Serbia vs Switzerland Prediction
2nd December 2022
22:00 Qatar Time/19:00 GMT
Stadium 974, Doha
Click to Scroll to Prediction
World Cup Head-to-Head Record
Played:2 Serbia Wins:1 Switzerland Wins:1
Serbia vs Switzerland Prediction Match Overview
Serbia vs Switzerland sees both sides go head-to-head to earn a place in the last 16. Serbia have regrets over what happened in their previous game against Cameroon. The Cameroonians opened the scoring against the run of play after Aleksandar Mitrovic had missed some gilt-edge chances. However, a header from Strahinja Pavlovic and a shot from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in quick succession in first-half stoppage time put the Serbians in front. The victory looked secure after Mitrovic made it 3-1 in the second half. However, Cameroon fought back to claim a 3-3 victory through a Vincent Aboubakar chip and finish at close range from Eric Choupo-Moting. Serbia now know they need a win in Serbia vs Switzerland to have any chance of going through. If they win, they will rely on Brazil not losing to Cameroon.
Switzerland held out well for 83 minutes against the Brazilians, making the game ugly and playing for the point. However, a beautiful Casemiro strike from just inside the box eventually won the South Americans the game. Therefore, Switzerland come into this game knowing that a victory sees them securing second place. A draw would mean they are relying on Cameroon not beating Brazil and then goal difference coming into play. There is a slight chance Switzerland could win the group if they beat Serbia and Cameroon beat Brazil, and there is a four-goal swing. Switzerland could play for a point knowing Cameroon are unlikely to win, but that is risky.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play: Pavlovic (Serbia); Okafor (Switzerland)
Will not play:
Serbia vs Switzerland Prediction Analysis
Midfield Contest and Transitions
The midfield battle will likely be critical in Serbia vs Switzerland. We expect Serbia to line up in a 3-4-2-1 shape and Switzerland in their tried and trusted 4-3-3. In the Serbian midfield, Nemanja Maksimovic and Sasa Lukic must be disciplined and press the ball high when Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler have the ball. Neither team generally plays high-possession football, but with Serbia more reliant on a victory, they will likely try to dominate the ball. Maksimovic and Lukic will receive the ball from the three Serbian centre-backs and look to find little pockets of space further in front. There, they can feed Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and playmaker Dusan Tadic. The Lazio player is more of a box-to-box player and has been getting into good positions for Serbia, as exemplified by his goal in the previous game. Therefore, we expect Milinkovic-Savic to play a more advanced role but come deep sometimes to form little triangles with the defensive midfielders. Tadic, too, will go deep at times to try to overload the midfield areas for Serbia. However, when Switzerland overcommit, the two playmakers will look to break with the ball.
Remo Freuler and Granit Xhaka perform very diligently for the Swiss, playing defensively and covering any gaps that appear. With Switzerland likely only needing a draw, we think they will take no risks. We expect them to sit in, retain their shape, and make it difficult to play through midfield. They will try to eliminate gaps between their midfield and defensive lines that Tadic and Milinkovic-Savic wish to exploit. Djibril Sow has a license to get forward, but we believe he will stay closer to Xhaka and Freuler to condense the space. Xhaka and Freuler must also cover for the Swiss full-backs when they go forward. If Serbia score first, we can expect to see Switzerland become more expansive than before. Xhaka will take more risks in getting forward to take shots or play his beautiful little diagonals out to the wing. In this scenario, there will be more space, and Serbia can play on the counter-attack, looking to use their wing-backs and two playmakers.
Wide Areas and Finishers
The flanks will also be crucial in Serbia vs Switzerland. Serbia, in particular, depend on their wide men, with Filip Kostic and Andrija Zivkovic flying down the sides as wing-backs. We expect them to hold their width and be covered by the two Serbian midfielders and back three while they link with Tadic and Milinkovic-Savic. They will look to find passes or crosses for Mitrovic. The two attacking midfielders will also drift wide, particularly Tadic. He is a good dribbler and great crosser who can come inside from wide areas to feed Mitrovic or shoot. Mitrovic has proved he is more than just an aerial threat or battering ram. He is competent on the ground, too, though he will have to be more clinical than he was against Cameroon. It is vital that he scores when he gets the opportunity, as we don’t see this being a game of many clear-cut chances.
Switzerland also possess a wide threat. Ruben Vargas and talisman Xherdan Shaqiri can go down the line or cut inside and shoot. Shaqiri is adept at coming inside and curling the ball into the opposite top corner. Ricardo Rodriguez and Silvan Widmer will support them. The two full-backs will get up and down the pitch and look to create overloads that the Swiss wingers can exploit or use as decoys. Rodriguez is an excellent option as he is a fantastic crosser of the ball high and low and can supply Breel Embol in the box. If Embolo can get a chance, he must be clinical. Indeed, if Switzerland score first, Serbia will become more desperate. The spaces will open up, particularly out wide. The four wide players can then carry the ball forward on transitions when there is a numerical imbalance.
Serbia Key Players
Given Serbia’s pressing need to win, Tadic is a leading candidate for their key player list, more so than a central midfielder or defender. Tadic can find little pockets of space between the lines and link up with Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic, or Zivkovic. His movement to the sides could create confusion in a generally well-organised Swiss defence. Through this crossing and inventiveness, the Serbians can create chances for Mitrovic. With a three-player backline and fewer attacking players on the pitch, Tadic possesses just the magic required to open up a stubborn rearguard like Switzerland’s.
Mitrovic finally got his goal against Cameroon in the second half. However, he wasted several chances before that, and then Cameroon scored against the run of play. The Eastern Europeans will not want a repeat of that scenario in Serbia vs Switzerland. If Mitrovic gets a chance, he must score, and Serbia will know they must score first. If this happens, Mitrovic will likely get more chances as Switzerland overcommit. Mitrovic’s ability in the air will be paramount as the Serbian wing-backs and attacking midfielders fire in constant crosses for him.
Switzerland Key Players
Akanji is a cultured central defender. However, as stated, this game is likely to be physical for him, as he and Elvedi must try to contain a powerful and aggressive centre-forward in Mitrovic. The Serbian will not give them a moment of peace, and Akanji must try to be proactive and time his tackles and interceptions well. There will likely be an aerial bombardment from Serbia too. Mitrovic has the advantage here, but Akanji must be diligent in his positioning and attempt to get his head to the ball first. His composure is also essential in trying to play the ball into the central midfielders and initiate Swiss attacks.
Shaqiri has been carrying an injury and did not start against Brazil, but we expect him to start here. As Shaqiri is of Albanian descent, the match against Serbia is very personal to him. It is a grudge match for him. He has enjoyed success in this fixture before, as he scored the winner in the last minute when Switzerland were in Serbia’s group in the 2018 World Cup. He hopes to do so again and will use all his trickery, passing and shooting ability, and capability on set pieces to make that happen. Like Tadic on the other team, Shaqiri possesses the magic and stardust that can win his team the game instantly. This x-factor is crucial in an otherwise pragmatic, functional side such as the Swiss.
Serbia vs Switzerland Prediction
Serbia vs Switzerland is a very balanced game, as there is little to separate the sides. They are both decent European teams but not heavyweights. Indeed, their performances thus far in this tournament suggest it could go either way. The onus is on Serbia to attack Switzerland, as the Serbs have to win. The Swiss can likely afford a draw, as Cameroon probably won’t beat Brazil. However, playing a containing game and trying to stifle the opposition is dangerous. This fact is especially true against a side with the wing-backs and attacking midfielders Serbia have – not to mention the battering ram Mitrovic up front. The dynamic of the game will likely change after the first goal. If Serbia get it, the Swiss game plan will be out of the window, and they will have to be more expansive. If Switzerland score first, Serbia know they need at least two, and the Swiss can counter even more than they did before. Overall, we think Serbia will win. We believe their attacking options are better than Switzerland’s and that they will be more adventurous as they need to win. Switzerland are an organised and disciplined team, but we think they’ll be broken through. We have predicted 1-0, though there is a chance Serbia could score again if Switzerland open up. We think Serbia and Brazil will win, granting Serbia the second position in the group.
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