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Serbia vs Switzerland
2018 FIFA World Cup, Group E
|Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad|
Switzerland have managed to become the first team at the 2018 World Cup to win, after being behind, coming away 2-1 victors over Serbia in a thrilling tussle in Kaliningrad.
Serbia opened the harder and faster of the two teams, with opening chances shortly converted by Aleksandar Mitrovic, who bulleted a header into the net to give the Serbians the lead. The remainder of the half was the story of possession dominance by the Swiss, holding onto close to 70% possession.
However, it was Serbia who led at half-time. The second half belonged to Switzerland though, as Granit Xhaka scored with a world class strike from distance, to give Switzerland parity.
The Swiss continued to press, and an end to end contest ultimately provided the platform for Xherdan Shaqiri to break away and, though under pressure from the defender, slot the ball past the Serbian keeper, and seal the victory for the Swiss outfit.
Switzerland face off against Group E rivals Serbia, in a key match up that could very well decide one of the top two places available for that knock stage, with both teams coming off confidence-boosting results in their opening matches. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 4am AEST.
Coming into this morning’s (or depending on where you’re following, tonight’s) fixture, each team would have had this match pencilled in as a key match up in their hopes for progressing through the group stage.
Undoubtedly, Serbia would have been hoping that this match would give them an opportunity to put their European rival away in pursuit of the knock out stage, and while that may still be the outcome, the Swiss are, very suddenly, an even trickier opponent.
Serbia were made to earn their win against Coasta Rica, and while they ultimately came away with the three points on that occasion, it took an Aleksander Kolarov wonder-strike to wrap up the win for the Serbians.
The point being that, while Serbia won, they had to earn it against their less-fancied opponents, and Serbia will be mindful that one win does not a successful World Cup make.
Switzerland, despite not winning themselves, arguably come into this match in the better form of these teams.
Holding Brazil to a draw in their opening match, the first time in 40 years that Brazil has failed to win their opening World Cup match, is a truly extraordinary feat, something that should give the Swiss confidence to take on any opponent.
For Serbia, the carrot of tying up knock out round qualification with a game to spare should spur them on, however for the Swiss, the knowledge that they can take it to the world\’s best and get a result should give them confidence to keep the 2018 dream alive.
It promises to be a wonderfully fascinating match.
Expect Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka to control the match with aplomb from the middle, while once again Kolarov for Serbia will be the main man.
A tough Serbian opponent looking to rubber stamp their passage to the next phase up against a disciplined and confident Swiss team hoping to keep their World Cup alive. Truly an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. The two may simply cancel each other out.
Switzerland 1 – Serbia 1.
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