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[monks data]
Jun 2, 2022 at 7.45pm UK
Serbia
0 - 1
Norway

Mitrovic (61')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Braut Haaland (26')
Aursnes (3'), Meling (82')

Preview: Serbia vs. Norway - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Nations League clash between Serbia and Norway, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Kicking off a busy period of international action, World Cup finalists Serbia get their new UEFA Nations League campaign under way on Thursday, as they welcome Norway to Belgrade.

Battling it out in Europe's second tier once again, the League B Group 4 rivals convene at Stadion Rajko Mitic with both teams targeting promotion from a group also featuring Sweden and Slovenia.


Match preview

Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 27, 2021© Reuters

After securing a spot at the World Cup in dramatic circumstances - snatching automatic qualification away from Portugal deep into stoppage time of their final Group A match - Serbia have been building towards the upcoming finals in Qatar.

Six months on from Aleksandar Mitrovic's last-gasp strike in Lisbon, the Eagles - who accumulated 20 points from their eight qualifying fixtures; three clear at the top of the table - are back in competitive action, following mixed fortunes in their springtime friendlies.

In March, Dragan Stojkovic's side edged out Hungary by means of an own goal, before then visiting fellow World Cup finalists Denmark - arriving in Copenhagen on the back of a seven-game unbeaten streak.

Representing a test of their credentials as contenders for a place in the knockout stage, they failed to cope with a clinical home side, as comeback kid Christian Eriksen was among the scorers in a chastening 3-0 defeat.

Set to join Brazil, Cameroon and Switzerland in Group A of this winter's global gathering, Serbia also won only one of six Nations League matches in their previous campaign, so will want to start more positively in their opening quartet of fixtures, which take place throughout the next fortnight.

Norway's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 29, 2022© Reuters

A similarly packed post-season schedule awaits Norway during June, as after they visit Serbia, the Nordic nation tackle local rivals Sweden both home and away, and also host Slovenia in between.

Stale Solbakken's side will not be preparing to perform on the game's greatest stage, however, as they came up short in World Cup qualifying Group G, and despite a promising generation arising, have failed to make the finals since 1998.

Finishing third in a three-way tussle for top spot with the Netherlands and Turkey, the Lions were tamed too often in the decisive games, and a surprising lack of firepower - given an attack featuring Erling Haaland, Alexander Sorloth and captain Martin Odegaard - ultimately cost them dearly: Norway's final two fixtures came and went without scoring.

They did, though, concede only eight times in the process - at a rate of less than a goal per game - and were similarly stingy in their last Nations League campaign.

Leaking just seven goals on their way to second spot behind Group 1 winners Austria represented a respectable result at League B level, and following successive friendly wins in March - by an 11-0 aggregate scoreline, against Slovakia and Armenia - it appears that Norway will pose a threat at the other end.

Serbia form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L

Norway form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W


Team News

Serbia's Dusan Vlahovic pictured on March 24, 2021© Reuters

Star striker Dusan Vlahovic has been ruled out of Serbia's squad for their four Nations League games this summer, despite his inclusion in Dragan Stojkovic's original 34-man group.

Removed from the final list due to an unspecified injury concern, the Juventus forward scored 24 times in 36 Serie A appearances last season, but Aleksandar Mitrovic (44 goals; 71 caps) and Real Madrid's forgotten man Luka Jovic are instead set to take on the hosts' attacking burden.

Captain Dusan Tadic also features in the Serbs' creative department, having racked up 84 international caps to date - most likely as the playmaker in a 3-4-1-2 formation.

On the other hand, Norway are able to call upon their most famed centre-forward, as 21-year-old Erling Haaland - who scored 22 goals in 24 Bundesliga games last term, before signing on at Manchester City - is available.

Meanwhile, experienced defender Omar Elabdellaoui will be absent from Staale Solbakken's squad due to injury, with Brentford's Kristoffer Ajer not included.

Leo Ostigard, Stefan Strandberg and Andreas Hanche-Olsen are therefore expected to compete for two places at the heart of the visitors' back four.

Serbia possible starting lineup:
Dmitrovic; Milenkovic, Veljkovic, Nastasic; Zivkovic, Lukic, Gudelj, Kostic; Tadic, S. Milinkovic-Savic; A. Mitrovic

Norway possible starting lineup:
Nyland; Pedersen, Ostigard, Hanche-Olsen, Meling; Thorsby, Berge, Odegaard; Hauge, Haaland, Elyounoussi


SM words green background

We say: Serbia 2-1 Norway

Serbia have not lost at home since the end of 2020, and given the competition for places ahead of an exciting winter in the Middle East, they should perform near their best on Thursday.

While Norway's current crop is surely their most able in decades, few teams dictate terms to the hosts in Belgrade, so the visitors' Nations League campaign could be set for an opening-day loss.


For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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How you voted: Serbia vs Norway

Serbia
55.8%
Draw
17.3%
Norway
26.9%
197
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