For Serbia, the target in Qatar is clear: reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time.
While Serbian players have reached the semi-finals on two occasions previously as part of the former Yugoslavia, as an independent nation they failed to get out of the group stage in 2006, 2010, and 2018.
While Vlahovic has more top-flight experience, Mitrovic is the nation’s all-time top goalscorer who tends to deliver when it matters most.
Vlahovic and Mitrovic aren’t Serbia’s only weapons, though. The side’s midfield general, Sergej Milikovic-Savic is a playmaker of real quality. The-27-year-old Lazio player is arguably entering his peak years as a footballer, and simply put, he probably won’t get a better opportunity to showcase his immense talent on the biggest stage.
Serbia’s journey to the 2022 World Cup has been fascinating to say the least. After failing to qualify for the 2020 European Championships, Dragan Stojkovic’s side topped their World Cup qualifying group, edging out Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in the process. In fact, it was a 2-1 win in Lisbon on the final match day that sealed their place in Qatar and rounded out an unbeaten campaign.
Since then, Serbia have lost to Denmark and Norway, but June’s Nations League matches did produce a pair of victories over Sweden and Slovenia, the latter they won 4-1. While Brazil are expected to top Group G, Serbia will fancy their chances of beating Switzerland and Cameroon to second spot.
To do so, they will have to avenge their 2018 World Cup defeat to the Swiss, which cost them a place in the Round of 16. With star quality throughout the team, Serbia look like a very different proposition this time around.
Manager: Dragan Stojkovic
Star player: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
One to Watch: Dusan Vlahovic
World Cups appeared in: [As Serbia] 2010, 2018 [as Serbia and Montenegro] 2006
Fixtures: Nov 24 - Brazil v Serbia / Nov 28 - Cameroon v Serbia / Dec 2 - Serbia v Switzerland