With Serbia beating Costa Rica and Switzerland drawing their opener to Brazil, this clash between the two European sides could prove to be massively influential; a Swiss win leaves Serbia having to force a result against the group favourites to qualify, while a Serbian win all but confirms Switzerland leaving the tournament.
Serbia vs Switzerland Prediction and Preview
Switzerland’s 2014 World Cup was a broadly positive affair in that they won the games they were expected to win. Their exit to finalists Argentina wasn’t unexpected but it did take a certain gloss off a side convinced it has more to show on the international stage.
The squad was largely devoid of surprises; established stars Yann Sommer, Fabian Schar, Ricardo Rodriguez, Granit Xhaka join multiple World Cup veteran Valon Behrami, experienced veteran Stephane Lichsteiner and key player Xherdan Shaqiri as likely starts in their respective roles. More difficult to predict will be whether young centre back Manuel Akanji keeps some of the minutes he received in warm up games, and most crucially, whether misfiring forward Haris Seferovic is dropped in favour of other options, particularly Cameroon born starlet Breel Embolo. Crucially, forward Admir Mehmedi failed to recover from injury in time to make the squad.
Vladimir Petkovic’s shape of 4231 will mirror the preference of Serbia, but tactically, the execution will understandably feel different. Rodriguez and Lichsteiner (particularly the former) are both dangerous in support of attack and effective in defence. Behrami and Xhaka are a solid pairing in midfield, if a touch uncreative. It’s in the frontline that Petkovic’s choices become interesting; with Shaqiri being the only obvious choice, the other 3 options have been heavily rotated in warm up games. Steven Zuber and Blerim Dzemaili seem the most likely picks, but it remains to be seen if Petkovic will take a risk on using Breel Embolo, Josip Drmic or Mario Gavranovic ahead of Seferovic up front.
Even with Switzerland’s apparent advantage at fullback, Serbia’s midfield has a far better capacity to dominate the ball. They’ll likely be intent on scoring early to cause further pressure and anxiety in Swiss hearts, particularly given that enter the match with just 1 point on the board.
- Strong at halftime? Switzerland’s form in friendlies has been good, driven by scoring 4 of their 10 goals in the 15 minutes before the end of the first half.
|World Cup Base||Kaliningrad||Togliatti|
|Odds – Result||Win – 2.06||Draw – 2.04||Win – 1.57|
|2018 Form (most recent first)||WLWL||WDWW|
|2014 World Cup Finish||Did Not Qualify||Round of 16|
|Total Head to Head Record (includes friendlies)||No matches played between these sides|
Switzerland have some tremendous players, especially in defence, and the flair prospects of Shaqiri cannot be underestimated. But they face a far better balanced side in Serbia, who also have the advantage of not needing to travel for the second group game, given its staging in Kaliningrad. Serbia’s midfield will be well capable of taking the game way from an aged Behrami and an erratic Xhaka, and in that respect, this match could prove a bridge too far for the Swiss despite their solid performance against Brazil. A win for the Serbians beckons to make their last group encounter a playoff for top spot with the South Americans.
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* Please note – odds mentioned above are subject to change, so always check the latest published odds to be fully certain before betting.
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