Recognized as the successor of SFR Yugoslavia, the Serbian national football team has inherited the records of this defunct nation. While playing as Yugoslavia, Serbia qualified for the FIFA World Cup nine times from 1930 through 2002, earning its all-time best finish of fourth place in the tournament in both 1930 and 1962.
Since being recognized as Serbia, the national soccer team qualified for the World Cup in 2010 but failed to do so again in 2014. Serbia makes its return to the World Cup this year in Russia after successfully navigating through the qualifying round.
Serbia’s Odds to Win World Cup: +15000
This placement on the World Cup betting board is just below the middle of the pack, with 17 teams garnering better odds to win the event and 11 listed at even longer odds.
Serbia’s Odds to Win Group E: +800
Group E has a very clear-cut favorite and underdog heading into the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Brazil is the clear favorite to emerge as the group’s top team, going off at -400 to do so, making them the biggest favorite to win their group in the entire tournament. Conversely, Costa Rica is the clear dog of the group, going off at +1800 to win it.
Stuck in the middle of those two extremes are Switzerland at +600 to win Group E and Serbia at +800. Assuming things go to plan and Brazil steamrolls the rest of the group and Costa Rica gets pushed around by everyone, the match between Switzerland and Serbia will likely decide which of these teams advances into the Round of 16. Serbia is going off at +115 to advance and -150 to fall outside of the top two spots.
Serbia’s Best World Cup Bets
The most enticing play on the board for Serbia backers is an even-money bet on the team to beat Costa Rica (+285 to win, +240 to draw) in its first game of the tournament. If Serbia has issues with Costa Rica fresh out of the gate, it’s hard to imagine the team having much success on the pitch elsewhere.
The critical game against Switzerland in Group E has fairly even odds as Switzerland is just a slight favorite at +145 over Serbia at +175 with draw odds paying +205. Those wary of betting the game on the three-way line could instead choose to back Serbia as a +105 bet on the two-way pick’em line, with Switzerland going off at -135.
On a game-by-game basis, there may be some value on the OVER in Serbia’s matches. The total is set at 2 goals in the games against Costa Rica and Switzerland and 2.5 against Brazil. At least two goals have been scored in 12 of Serbia’s last 14 matches and three or more have been scored in seven of them.
Should Serbia advance into the Round of 16 as the second seed in Group E, it would face the Sportsbook of Group F, which is projected to be defending champion Germany. This could give some value to Serbia’s stage of elimination wager in the Round of 16, which pays +200.
Serbia’s Player to Watch: Aleksandar Mitrovic
The future looks quite bright for Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. In 2013, Mitrovic led Serbia to a European under-19 championship and was voted the best player in that tournament. His success at that level earned him a promotion to the senior team, which he led in scoring through the World Cup qualifying round with six goals.
The 23-year-old had a breakout year at the club level this year on loan with Fulham, scoring 12 goals in 17 matches with the English club. Mitrovic has a clear knack for finding the back of the net and should make his presence felt in this year’s World Cup.
Serbia’s Road to Russia
With Aleksandar Mitrovic leading the way on offense, Serbia had little trouble navigating its way to the top of the table in the FIFA World Cup qualifying UEFA Group D. Serbia’s only loss came on the road against Austria as the national team fended off Ireland and Wales to earn a bid into the World Cup with a record of 6-3-1.
The team’s 20 goals led UEFA Group D, as did its +10 goal differential. Dusan Tadic, the team’s attacking midfielder who plays his club ball at Southampton, scored four goals through Serbia’s 10 qualifying matches. In four friendlies since qualifying for the World Cup, Serbia is 2-1-1.
|1||Vladimir Stojkovic||GK||Partizan Belgrade||81|
|12||Predrag Rajkovic||GK||Maccabi Tel Aviv||8|
|6||Branislav Ivanovic||DEF||Zenit Petersburg||103|
|13||Milos Veljkovic||DEF||Werder Bremen||2|
|14||Milan Rodic||DEF||Red Star Belgrade||1|
|4||Luka Milivojevic||MID||Crystal Palace||28|
|21||Nemanja Matic||MID||Manchester United||40|
|9||Aleksandar Mitrovic||FWD||Newcastle United||37|
|18||Nemanja Radonjic||FWD||Red Star Belgrade||3|