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Serbia World Cup squad: Krstajic announces his 23-man group for Russia

Serbia were comfortable in qualification and one of their star players Aleksandar Kolarov was excellent in crucial moments

Fifa World Cup 2018  |  Europe  |  Germany

IANS  |  Belgrade 

Fifa World Cup 2018: Serbia to head to Russia with realistic expectations

Serbia, ranked 35th in the world rankings, are a quite young team, given that they have only played as an independent nation since 2006 following the dissolution of Serbia and Montenegro.

However, with their previous record as part of Serbia and Montenegro or even prior to that, Yugoslavia, Serbian football has been a key part of the World Cup. The team have been to the World Cup 11 times, and twice finished in fourth place, reports Xinhua news agency.

Serbia's last appearance was back in 2010 in For Serbia though, the journey ended in frustration after the group stage. However they did manage to beat in their opening match.

Serbia were comfortable in qualification and one of their star players Aleksandar Kolarov was excellent in crucial moments.

Serbia will face Brazil, and in their group. Getting out of the group won't be impossible, but Serbia will have to be very pragmatic about their chances. Taking over the team after his predecessor's resignation, 44-year-old coach Mladen Krstajic found it difficult initially.

In four international friendlies, the team collected two wins, one loss and one draw. They defeated both and 2-0, lost to 1-2 and tied 1-1 with

In the defeat to Morocco, Krstajic experimented with a 4-3-3 formation, which turned out to be unsuccessful. He then reverted to the familiar 4-2-3-1 in the next match, and won 2-0.

Most of the Serbian national team's players are currently playing in major European leagues, including their 29-year-old star Nemanja Matic, who is indispensable in the Manchester United midfield.

Southampton's midfielder Tusan Tadic, has 51 caps and 13 goals for Serbia, and contributes a lot at the offensive end.

Apart from him, rising star Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is currently at Fulham on loan from Newcastle United, appears to be irreplaceable for his national team. With 35 caps, the 23-year-old has scored 13 goals, making him the most efficient scorer for Serbia.

Branislav Ivanovic and Aleksandar Kolarov serve as the team's previous and new captains. The 34-year-old former Chelsea right-back and the former Manchester City left-sided defender, are both competent in different positions in the defence.

These are the 23 players who will be going to Russia:

Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Partizan Belgrade), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar).

Defenders: Aleksandar Kolarov (AS Roma), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St. Petersburg), Dusko Tosic (Guangzhou R&F), Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen), Milan Rodic (Red Star Belgrade), Uros Spajic (Krasnodar), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina).

Midfielders: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Marko Grujic (Liverpool), Adem Ljajic (Torino), Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Filip Kostic (Hamburg SV), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica), Nemanja Radonjic (Red Star Belgrade).

Strikers: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United), Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK Salonika), Luka Jovic (Benfica).


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First Published: Tue, June 05 2018. 20:31 IST