Saturday, July 13, 2024

Prediction: Slovenia vs Serbia

Verdict: Draw

Best odds: 12/5

Bookmaker: Betfair

Two Group C teams vying to stay in the hunt for the last 16 of Euro 2024 meet at the Allianz Arena in Munich on Thursday afternoon, as Slovenia face Serbia.

The two nations, unable to secure a win in their opening group matches, are separated by just one point in the standings. A victory here would be crucial in significantly boosting their chances of advancing to the knockout rounds.

Slovenia

Competing in their first European Championship since 2000 and their first major tournament since the 2010 World Cup, Slovenia began their Euro 2024 Group C campaign with a 1-1 draw against Denmark in Stuttgart last Sunday.

The Danes took the lead in the first half with a goal from Christian Eriksen, who scored exactly 1110 days after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020. Slovenia showed resilience and equalized 13 minutes from time when Erik Janza’s deflected shot found the net past Kasper Schmeichel.

Slovenia head coach Matjaz Kek described the draw as a “fair” result, noting the contrasting halves, with his team finishing the match strongly. Ranked 57th by FIFA, Slovenia are still searching for their first-ever win at the European Championship as an independent nation, having not secured victory in their previous three matches at Euro 2000. One of those draws was against Serbia (then playing as Yugoslavia).

Slovenia are currently unbeaten in their last seven international matches across all competitions, although they have won just one of their last four encounters with Serbia. Their most recent clash ended in a 2-2 draw in the UEFA Nations League in June 2022, a week after suffering a 4-1 defeat to the same opponents.

Team News

Kek might retain the same starting lineup for Thursday’s match, with last weekend’s goalscorer Erik Janza continuing at left-back, forming a back four with Jaka Bijol, Vanja Drkusic and Zan Karnicnik, in front of Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

Adam Gnezda Cerin and Timi Max Elsnik are expected to partner again in central midfield, although 92-cap veteran Jasmin Kurtic will be vying for a recall. Petar Stojanovic and Jan Mlakar should remain on the wings.

Star forward Benjamin Sesko, with 11 goals in 30 appearances for Slovenia, is likely to be partnered by Andraz Sporar up front.

Serbia

Serbia are making their debut at the European Championship as an independent nation this summer and they failed to secure any points in their first Group C match, losing 1-0 to tournament favorites England last Sunday.

England took the lead in the 13th minute with Jude Bellingham’s header. Serbia improved as the game progressed, especially in the second half, putting surprising amounts of pressure on England for long periods.

But despite their efforts, Serbia lacked sharpness in the final third, with only one of their six shots hitting the target. Manager Dragan Stojkovic commended his players’ “bravery” and believed they “did not deserve to lose” to a team ranked 29 places higher by FIFA.

Historically, including matches as Yugoslavia/Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia have won just once in their last 12 European Championship games (D2 L9). This opening defeat places them at the bottom of Group C, making at least one win in their remaining two games essential for a realistic chance of advancing to the knockout stage.

Serbia’s four points from two Nations League games against Slovenia in 2022 might boost their confidence for Thursday’s match, which they likely see as crucial before facing Denmark on June 25th.

Team News

Filip Kostic has been ruled out of the rest of Euro 2024 due to a knee injury sustained against England, so Filip Mladenovic is set to replace him at left wing-back.

Fulham’s Sasa Lukic and Sevilla’s Nemanja Gudelj are likely to continue in central midfield, unless Stojkovic opts to deploy Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in a deeper role after he started as a number 10 in the previous match.

If Milinkovic-Savic moves into a deeper position, it would allow playmaker Dusan Tadic, who surprisingly started on the bench against England, to return to the starting lineup and play behind strikers Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dušan Vlahovic. Tadic starting with Milinkovic-Savic on the bench is also an option, particularly in view of the latter’s underwhelming performance against England.

Conclusion

Six of the last eight encounters between these nations have ended in draws, and although both teams will be eager for a win on Thursday, a tightly contested match is expected in Munich.

Each side has star strikers capable of creating significant challenges on their day, but it remains uncertain if their impact will be enough to secure three crucial points.

Verdict: Draw

Best odds: 12/5

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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