Aleksandar Mitrovic is hoping the fear of failure will pile the pressure on Brazil and provide Serbia with a route through to the World Cup knockout stages.
The seemingly unthinkable prospect of Brazil exiting the tournament at the group phase will become reality if Serbia overcome the five-time champions in Moscow and Switzerland secure at least a point against Costa Rica.
That scenario would create a wave of criticism for Tite and his players, and Mitrovic is hoping Serbia can exploit Brazilian nerves at Spartak Stadium.
Mitrovic told a news conference: “I think there is more pressure on Brazil, because they are not accustomed to this situation, that they can fall into the first round, while we have nothing to lose.
“And I think that as long as we are in the game, it will give us a chance to go further.
“We need to be smart, give our best, and with a little luck and God’s help, we can win.”
— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 25, 2018
Mitrovic also hailed the belief in the Serbia squad despite the 2-1 defeat to Switzerland on Friday.
“If I didn’t think we could win, I would pack my things and go and the same goes for my team-mates,” he added.
“Favourites do not get an easy ride here, Croatia beat Argentina for example.
“Costa Rica and Switzerland have shown that they can play with Brazil and I am confident that we will knock them out.”
Brazil have stuttered through their first two matches, drawing with the Swiss before late goals from Philippe Coutinho and Neymar downed Costa Rica.
Tite will have to cope without Danilo once again – the Manchester City full-back is continuing to struggle with a hip complaint – while Juventus winger Douglas Costa will also be absent due to a hamstring injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Serbia – Aleksandar Mitrovic
He may not be the most elegant, or technically gifted, player at the World Cup, but Mitrovic will certainly make life difficult for the Brazil defence. Mitrovic has scored 18 goals in 26 games for Fulham and Serbia in 2018 and is a constant threat, especially from crosses.
Brazil – Philippe Coutinho
With Neymar struggling to find top gear, Coutinho has assumed the mantle of Brazil’s creative fulcrum. He scored a stunning effort against Switzerland and followed it up with the injury-time opener against Costa Rica.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the second meeting between Serbia and Brazil with the former as an independent nation – their first encounter was in a friendly in June 2014, Brazil winning 1-0.
– In all competitions, Brazil are unbeaten in 13 matches (W9 D4 L0), conceding just three goals in that run.
– Brazil have only managed one victory in their last seven World Cup games against European opposition (D2 L4) – a 3-1 win against Croatia in 2014.
– Serbia have lost each of the six World Cup matches in which they have conceded, winning the two in which they kept clean sheets.
– Brazil’s Neymar has been directly involved in 18 goals in his last 17 appearances for the national side (10 goals, 8 assists).
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