WORLD CUP: Haunted by inconsistency, Serbia gambles on youth

first_imgLATEST STORIES MOST READ A former national team defender and Bundesliga veteran, Mladen Krstajic is closely aligned with the federation’s wishes for the faster integration of the players who won the Under-20 World Cup in 2015.He was first brought in as a caretaker after Muslin’s dismissal, despite having never held a previous coaching position. But he has yet to calm the national anxiety after delivering highs and lows on the road to Russia. The latest setback was a 1-0 loss to Chile in a friendly.Unapologetic, Krstajic said the results of friendly matches were meaningless because they were only about preparation.“You would expect experienced players to have better form, but younger players have more potential — that’s a fact. We have both,” he said. “Testing younger players in the game (against Chile) was a conscious decision, to see how they would combine with the players who got us qualification.”GOALKEEPERSADVERTISEMENT Serbia’s talent in midfield also includes attack-minded Luka Milivojevic, a regular scorer at Crystal Palace.FORWARDSKrstajic likes to field a 4-2-3-1 formation to exploit the goal-scoring talents of his midfield.Aleksandar Mitrovic remains the preferred lone striker and he produced six goals in qualification. While his finishes often look unspectacular, the 23-year-old forward who plays at Fulham on loan has perfected close-range finishes.Krstajic added some young forwards to his roster, including 20-year-old Benfica player Luka Jovic, who is on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt.Fire-power may also come from Aleksandar Prijovic, the top scorer in the Greek league at PAOK Thessaloniki and hero at home for producing the winning goal against Georgia that sent Serbia through.GROUP GAMESSerbia will open against Costa Rica on Sunday in Samara. The team will then face Switzerland in Kaliningrad on June 22 before traveling to Moscow to face Brazil on June 27.SQUADGoalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Partizan), Marko Dmitrovic (SD Eibar), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel Aviv) FILE – In this Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 filer, Serbian players pose for a team photo prior to the World Cup Group D qualifying soccer match between Serbia and Georgia at the Rajko Mitic stadium in Belgrade, Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)With a mandate to integrate the country’s promising young players into the squad, Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic was hired after the national team had already qualified for the World Cup.He has abandoned some of the caution shown by predecessor Slavoljub Muslin, whose conservative selections helped Serbia win its European qualifying group after failing to reach the 2014 tournament.ADVERTISEMENT DepEd’s Taal challenge: 30K students displaced Jury of 7 men, 5 women selected for Weinstein rape trial Dave Chappelle donates P1 million to Taal relief operations Winfrey details her decision to withdraw from Simmons film China population now over 1.4 billion as birthrate falls Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award The towering Vladimir Stojkovic was first choice during the qualification campaign, which exposed the team’s irregular form.The Serbs conceded 10 goals in as many matches. The 34-year-old Stojkovic has bounced around half-a-dozen European leagues, making the rare switch from Red Star Belgrade to city rival Partizan.Predrag Rajkovic, a 22-year-old former national youth team standout, made his senior debut at 18 and has put in another six appearances.DEFENSEBranislav Ivanovic has long been a defensive rock, playing more than 100 times for his country while winning trophies with Chelsea.The center back seemed a natural choice to remain captain when Krstajic took over. Instead, he picked Roma left back Aleksandar Kolarov, a seven-year Manchester City veteran admired by English fans for his reliable form and viral online Christmas videos.MIDFIELDERSMuslin’s departure was blamed largely on his reluctance to use Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, the tall, fast and versatile Lazio central midfielder.It was little surprise that the 23-year-old Milinkovic-Savic, called “the sergeant” in Italy for his commanding style, was included.The country’s second highly bankable star is another midfielder, Nemanja Matic, who has so impressed Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho that he’s a potential captain for next season. Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours The late shift in philosophy, however, has raised fears that Serbia’s consistent results could unravel.One of seven national teams created after the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia has never made it past the group stage at a World Cup.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownHere’s a closer look at the Serbia team:COACH Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Defenders: Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal), Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma), Milan Rodic (Red Star Belgrade), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St. Petersburg), Uros Spajic (Anderlecht), Dusko Tosic (Guangzhou), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina)Midfielders: Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Marko Grujic (Liverpool), Adem Ljajic (Torino), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Filip Kostic (Hamburg), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica), Nemanja Radonjic (Red Star Belgrade)Forwards: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle), Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK Thessaloniki), Luka Jovic (Benfica)Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next View comments Gilas last Filoil game leaves Uichico disappointed: ‘We didn’t play hard enough’last_img

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