Preview: Russia vs. Serbia – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday’s friendly clash between Russia and Serbia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Serbia travel to the VTB Arena in Moscow to face Russia in an international friendly on Thursday evening.

The two nations meet for the first time since November 2020 when Serbia put Russia to the sword 5-0 in a UEFA Nations League fixture.

Match preview

© Reuters

Amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Valeri Karpin‘s side have not played a competitive fixture since November 2021 and were expelled by UEFA from qualifying for Euro 2024.

Ranked 38th in the world by FIFA, Russia took part in eight international friendlies in 2023, winning three of those including a thumping 8-0 victory over Cuba in their final match of the year in November – their only defeat during this period was a 2-1 loss to Egypt Under-23s.

Karpin, who is also the manager of FC Rostov, is now preparing his side for two more friendly matches against Serbia and Paraguay, with their fixture schedule from the summer onwards currently unknown.

Russia have drawn their last two friendly encounters with Serbia by a 1-1 scoreline, but they did come out on top in their last home meeting in a UEFA Nations League match, winning 3-1 in September 2020.

Serbia will be using Thursday’s game as preparation for Euro 2024 after they successfully qualified for this summer’s tournament in Germany courtesy of a second-placed finish in Group G.

The Eagles picked up 14 points across their eight group fixtures, but they were forced to settle for second place as they suffered home and away defeats to eventual group winners Hungary, finishing four points behind their Central European counterparts.

Dragan Stojkovic has spent just over three years in charge of Serbia and has won 20 of his 35 matches, although only two of those victories were posted in their final seven fixtures of 2023.

Serbia, ranked 32nd in the world by FIFA, have only won one of their last six meetings with Russia – the aforementioned 5-0 victory almost four years ago – but Stojkovic is keen to see his players turn up for two “important games” this month, with Thursday’s contest followed by a trip to Cyprus four days later.

Russia form (all competitions):

Serbia form (all competitions):

Team News

Serbia's Srjdan Babic celebrates with teammates after the match on November 19, 2023© Reuters

Russia boss Karpin has named a relatively-inexperienced 29-man squad, with only five players boasting over 15 international caps.

Three of those are Monaco’s Aleksandr Golovin, Atalanta BC’s Aleksei Miranchuk and La Harve’s Daler Kuzyayev, and the midfield trio are all in contention to start, with the latter hoping to earn his 50th cap.

Highly-rated Real Sociedad star Arsen Zakharyan will also be pushing to start, while one of Fyodor Chalov, Konstantin Tyukavin or Ivan Sergeev – who have just one goal and 11 caps between them – could be handed a start as a central striker.

As for Serbia, Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic and Red Bull Salzburg defender Aleksa Terzic have both been forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury.

Chelsea goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic will be hoping to earn his third cap at the expense of Predrag Rajkovic and Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, while Srdan Babic, Strahinja Erakovic and Erhan Masovic are all set to compete for a place in the back three alongside Nikola Milenkovic and Strahinja Pavlovic.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Sasa Lukic, Filip Kostic and Dusan Tadic are all in contention to feature in midfield, while all-time record goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has found the net 57 times in 87 caps, is set to start up front.

Russia possible starting lineup:
Safonov; Volkov, Osipenko, Diveyev, Silyanov; Zakharyan, Kuzyayev, Glebov, Miranchuk, Golovin; Chalov

Serbia possible starting lineup:
Petrovic; Milenkovic, Pavlovic, Babic; Zivkovic, Lukic, Gacinovic, Kostic; S. Milinkovic-Savic, Tadic; Mitrovic

SM words green background

We say: Russia 1-3 Serbia

It remains to be seen how strong both nations will line up for Thursday’s friendly, but Serbia’s squad possesses more experience and quality, so the visitors can be regarded as favourites to come out on top in Moscow.

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

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