Three thoughts on Serbia’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica


Photo Credit: Getty Images/FIFA

Serbia 1-Costa Rica 0

In a ‘must-win’ game in Group E Serbia defeated Costa Rica 1-0 to open up their 2018 FIFA World Cup. Against a Ticas side that were very organized and featured one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Keylor Navas The Eagles held their won, building attacking chances when they could and making the most of set pieces.

Here’s three observations from their first match and a couple of quick thoughts ahead of their next encounter in Group E with Switzerland (June 22nd, Kaliningrad).

Photo Credit: Getty Images/FIFA

That Aleksandar Kolarov can still crush it on set pieces.

Kolarov unleashed a cracking free kick in the 56th minute to give Serbia the lead. The former Manchester City now Roma center-back seems to have really taken to the position of elder statesmen of this Serbian side. During large portions of the match you could see him instructing the young players on the pitch and giving them pointers on defending. Those lessons may be key against opposition like Switzerland and Brazil.

For now though Serbian supporters can enjoy the fact that their captain delivered one of, if not the, best goal of the tournament so far.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is the real deal. 

Milinkovic-Savic was considered to be one of the top young prospects in the World Cup and it appears from at least the first match that he is worth the hype. Linking up  with Kolarov and Branislav Ivanovic (who became Serbia’s most-capped player this game with 104) he created a very tight, cohesive unit from which Serbia could build attacking chances. His passes were crisp, and his decision-making was for the most part top-notch.

Prijovic was lucky to not see red. 

Serbia nearly squandered away two points Aleksandar Prijović elbowed a Costa Rican attacker deep into injury time. Referee Diedhou Malang, using Video Assisted Referee cameras, seemed to gauge that Prijović didn’t carry intent with the foul and thus only issued a yellow. Still, that’s a call that referees will at times enforce harsher a penalty on and Serbia are lucky that he did not. Near red aside, they seemed to get tired in the final third of the match with Costa Rica using their advantage in speed to create shots. Serbia are going to face sides in this tournament that are going to out-match them in pace in the final third and so they have to be careful with their positioning and avoiding careless challenges late.


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