No Repeat Of Last Week’s Blip If Serbia Are To Progress

16 06 2010

So far in the 2010 FIFA World Cup a high proportion of the games have been defensive and tedious encounters. However, last Sunday the Germans 4-0 victory over the 10-men of Australia caught the eye of football fans, and they are now being tipped as likely winners. On Friday they face a Serbian team who will need to show the right response if they are to progress from Group D. A poor display against Ghana saw the White Eagles lose their opening game 1-0, which has brought back horror memories to their fans of four years ago. At least a point is needed if they are to have a realistic chance of reaching the knockout round, and they will need to raise their game to achieve this feat.

Firstly, the confidence needs to be reinstated in the players, and the person responsible for doing this will be Radomir Antic. With five days of preparation, the highly respected coach has a tough job on his hands if he is to prevent the Germans from running rampant. After last weekend’s game, he did what he could to quickly encourage his players to forget about their opening match and look ahead. “Of course this is a big blow for us, it’s bad to start the World Cup with a defeat. But we have two more games and we must put this behind us and look forward to playing Germany and Australia.”

Serbia's Likely Starting 11 in South Africa

Perhaps the biggest concern is that the Serbian team lacked spark throughout the match, despite seeing a good amount of the ball. None of the players finished the clash with Ghana with their reputation fully intact, and, worryingly, they will most likely have even less possession against Germany. A change of tactics could be adopted – for example, a holding player like Gojko Kačar could be deployed to counter the impact of German playmaker Mesut Özil. Antic more-or-less confirmed that some changes will be implemented if they are to have any success: “It’s difficult to say, we started with a defeat so now we must prepare in a different way when it comes to playing Germany. We were far too nervous and we have to change our approach for the next two matches because we have to put some points on the board.”

It is likely that complacency played its part in Serbia’s opening match – after all, they were playing a team they were widely expected to beat. Milan Jovanovic admitted that they will approach the game in Port Elizabeth with a different mindset: “Defeat has influenced our mood”, said the 29-year-old Standard Liege forward. “We had expected to win the match against Ghana and we are all hurt by that failure. We missed out on our aim against an inferior rival and now we are in a position where we have to get as many points as possible against better teams than us.”

Meanwhile, Captain Dejan Stankovic has come out and spoken about his role in the team. The central midfielder has the ability to influence the play in all areas of the pitch, but seems to be limited in Antic’s system: “In this system that we are using I am forced to defend as we have too much good talent going forward. So I am forced to be more defensive in this team.” Whether this was a sly dig at the coach on Stankovic knows, but after his anonymous performance against the African side, he clearly needs to impose himself more in the next match.

The Adidas Jabulani ball has been the butt of much criticism, with people claiming that it resembles a beach ball, and many players repeatedly finding their shots arcing high into the stands. The latest player to voice his disgust is Nemanja Vidic, who joined his teammate Vladimir Stojkovic in slating the Jabulani: “People have expressed their opinion [on the ball], but for me I would say that the ball is very difficult for the forwards and the defenders. But what can I say is that it was the same for everyone.”

Some might feel that the clash against the Germans has come at the worst possible time, with Joachim Löw’s men buoyed by their opening performance. But there is a chance that this could work in Serbia’s favour. If overconfidence does come into play, and the Germans do allow Serbia opportunities to take something from the game, then the White Eagles need to demonstrate a level of guile and discipline that was altogether missing last Sunday.

As seen on – A Different League

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