World Cup 2018 factbox: Serbia

World Cup 2018 factbox: Serbia

Facts on Serbia who play in World Cup Group E:

Serbia’s Nemanja Matic tackles Iwobi

Country: Serbia

Honours: Gold medal at the 1960 Olympics

Past World Cup performance: 12th participation, including nine as Yugoslavia, one as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (composed of Serbia and Montenegro) in 1998 and one as Serbia and Montenegro in 2006. Participation under the flag of Serbia in 2010

Best result: Fourth in 1930 and 1962

FIFA world ranking: 35

Main clubs: Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade

Nickname: “Orlovi” (“The Eagles”)

How they qualified: Finished top of UEFA qualifying group D

Friendly matches scheduled before the World Cup:

June 4 v Chile (Gratz), June 9 v Bolivia (Gratz)

27-man provisional World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (FK Partizan Belgrade), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel Aviv/ISR), Aleksandar Jovanovic (AGF/DEN), Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar/ESP)

Defenders: Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma/ITA), Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal/ESP), Milan Rodic (Red Star Belgrade), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit Saint Petersburg/RUS), Uros Spajic (Anderlecht/BEL), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen/GER), Dusko Tosic (Besiktas/TUR), Matija Nastasic (Schalke 04/GER), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina/ITA)

Midfielders: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United/ENG), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace/ENG), Marko Grujic (Cardiff City/WAL), Nemanja Maksimovic (Valencia/ESP), Dusan Tadic (Southampton/ENG), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica/POR), Mijat Gacinovic (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Filip Kostic (Hamburg/GER), Nemanja Radonjic (Red Star Belgrade), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio/ITA), Adem Ljajic (Torino/ITA)

Forwards: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham/ENG), Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK Thessaloniki/GRE), Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER)

Coach: Mladen Krstajic

The former central defender was appointed in October 2017 to replace Slavoljub Muslin, making his debut as an international coach. Muslin was the first coach of a country qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia to lose his job. According to local media reports he paid the price for failing to bring in new players, including Sergej Milinkovi-Savic, a rising star for Lazio in Italy’s Serie A.

Krstajic was Muslin’s deputy and said he intended to carry on where the former coach left off, while “adding a few ideas of my own” and “creating a mix of youth and experience.”

Born in Zenica, Krsajic began his playing career at local club Celik, rising to become a Serbian international and playing in Germany for Werder Bremen (2000-2004) and Schalke 04 (2004-2009).

After losing 2-1 to Morocco in a friendly in March, the debutant coach was harshly criticised but the attacks eased following a 2-0 win against Nigeria four days later, leading him to say that the squad were “on the right track” ahead of their first World Cup tie in against Costa Rica on June 17.

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