Aleksandar Mitrovic-less Serbia to struggle
Brazil begin their Group G action by taking on Serbia in Thursday evening’s encounter.
The Selecao are the favourites to win the World Cup yet again but seem to be in a good position to justify that tag, with a nice blend of youth and experience in the squad.
Serbia were very impressive in qualifying for the tournament, topping a five-team group involving Portugal and they certainly have the individual talent to cause problems against a strong Brazilian backline.
They will however not be able to call on Aleksandar Mitrovic in the opener due to an injury, with the Fulham striker expected to return in the not too distant future.
In Luka Jovic and Dusan Vlahovic there are reasons for optimism in replacing Mitrovic, with Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic also capable of unlocking defences in the competition.
Defensively, they are not as strong as the years when they had Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Vidic and Aleksandr Kolarov in the backline, with Nemanja Matic sweeping up in front, and that could be their downfall in this match.
Group G could possibly be building towards matchday three, with the chance that both Serbia and Switzerland lose to Brazil but beat Cameroon, to set up an exciting knockout style encounter.
Tite’s team selection will be very interesting to monitor given the number of different variations he can field in the final third, all of which will be intimidating prospects for Serbia.
Saudi Arabia’s surprise victory over Argentina on Tuesday will have provided inspiration for outsiders in the tournament, and Serbia are set up better to take the game to Brazil, rather than to sit back and allow them to dictate play.
Potentially an angle in, although Brazil’s defensive numbers have been very strong of late, suggesting that without Mitrovic this could be a tough ask in the opening match for the Eagles.
Brazil have scored in nine of ten.
Brazil have conceded in three of ten.
Brazil have seen both teams score in three of ten.
Brazil have seen over 2.5 goals in six of ten.
Serbia have scored in eight of ten.
Serbia have conceded in seven of ten.
Serbia have seen both teams score in five of ten.
Serbia have seen over 2.5 goals in six of ten.