KEIR RADNEDGE IN MOSCOW: Brazil, tomorrow in Moscow, should beware the power of Serbia’s resentment over World Cup events in Kazan on Friday.
The Serbs lost 2-1 to Switzerland in a Group E tie overshadowed by Swiss players’ ‘Kosovo goal celebrations’, disciplinary punishment for officials’ heat-of-the-moment comments and anger at a penalty denied to striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Hence Serbia are in determined, siege-mentality mood as they prepare to confront the record five-times World Cup winners at Moscow Spartak. Serbia are third in the table with three points from their opening win over Costa Rica and must defeat Neymar & Co to stay alive in the World Cup and progress to the knockout stage.
Mitrovic, the 23-year-old Newcastle striker, left no doubt about the manner in which the Serbians’ approach to the game has been fuelled by both history and the events of ‘Black Friday.’
He said: “We Serbs are used to having to take the hard way. Against us, anything goes. But we are still here. They can’t challenge us. They can’t knock us down as many times as we can stand up. We’re known for that. We are still here and our heads are not bowed.
“We are going to give it our everything, we are going to die out there on the pitch to represent our national team in the best possible way until the final minute and to make every Serbian proud.
“Those who believe in miracles are the ones who make them happen. We’re Serbian. Nothing is impossible.”
Brazil have made a slow start to their Russian campaign with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland then need for two stoppage-time goals to defeat Costa Rica 2-0. Against Serbia they will be without injured right-back Danilo (thigh) and right winger Douglas Costa (hamstring).
If Serbia do claim a famous victory they would deliver Brazil’s first group stage exit since 1966.
The other, simultaneous, Group E match tomorrow sees Switzerland play already-eliminated Costa Rica in Nizhny Novgorod.