of the match. In tears, the pressure and criticism from back home is getting to the PSG forward despite scoring Brazil’s second goal of the evening. The fragile state of Brazil’s moral is always the biggest danger of the Seleção ahead of every World Cup and Neymar’s current state should be worrisome. Thankfully, for Brazil, they also got Philippe Coutinho, who has been excellent for his country at this tournament. Ultimately, it was his goal that made the difference on matchday 2 against Costa Rica. “He is very important for us,” Tite said after the match against Costa Rica. “I don’t want to hide my skills,” Coutinho added and with two goals from the first two matches, that statement seems to be a bit of an understatement.
Serbia vs Brazil – Match Stats
- Serbia, as part of Yugoslavia, have faced Brazil on four previous occasions at a World Cup. The record is even with both teams winning one match and drawing twice.
- Yugoslavia’s 2-1 victory over Brazil in 1930 was also the first ever World Cup match for either side.
- Altogether, Serbia, or Yugoslavia, have only won two of 19 matches against Brazil (D7 L10).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Serbia vs Brazil – 1-0
Serbia vs Brazil – Lineups
Stojković – Ivanović, Milenković, Tosić, Kolarov – Matić, Milivojević – Tadić, Milinković-Savić, Kostić – Mitrović
Head Coach: Mladen Krstajić
Alisson – Marcelo, Miranda, Thiago Silva, Fagner – Coutinho, Casemiro, Paulinho – Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Willian
Head Coach: Tite
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.