It seemed like it would be a case of déjà vu for the Serbian supporters. Four years ago they entered the World Cup with hope, yet fell greatly once they reached the finals, and it looked as if they would once more fall at the group stage. After a dire performance against Ghana in their 1-0 defeat last Sunday; in what seemed a must win game if they were to progress, they needed to really lift themselves if they were to defeat a German side who looked very sharp in their comfortable 4-0 group opener. Serbia showed spirit, determination and regained the spark which they had during qualification, and also had a helping hand from the referee.
Radomir Antić admitted before the match that he would contemplate changes if his team were to gain anything from the next two games, and he was true to his word. He adopted a 4-3-3 formation knowing he needed to stifle the German midfield that had Mesut Özil playing in ‘the hole’, so Zdravko Kuzmanović was promoted into the starting line-up with a specific defensive job, although they were hoping he wouldn’t give away a foolish penalty again. Neven Subotić was given the role to play alongside Nemanja Vidić in the heart of defence, after his usual partner Aleksandar Luković was suspended after his red card last-week. The mentality of the team was to play defensive, slow the tempo of the game and to absorb the Germans who would attack in numbers, then to hit them on the counter-attack with the pace of Milan Jovanović and Miloš Krasić on the wings. After such a weak performance in the centre of midfield in the first game, Miloš Ninković was asked to play alongside his captain and the tactics that Radomir Antić adopted were perfect.