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Serbia Euro 2024 squad announced - Which players should England be wary of?

Following the announcement of Serbia's preliminary Euro 2024 squad, Sports Mole looks at which players their Group C opponents - including England - should be wary of.

Serbia's full squad for Euro 2024 has been named by head coach Dragan Stojkovic, who called upon an initial 35 players for the national team training camp before trimming down to the required 26 ahead of their flight to Germany.

Nine men have been axed from the ranks before Serbia begin their first-ever bid for European stardom as an independent nation, having qualified for the first time since reaching the Euro 2000 quarter-finals as Serbia and Montenegro.

The Eagles will be pitting their wits against England, Slovenia and Denmark in Group C for the right to advance to the knockout rounds, and the Three Lions will be their first opponents at the continental gathering on June 16.

With that in mind, Sports Mole takes a look at which Serbian players England should be wary of ahead of their opening battle at the Arena AufSchalke.


71-goal attacking duo

Juventus' Dusan Vlahovic celebrates scoring their first goal on September 16, 2023© Reuters

Two men who unsurprisingly survived the squad cull are Stojkovic's two star strikers in Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic, the former of whom is his nation's all-time male top scorer with a staggering 58 efforts to his name.

Since ending his prolific Fulham stint, the 29-year-old has been making nets bulge for fun in Saudi Arabia with Al-Hilal, contributing an incredible 38 goals from 40 appearances in all tournaments; between October and February, he scored in an unbelievable 11 consecutive Saudi Pro League matches.

The second-highest scorer in the division behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Mitrovic's attacking efforts will be aided by another high-profile centre-forward in Juventus' Dusan Vlahovic, who has struck 13 goals of his own for the national team in 27 matches.

The 24-year-old has not exactly hit the same heights at Juventus as he did at Fiorentina, but 16 goals for the Serie A season is nothing to be scoffed at, leaving Stojkovic spoiled for choice when it comes to talismanic figures up front.


Champions League cult hero

Dusan Tadic in action for Serbia in November 2022© Reuters

Still going incredibly strong at the age of 35, Dusan Tadic - now plying his trade with Turkish powerhouses Fenerbahce - will proudly sport the Serbian captain's armband at this summer's European Championships.

The former Southampton and Ajax attacker was an irrepressible force for a number of years in Amsterdam - memorably shining during their run to the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals, the same season he won the Eredivisie Golden Boot with an astounding 28 strikes.

A three-time Serbian Footballer of the Year, Tadic has not lost his prolific streak since leaving Ajax last year, contributing 15 goals and 15 assists from 55 Fenerbahce appearances this season as his side engage in a captivating two-way Turkish Super Lig title fight with Galatasaray.

No men's player has won more caps for Serbia than Tadic's 108, and the 35-year-old has also chalked up 23 goals and 40 assists for his nation since making his first appearance nearly 16 years ago.


Former Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea midfield target

Al Hilal's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Aleksandar Mitrovic on May 11, 2024© Reuters

While excelling in the Lazio engine room, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic - an all-action fulcrum with a serious eye for goal - was frequently tipped to take the step-up to a Premier League Big Six club, namely Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United.

However, the 29-year-old ultimately joined the profusion of players seduced by Saudi Arabian riches and now joins Mitrovic in donning the Al-Hilal jersey, a move which has certainly worked out on a personal level.

Indeed, Milinkovic-Savic has struck 12 goals and set up 17 more in 43 games for Al-Hilal - hitting double figures in both metrics in the Saudi Pro League campaign - and he also boasts eight efforts from 50 matches in a Serbia jersey.

Also possessing an intimidating physical frame at 6ft 3in tall, Milinkovic-Savic is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with an England midfield lacking any true enforcers, barring Declan Rice and - potentially - the fledgling Adam Wharton.


Serbia's 26-man Euro 2024 squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Predrag Rajkovic (Mallorca), Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (Torino), Djordje Petrovic (Chelsea)

Defenders: Nemanja Gudelj (Sevilla), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina), Strahinja Pavlovic (Red Bull Salzburg), Filip Mladenovic (Panathinaikos), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen), Uros Spajic (Red Star Belgrade), Srdan Babic (Spartak Moscow), Nemanja Stojic (Backa Topola)

Midfielders: Dusan Tadic (Fenerbahce), Filip Kostic (Juventus), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Al-Hilal), Nemanja Maksimovic (Getafe), Sasa Lukic (Fulham), Andrija Zivkovic (PAOK), Mijat Gacinovic (AEK Athens), Ivan Ilic (Torino), Srdan Mijailovic (Red Star Belgrade), Lazar Samardzic (Udinese), Veljko Birmancevic (Sparta Prague)

Attackers: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Al-Hilal), Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina), Luka Jovic (AC Milan), Petar Ratkov (Red Bull Salzburg)


Manager - Dragan Stojkovic

Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic on March 25, 2024© Reuters

Already regarded as one of the greatest players in Yugoslavian history, Dragan Stojkovic was hitherto a nifty playmaker who enjoyed success in his homeland, France and Japan, forming part of Marseille's Champions League winning crop of 1992-93.

After retiring as a player in 2002, Stojkovic served as Serbia and Red Star Belgrade president and eventually began his coaching journey in Asia, before the Eagles came calling for his services again.

Formerly in charge of Nagoya Grampus and Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F, the 59-year-old took the national team reins in March 2021 and ensured that Serbia would be present at the 2022 World Cup, albeit one which ended prematurely in the group stage.

Nevertheless, Serbia did not lose a single one of their World Cup 2022 qualifying games under Stojkovic's tutelage - even taking four points from a possible six against Portugal - and while injuries may have curtailed his playing career, his managerial journey is continuing at full throttle.


Form

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

After suffering a premature exit from the 2022 World Cup in the group stage, Serbia started 2023 with a stellar four-match winning streak across friendlies and Euros qualifiers, although that 100% record would not precede a perfect record for the entire calendar year.

Nevertheless, two losses to Hungary were the only blemishes on Serbia's Euro 2024 qualifying notebook, as Stojkovic's side saw off Bulgaria, Lithuania and Montenegro to finish second in Group G, but their overall form picture does not make for totally pleasant reading.

A friendly clash with Cyprus on March 25 may have ended in a 1-0 victory thanks to a Milinkovic-Savic strike, but they had been battered 4-0 by Russia four days beforehand and also went down 1-0 to Belgium in November's exhibition fixture.

The Serbians' struggles continued in their first of two warm-up matches for Euro 2024, losing 2-1 to Austria on June 4 as Patrick Wimmer and Christoph Baumgartner struck before a Strahinja Pavlovic consolation.

However, the Eagles quickly put things right in a 3-0 thumping of Sweden on June 8, where the aforementioned Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic and Mitrovic all contributed to the morale-boosting romping.


Group and fixtures

Euro 2024 Group C

June 16: Serbia vs. England (8pm | Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen)
June 20: Slovenia vs. Serbia (2pm | Allianz Arena, Munich)
June 25: Denmark vs. Serbia (8pm | Allianz Arena, Munich)


Expected XI

Rajkovic; Gudelj, Milenkovic, Pavlovic; Zivkovic, Maksimovic, Milinkovic-Savic, Mladenovic; Tadic; Vlahovic, Mitrovic


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Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring their first goal on June 5, 2022
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Euro 2024 fixtures header
Sunday, June 16
 
5pm
Monday, June 17
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Tuesday, June 18
 
5pm
Wednesday, June 19
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Thursday, June 20
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Group Stage
Spain
vs.
Italy
Friday, June 21
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Saturday, June 22
 
5pm
 
8pm
Sunday, June 23
 
8pm
 
8pm
Monday, June 24
 
8pm
 
8pm
Tuesday, June 25
 
5pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
 
8pm
Wednesday, June 26
 
5pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
 
8pm
Saturday, June 29
Sunday, June 30
Monday, July 1
Tuesday, July 2
Friday, July 5
Saturday, July 6
Tuesday, July 9
Wednesday, July 10
Sunday, July 14
Tables header RHS

Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Germany Germany11003
2 Switzerland Switzerland11003
3 Hungary Hungary10010
4 Scotland flag Scotland10010

Group B

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Spain Spain11003
2 Italy Italy11003
3 Albania national flag Albania10010
4 Croatia Croatia10010

Group C

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Denmark Denmark00000
2 England flag England00000
3 Serbia Serbia00000
4 Slovenia Slovenia00000

Group D

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Austria Austria00000
2 France France00000
3 Netherlands Netherlands00000
4 Poland Poland00000

Group E

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Belgium Belgium00000
2 Romania Romania00000
3 Slovakia Slovakia00000
4 Ukraine Ukraine00000

Group F

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Czech Republic Czech Republic00000
2 Georgia Georgia00000
3 Portugal Portugal00000
4 Turkey Turkey00000


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