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

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full match preview for the World Cup Group E clash between Serbia and Switzerland in Kaliningrad.

Serbia can book their place in the last 16 of the World Cup on Friday when they take on Switzerland in Kaliningrad.

A 1-0 victory over Costa Rica has put them on the verge of the knockout rounds, but they will face a Switzerland team that is fresh from holding Group E favourites Brazil to a draw.


Serbia's players celebrate scoring in the international friendly against Bolivia on June 9, 2018© Reuters

History beckons for Serbia on Friday as they bid to reach the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time ever as an independent nation.

It is not an entirely unfamiliar situation, having previously made it to the knockout rounds under the guises of Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro, but doing so under their own flag is a notable achievement for the Eastern Europeans.

Aleksandr Kolarov's stunner to fire them past Costa Rica has put them well on course, and the draw between Brazil and Switzerland means that another win in this match will guarantee their place in the last 16 with a game to spare.

Indeed, Serbia may have even loftier ambitions of winning the group - and potentially avoiding Germany in the last 16 - considering that they already sit top of the pile and have a two-point advantage over the chasing pack.

However, they will be under no illusions that their two most difficult games are still to come; both Switzerland and Brazil are ranked in the top six of the world by FIFA, while the latter went into the tournament as favourites to lift the trophy for a sixth time.

The Eagles will be full of confidence, though, having won three of their last four games and picked up only their second World Cup victory in the opener against Costa Rica.

Serbia's only previous triumph on the biggest stage saw them claim the scalp of Germany in 2010, though, and they may take some hope from that victory heading into their difficult upcoming double-header.

Reaching the last 16 would require Serbia to overcome the odds - they are the lowest-ranked team in Group E, after all - but knowing that they are just one win away from history could be enough for them to spring another surprise.

Recent form: W
Recent form (all competitions): DLWLWW


Switzerland's Steven Zuber scores their first goal in the match against Brazil on June 17, 2018© Reuters

Switzerland are by no means amongst the favourites to lift the World Cup, but their lofty FIFA ranking and recent results suggest that they are capable of going far.

Regarded as the sixth-best team in world football, Switzerland kicked off their campaign with an impressive draw against favourites Brazil courtesy of Steven Zuber's towering header.

It was a result and performance which forced many to reconsider their backing of Brazil to lift the trophy for a sixth time this summer, but it was also only the latest in a growing line of impressive displays.

Switzerland are now unbeaten in their last seven outings - including a warm-up draw against Spain too - and have lost just once in their 18 outings across all competitions since Euro 2016.

Die Nati do have history of failing to kick on after a promising opening result - being knocked out in the group stages in 2010 having toppled eventual champions Spain - but they have already proven that they can hold their own against the very best at this tournament.

Interestingly, they have also qualified from the first round on each of the three previous occasions they have drawn their opening game of a World Cup, doing so in 1938, 1994 and 2006.

Switzerland are already playing catch-up with Serbia, though, and anything other than a victory on Friday would leave qualification out of their own hands and hoping for a favour from Costa Rica against the might of Brazil.

Indeed, defeat could all but end their hopes of reaching the last 16 although, as Brazil will attest to, Switzerland are a notoriously difficult team to beat and only Spain and Brazil have managed to breach their defence in their past seven games.

Recent form: D
Recent form (all competitions): DWWDWD

Team News

Xherdan Shaqiri in action for Switzerland on June 8, 2018© Reuters

Switzerland could name an unchanged side from the one which drew 1-1 with Brazil last time out, with Valon Behrami the only minor fitness doubt for Vladimir Petkovic's side.

Behrami is expected to recover from his muscle problem in time, though, and Petkovic is likely to avoid making any unforced changes.

Zuber could once again be key, having now had a hand in six goals from his last six international appearances - scoring four and assisting two more.

New Arsenal signing Stephan Lichtsteiner will make history if he is selected, becoming the most-capped Swiss player ever at a World Cup.

For Serbia, Filip Kostic will be hopeful of a start in place of Adem Ljajic, but they too are likely to keep changes to a minimum.

Former Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic became his country's leading appearance-maker in the opening game, and he will win cap number 105 to extend that record in this match.

Serbia possible starting lineup:
Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic, Milinkovic-Savic, Tadic, Kostic; Mitrovic

Switzerland possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schaer, Akanji, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic

Head To Head

This will be Serbia's first ever meeting with Switzerland as an independent nation, but the two sides faced off 13 times under the Yugoslavian flag.

Switzerland won just two of those games, with Yugoslavia winning six and the remaining five ending all square.

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We say: Serbia 0-2 Switzerland

Switzerland should pose a noticeable step up in quality from Costa Rica for Serbia, and considering Die Nati's recent results we are backing them to blow Group E wide open with victory.

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Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic on November 12, 2017
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