Serbia World Cup 2022 guide: Key players, injuries, tactics & tournament prediction

Aleksandar Mitrovic is Serbia's talisman
Aleksandar Mitrovic is Serbia's talisman / Briony Painter | 90min

Serbia have a pretty forgettable World Cup record, especially in the 21st century. In the three tournaments they've qualified for since 2002, the Eagles have failed to make it out of the group stage in each.

A talented Serbia squad disappointed in Russia last time out, and they have their work cut out if they're to progress into the knockout phase this time around considering the difficulty of Group G.

Here's what to expect from Serbia at the World Cup.

When are Serbia's group games?

  • Brazil vs Serbia (November 24, 19:00 GMT)
  • Cameroon vs Serbia (November 28, 10:00 GMT)
  • Serbia vs Switzerland (December 2, 19:00 GMT)
  • Serbia vs Brazil H2H record: Played 2, Lost 2
  • Serbia vs Cameroon H2H record: Played 1, Won 1
  • Serbia vs Switzerland H2H record: Played 1, Lost 1

Who is in Serbia's confirmed 26-player squad for the World Cup?

Goalkeepers: Marko Dmitrovic (Sevilla), Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (Torino), Predrag Rajković (Mallorca)

Defenders: Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina), Stefan Mitrovic (Getafe), Strahinja Pavlovic (Salzburg), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen), Filip Mladenovic (Legia Warsaw), Srdan Babic (Almeria), Strahinja Erakovic (Red Star Belgrade)

Midfielders: Dusan Tadic (Ajax), Nemanja Gudelj (Sevilla), Filip Kostic (Juventus), Nemanja Maksimovic (Getafe), Filip Duricic (Sampdoria), Nemanja Radonjic (Torino), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Sasa Lukic (Torino), Andrija Zivkovic (PAOK), Uros Racic (Braga), Ivan Ilic (Hellas Verona), Darko Lazovic (Hellas Verona)

Forwards: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham), Luka Jovic (Fiorentina), Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus)

Which Serbia players are missing the World Cup through injury?

Star strikers Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic both picked up injuries in October but the pair have still been included in Dragan Stojkovic's 26-man squad.

Mitrovic has been battling an ankle injury since late September and he missed Fulham's last two matches as a result. Vlahovic, meanwhile, has been sidelined since the end of October and has subsequently missed five Bianconeri fixtures ahead of the World Cup.

Who are Serbia's best players?

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will lead the Serbia midfield in Qatar / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

The Lazio talisman hasn't been in the best of form as of late and being forced to play in a midfield two may inhibit his unique attacking gift. Nevertheless, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is a player that opposing teams will have to game plan for.

Filip Kostic

The dynamic wing-back plays a key role in Stojkovic's three-at-the-back system. Filip Kostic is loving life in Turin after joining Juventus in the summer and is heading into the tournament in a rich vein of form. Both Mitrovic and Vlahovic will be looking to benefit from his fierce crossing delivery.

Dusan Tadic

Dusan Tadic is the creative hub on this Serbia side and he should operate off the front two in a free-roaming #10 function. The Ajax star will skipper his nation at the tournament and will continue to chip away at Branislav Ivanovic's all-time record of 105 caps (Tadic currently has 90).

Aleksandar Mitrovic

As already alluded to, Mitrovic's participation is in doubt because of injury - but there's no doubting his importance when it comes to goals.

The 28-year-old has bagged 50 goals in 76 internationals for Serbia, 15 of which have come in qualification games for the World Cup and one at the tournament itself - against Switzerland in a 2-1 defeat back in 2018.

Serbia predicted starting lineup

Serbia are expected to line up in a 3-4-1-2 at the World Cup with Tadic operating off injured front two Mitrovic and Vlahovic. Width will be provided by wing-backs Andrija Zivkovic and Kostic, while Ivan Ilic will attempt to bring stability in midfield alongside the forward-thinking Milinkovic-Savic.

Serbia predicted XI: Milinkovic-Savic; Veljkovic, Milenkovic, Pavlovic; Zivkovic, Milinkovic-Savic, Ilic, Kostic; Tadic; Mitrovic, Vlahovic.

Serbia's form going into the World Cup

Serbia topped Portugal in their qualifying group to automatically progress into the World Cup and they head into the tournament having won their Nations League group in 2022.

After tasting defeat to Norway on Matchday 1, Serbia won four of their next five games to win B4 and earn promotion up to League A.

Serbia's last five results (all competitions)

Norway 0-2 Serbia Serbia 4-1 Sweden Slovenia 2-2 Serbia Sweden 0-1 Serbia Serbia 4-1 Slovenia

Where will Serbia finish in the World Cup?

Serbia head into the tournament in fine form and their starting XI is pretty strong. Well-balanced and talented going forward, some might even fancy Stojkovic's side to enjoy a deep run in Qatar.

However, there are a few concerns. Firstly, Serbia have been paired alongside pre-tournament favourites Brazil, reliable Switzerland, and a physical Cameroon side in Group G. It'll be a very tricky group for the Serbians to get out of.

Moreover, their lack of squad depth is a concern and it could come back to bite them in crunch time, while their pitiful record at the World Cup can't be ignored. Serbia have underwhelmed at previous tournaments, and the same could happen in Qatar.

Prediction: Group stage exit