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Zeko lopove...
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Hey everyone, I’m surprised to see so many posts. I guess that’s what success brings :D something we as a national side haven’t had lately. I watched the full 120 minutes and I think that might have been our most dominant performance in quite some time, against half decent opposition.

Football is a team game but Norway definitely has some great youngsters coming through in Haaland, Odergard, and Ajer. All three looked quite average today, and a lot of it was how we were setup tactically.

Some observations -

Maksimovic knows Odergard from La Liga and I wonder if Ljubisa told him to man mark him. Their no. 10 maestro couldn’t get on the ball.

We cut out a lot of their build up play by the positioning of the front three. The communication between Mitrovic, Djuricic, Tadic, Maksimovic and Gudelj was spot on... something I haven’t seen for a long time.

This forced Norway into more long balls, where they might have thought they had an advantage, but Mitrovic and especially Milenkovic had two outstanding games in the air. It seemed to me like it was our plan to force them to play long with one of Milenkovic and Mitrovic heading out and the other sweeping up any loose balls in behind... that was largely why Haaland and Sorloth didn’t really have a sniff at goal or the ball.

Must be said, everyone contributed...

Rajkovic, as good as he has been at Reims, delivered his best and most complete performance in a national team jersey since he made his debut. There were no errors in concentration, and the one handed grab on Omar Elynoussi’s cross to Haaland in the second half at 0-0 was good as a goal because Haaland was beating Milenkovic to that ball at the six if it came through. I was a bit surprised to see Rajkovic start as he didn’t breathe confidence into me versus Turkey, and given that Dmitrovic has been mostly good for us. However, Rajko delivered today. I hope he can build and grow into what we’ve known has been coming for a long time, his No. 1 tenure.

Defensively we were solid as mentioned above and I was surprised at the ease at which Milenkovic and Mitrovic played. Also, Kolarov was finally half decent as a center back and his distribution of the ball was quite good in which he found Tadic with diagonals several times. I wonder how much working with Conte has impacted Kolarov’s understanding of the 3-5-2 system. He played the same left center back position for Intern in a 3 man backline against Fiorentina last weekend.

In the middle, Gudelj was again excellent. He has kicked up a notch after moving to Sevilla and for me has become our best ‘tempo’ player. He manages the fluency of the side well, something we haven’t really had since the best days of Matic. I thought he was excellent in the first 60 minutes in Russia, by far our best player, and seems like he has convinced Tumbakovic of his quality. Maksimovic is a quiet, confident killer. His incessant pressure and reading of the game is a great foil to Gudelj. Both can be defensive as well, and it seems like their time at Getafe and Sevilla has given them confidence. As with Rajkovic, I am really glad for Nemanja Maksimovic... he was one of the golden generation in 2015 that we had high hopes for. Hope his progression continues.

On the wing backs, I was also impressed. Lately it’s Kostic and Lazovic who play there, but after Filip’s injury for Frankfurt against Hertha Berlin, Tumbakovic had a choice to make; either play one of his regular 15-16 players out of position, start Kolarov there, or play one of the unknowns in Mladenovic or Ristic. He went with the most risky option of starting with Mihailo who doesn’t have much experience at this level, but man it paid off. He plays in a similar system at Montpellier under der Zakarian, and since the start of the season he has been the starter and been playing really well notching up a few assists in Ligue Un. This was one decision by Ljubisa that I was impressed with. He could have gone safe and ‘defensive’ with Filip Mladenovic, but Mihailo stepped up and delivered.

Darko, I just got to say, hvala. He played today with his heart and not his head. He got injured in our last game against Turkey which pretty much ruined his start to the Serie A season, but instead of withdrawing from the squad after just this past weekend getting his first taste of Serie A action, he showed up and ready to play. He has gone from being a rotation wing back under Juric and Prandelli at Genoa to being one of Hellas Verona’s best players last season, and his willingness to learn new ideas has significantly paid off. He never quit, and he is reaping the rewards at 30 years of age. It should be noted he is a left wing back at Hellas, the only player to play all 38 league games last season for Verona, and this has also made him adept on both wings. He was quite unpredictable today as he sometimes cut inside, sometimes went wide. That’s hard for an opponent to deal with. It was a shame his shot in the 100th minute didn’t go in.

Up front, Tadic was his usual self. He was keeping things simple and ticking. Maybe he is slightly off his game from that magic two seasons ago with Ajax, but his quality earned us the second goal as it was his flick onto Mitrovic that gave Mitro the space to find Lazovic, who then once again found Tadic centrally on the six before Dusan masterfully assisted to Sergej. He also had a couple of balls to Djuricic that were excellent in the first half where we should have capitalized.

Mitrovic was his usual self. He was a hound, and he won so many aerial duels against Ajer that it almost become embarrassing. He didn’t capitalize on his one major chance, but given his record of goals for us, I’d say it’s just one of those days. His defensive positioning was also quite good in the first half and it should be noted he was involved in the build up to both goals... assisting to Sergej for the opener. Until Jovic gets his head right, and Vlahovic earns his stripes at Fiorentina (he is getting there) there is no better forward we have to lead the line in this system.

Djuricic, alongside the performances of Ristic and Rajkovic was the stand out for me. I’ve been watching Filip quietly progress under de Zerbi for the last 2,5 seasons. Filip went on loan to Benevento mid way through the season three seasons ago, and after a torrid time at Sampdoria he showed flashes as an impact sub before Benevento were relegated. The following season he followed de Zerbi from Benevento to Sassuolo and he has gone from strength to strength. He was mostly a sub at the beginning of last season, but then started some games while for others he’d come in off the bench. With Berardi, Caputo and Boga all in great form during the last campaign Djuricic fed off that and the offensive style with which de Zerbi’s Sassuolo play. When Boga went down with Covid to start the season, Djuricic has been playing out of his mind... the type of player we always hoped he could become. He is taking much less time on the ball and that has changed his level of play as his dribbling and finishing has always been solid. His retention of the ball defensively has also improved. His goal against Spezia was pure genius two weeks ago to start the Serie A season, and I highly recommend that to all of you if you haven’t seen it already.

Before I get to the subs, I’ll say I know everyone will talk about SMS’ goals, but I think the tempo at which we played with tonight was only made possible by the level of connection between Gudelj, Maksimovic, Tadic, Djuricic and Mitrovic. It was the fluidity of Djuricic especially that made our play much faster in the final third, and that’s why I hope he continues to start instead if SMS even though he didn’t score tonight.

For the subs, I thought Ljubisa did a good job managing the game. It is clear to me that with Milivojevic and SMS our game becomes a lot slower without the zippiness of passing we saw in the opening 60 minutes. One might say that’s fatigue, but they were fresh when they come on and our passing became much slower.

Milivojevic hasn’t been starting at Crystal Palace since the season started, so that might have something to do with his rust, but I hope for Tumbakovic that he sees that Maksimovic and Gudelj are the best we have at the moment.

In regards to SMS, both of his goals were quality but the second was quite simply sublime. That was world class on display. At the same time, I think Tadic and Mitrovic are not the most mobile of players and SMS’s style doesn’t fit in terms of the possession style we saw with Djuricic. They are just different players, and hopefully Ljubisa continues to manage the situation as needed. I quite liked Sergej’s response to the question of him not starting tonight noting ‘he was quite understanding of the manager’s tactical decisions and was quite happy to come and have such an impact.’

I think Sergej is best used as an offensive midfielder in a 3-4-2-1 but at Lazio he has Immobile, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa doing a lot of the running, so I don’t think his qualities complement Mitrovic, Tadic and Gudelj as much. In the same system he impacts us much more with his lack of speed. That’s why I think Djuricic started and why Tumbakovic should get some credit.

Gacinovic was solid in a couple of situations but I am still not seeing the quality I hope from him. It will be interesting to see how he does at Hoffenheim after his transfer there.

Lukic only played for a minute, but I will say he has regressed a little at Torino after Mazzari left. Giampaolo doesn’t seem to trust him yet.

Overall, I was expecting very little, so to play in the manner that we did, and to win the way we did, the team and Tumba deserve some praise. Many were doubtful, and with reason, but we showed our class tonight and should have won the game in the regular 90. We had 19 shots, 9 on target and I think that says it all.

Onto Scotland!
 
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Serbia were far superior to Norway for 110 minutes. The only time the Norwegians actually got a grasp of things was when we opened the goal scoring and decided to sit back. This should've been decided inside the first 30-45 minutes had Serbia been a bit more efficient. Tumbaković did a really good job using a back-three because Nordic countries (apart from maybe Denmark) don't know how to play against or use that type of system themselves, especially if the opponent has defenders who can construct from the back. The long diagonals moved Norway from one side to another as they tried to play narrowly and this helped Serbia to establish the ball higher up the pitch. It was important to accumulate players inside these zones before constructing. Serbia did that very well for large portions of the game. This is something Muslin utilized a lot with a team that wasn't as good in terms of preparing itself for possible counter attacks. Lazović played really well and I'm happy he uses his ability 1-vs-1 in order to create opportunities for himself and his teammates.

They still have a lot of things to improve though. The central midfield will need to move the ball much quicker (with less touches and using more angles) in order to be able to do well against teams that'll press more intensively. Norway barely pressed yesterday. The finishing was really bad and I didn't like the way they backed down against a vastly inferior side (especially mentally) to let them into the game when it mattered the most during the last 10 minutes of regular time.

The Norwegian team has got plenty of young players who still lack international experience in this type of game but they've also got a mentality problem since they simply can't qualify for a major tournament. They were incredibly anxious and nervous during the first half. Scared of making mistakes. To the point that some of their best players either got completely cut off from the game or simply didn't create enough on their own.
 
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Zeko lopove...
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1. It was important to accumulate players inside these zones before constructing. Serbia did that very well for large portions of the game. This is something Muslin utilized a lot with a team that wasn't as good in terms of preparing itself for possible counter attacks. Lazović played really well and I'm happy he uses his ability 1-vs-1 in order to create opportunities for himself and his teammates.

2. They still have a lot of things to improve though. The central midfield will need to move the ball much quicker (with less touches and using more angles) in order to be able to do well against teams that'll press more intensively. Norway barely pressed yesterday. The finishing was really bad and I didn't like the way they backed down against a vastly inferior side (especially mentally) to let them into the game when it mattered the most during the last 10 minutes of regular time.
Hey Zoric, good to hear from you man... long time no chat bro. I think these two points were something I was thinking about during the match.

1. It's interesting that Tumbakovic has come back to realize what Muslin already found out when he was manager, that the 3-4-2-1 system is the one that suits us best. Our best 11 under Muslin was largely Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Maksimovic, Nastasic, Rukavina, Milivojevic, Matic, Kolarov, Tadic, Kostic and Mitrovic. Out of that line up, I think the main differences are that we have wing backs who truly understand the position as they play that at their clubs. Kostic, Ristic, Lazovic and Gacinovic know how to play that role and it's a large step up from Rukavina and Kolarov there. In terms of central defenders, we have found a replacement for Ivanovic in Milenkovic. His leadership for me is something we've been lacking since both Vidic and Ivanovic retired. Nikola Maksimovic is a great distributor (I can't believe I'm writing this lol) and he would have surely started instead of Stefan Mitrovic last night had Napoli allowed him to come to Norway. In the center of the pitch, maybe on paper Gudelj and Maksimovic don't stand out like Matic and Milivojevic, but the pace at which we played with centrally last night was something that I was surprised with. To your point, Norway didn't press high, so we'll see how we play against better opposition. It is interesting though that the whole notion of creating triangles on the right, the center and the left has created a lot of potential for our offensive build up. On the right we have Milenkovic, Lazovic, Maksimovic. In the center we had S. Mitrovic, Gudelj, Maksimovic, and on the left we had Kolarov, Maksimovic, Ristic. The constant use of these zones were fundamental in breaking down Norway last night, and it's something we did relatively well under Muslin as well. And to your last point, it helps that we have wingbacks who know how to play 1v1. In addition, it helps to have someone like Djuricic or SMS play in the position Filip Kostic used to occupy under Muslin. I remember watching Kostic at the World Cup in Russia live, and I have to say you could see that by his nature that Kostic is a winger... and sometimes he didn't have the level of intricacy that the position requires. Djuricic coming in has changed all that as effectively that is the position he plays at Sassuolo.

2. Agree on the mental aspect. I was really frustrated to concede when we did given how we played and when we scored. We should have seen the game through to the end and that nervousness didn't sit right with me either. But I will say this, some of our teams in the past would have folded in the overtime. Instead, we picked ourselves back up and found our rhythm. That is a good signal in terms of overcoming adversity as a group. But, again, agree that we should have seen the game through in those last 10 minutes.
 
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This forced Norway into more long balls, where they might have thought they had an advantage, but Mitrovic and especially Milenkovic had two outstanding games in the air. It seemed to me like it was our plan to force them to play long with one of Milenkovic and Mitrovic heading out and the other sweeping up any loose balls in behind... that was largely why Haaland and Sorloth didn’t really have a sniff at goal or the ball.
S. Mitrovic played a solid game yesterday but I can't shake off his past performances with the NT (same goes with Nikola Maksimovic). He seems to have turned a page in his career captaining Strasbourg but I think we can improve with Veljkovic at RCB and Milenkovic moving centrally, particularly against more skillful, mobile teams. I'm guessing Tumbakovic sticks with S. Mitrovic against Scotland (or goes with Nikola Maksimovic) due to their aerial presence but I'm confident that either of those two will cost us against better teams.

I'm not convinced with Kolarov at CB either but we'll see what Conte will be able to do with him as you said. His long range passing from the back and free kicks are a big weapon so you hope his defensive weaknesses can be covered up a little with the current formation.

Djuricic, alongside the performances of Ristic and Rajkovic was the stand out for me. I’ve been watching Filip quietly progress under de Zerbi for the last 2,5 seasons. Filip went on loan to Benevento mid way through the season three seasons ago, and after a torrid time at Sampdoria he showed flashes as an impact sub before Benevento were relegated. The following season he followed de Zerbi from Benevento to Sassuolo and he has gone from strength to strength. He was mostly a sub at the beginning of last season, but then started some games while for others he’d come in off the bench. With Berardi, Caputo and Boga all in great form during the last campaign Djuricic fed off that and the offensive style with which de Zerbi’s Sassuolo play. When Boga went down with Covid to start the season, Djuricic has been playing out of his mind... the type of player we always hoped he could become. He is taking much less time on the ball and that has changed his level of play as his dribbling and finishing has always been solid. His retention of the ball defensively has also improved. His goal against Spezia was pure genius two weeks ago to start the Serie A season, and I highly recommend that to all of you if you haven’t seen it already.

Before I get to the subs, I’ll say I know everyone will talk about SMS’ goals, but I think the tempo at which we played with tonight was only made possible by the level of connection between Gudelj, Maksimovic, Tadic, Djuricic and Mitrovic. It was the fluidity of Djuricic especially that made our play much faster in the final third, and that’s why I hope he continues to start instead if SMS even though he didn’t score tonight.

For the subs, I thought Ljubisa did a good job managing the game. It is clear to me that with Milivojevic and SMS our game becomes a lot slower without the zippiness of passing we saw in the opening 60 minutes. One might say that’s fatigue, but they were fresh when they come on and our passing became much slower.

In regards to SMS, both of his goals were quality but the second was quite simply sublime. That was world class on display. At the same time, I think Tadic and Mitrovic are not the most mobile of players and SMS’s style doesn’t fit in terms of the possession style we saw with Djuricic. They are just different players, and hopefully Ljubisa continues to manage the situation as needed. I quite liked Sergej’s response to the question of him not starting tonight noting ‘he was quite understanding of the manager’s tactical decisions and was quite happy to come and have such an impact.’

I think Sergej is best used as an offensive midfielder in a 3-4-2-1 but at Lazio he has Immobile, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa doing a lot of the running, so I don’t think his qualities complement Mitrovic, Tadic and Gudelj as much. In the same system he impacts us much more with his lack of speed. That’s why I think Djuricic started and why Tumbakovic should get some credit.
You bring up some good points about Djuricic and what he offers the NT and it's hard to argue against it. I suppose the key question is whether Filip can sustain this level at Sassuolo after the long struggle he has had since leaving Herenveen.

I do think that we have to find a way to incorporate SMS beyond being a super-sub though since he might be the most talented/promising player we have and clearly needs to be a key figure for the NT going forward. His skill, finishing ability, aerial presence in midfield, and ability to be used as a second target man give us a few important qualities we really lack that can offset the lack of pace. I think playing him in central midfield is also an option we can look at it in certain circumstances.
 

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They still have a lot of things to improve though. The central midfield will need to move the ball much quicker (with less touches and using more angles) in order to be able to do well against teams that'll press more intensively. Norway barely pressed yesterday. The finishing was really bad and I didn't like the way they backed down against a vastly inferior side (especially mentally) to let them into the game when it mattered the most during the last 10 minutes of regular time.
I think it was a great win considering the circumstances/expectations but, assuming it was a standard qualifier without ET, we would be looking back at the match as incredibly frustrating and a wasted opportunity.
 

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Nice to see you all back! Have you changed forum or just lost a bit of interest (like me)?

Our performance against Norway was good for our standards.

I have been so tired of Tumbakovic and Krstajic changing half of the starters for every new game we play.

Hopefully he can stick with the core of players that started yesterday. Also no need to call-up 35 players for each gathering. 23-25 is enough. A call-up for the NT should be difficult to achieve.

We are only one victory away from a clash with our beloved neighbors at a big tournament!

- GK: Rajkovic must start all games from now on. Dmitrovic is a a good back up, while Nikolic from Basel and Zivkovic from PAOK can compete for the third spot.

- RCB: Milenkovic is perfect for the RCB-position while Maksimovic should be his back-up. Shame Ivanovic isn't coming back as he could be valuble for this position.

- CB: Mitrovic was good yesterday but I would prefer Veljkovic as a long term solution as the CB and leader of the defence.

- LCB: I am not convinced about Kolarov against stronger teams but he is captain and has to start. Nastasic should be his back-up but he seems to be in a feud with FSS? I hope Pavlovic can break out in Monaco to replace Kolarov when he ends his NT-career soon.

- RM: Lazovic has all we need for this position and Gacinovic is a very good back-up. Hopefully Gajic can play well in CZ and become an option.

- DM: Gudelj was good yesterday and can be uesful against specific opponents. Very disappointing situation regarding Matic as he has more to give for the NT. Milivojevic is a good option for this position.

- CM: Maksimovic should always be a starter. As back-up we have Grujic who made a good club choice (Porto). Against easier opponents maybe we should try Sergej at this position and Maksimovic as DM. They have played successfully together before.

- LM: Kostic is a perfect player for this position and Ristic showed that he can replace him when needed.

- AMR: Tadic is our best player and starter. Zivkovic has started well in PAOK and should be his back-up as he has similar characteristics as Tadic. I would leave out Ljajic from the squad if Tadic and Zivkovic are availible.

- AML: Djuricic's comeback has been very helpful for this team and he should continue start if he keep up his form in Italy. Radonjic is a good sub with his speed. Sergej can play in this position too but there is a risk that we become a bit slow with both him and Mitrovic in the upfront trio.

- ST: Mitrovic always play well for the NT but Jovic should get more chances from the bench. Vlahovic is the third choice and will be exciting to follow this season.

71601
 

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Hey Zoric, good to hear from you man... long time no chat bro. I think these two points were something I was thinking about during the match.

1. It's interesting that Tumbakovic has come back to realize what Muslin already found out when he was manager, that the 3-4-2-1 system is the one that suits us best.

2. I think the main differences are that we have wing backs who truly understand the position as they play that at their clubs. Kostic, Ristic, Lazovic and Gacinovic know how to play that role and it's a large step up from Rukavina and Kolarov there.

3. In the center of the pitch, maybe on paper Gudelj and Maksimovic don't stand out like Matic and Milivojevic, but the pace at which we played with centrally last night was something that I was surprised with.

4. Djuricic coming in has changed all that as effectively that is the position he plays at Sassuolo.

5. Agree on the mental aspect. I was really frustrated to concede when we did given how we played and when we scored. We should have seen the game through to the end and that nervousness didn't sit right with me either. But I will say this, some of our teams in the past would have folded in the overtime. Instead, we picked ourselves back up and found our rhythm. That is a good signal in terms of overcoming adversity as a group. But, again, agree that we should have seen the game through in those last 10 minutes.
1. It's a system that works well against a 4-4-2 where the opponent doesn't press a lot (covers mostly) and tries to play narrowly. Scotland will most likely play more aggressively. It'll be an interesting match-up.

2. Well said. The interpretation of a position is key and Lazović really understands it. I think it's hard to switch over to becoming a wing-back if you haven't played the position on a regular basis from a tactical standpoint. Ristić was balancing things well too.

3. Different games require different things. Gudelj and Maksimović are both physically gifted. They're also aggressive/intensive players who win quite a few 50-50's. They push-up well from their positions too - be it in the recovery of the ball or simply in terms of pressing. Both also play for teams that play a very aggressive game in Spain so we're benefiting from it. They struggle in terms of construction though but that's not what they're about.

4. I don't know how I forgot about Đuričić. He was one of Serbia's best attacking players up until being subbed off. Just a shame about his finishing. De Zerbi's been such a blessing for him. It's so important to have a coach that's good in terms of instructing. His movement pattern is on a whole different level compared to when he started out at Heerenveen. He does incredibly well as a false 9 too.

5. Another thing that should be mentioned is how Serbia managed to keep Norway at bay after the second goal. Lesson learned for the most part.
 
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1. S. Mitrovic played a solid game yesterday but I can't shake off his past performances with the NT (same goes with Nikola Maksimovic). He seems to have turned a page in his career captaining Strasbourg but I think we can improve with Veljkovic at RCB and Milenkovic moving centrally, particularly against more skillful, mobile teams. I'm guessing Tumbakovic sticks with S. Mitrovic against Scotland (or goes with Nikola Maksimovic) due to their aerial presence but I'm confident that either of those two will cost us against better teams.

I'm not convinced with Kolarov at CB either but we'll see what Conte will be able to do with him as you said. His long range passing from the back and free kicks are a big weapon so you hope his defensive weaknesses can be covered up a little with the current formation.

2. You bring up some good points about Djuricic and what he offers the NT and it's hard to argue against it. I suppose the key question is whether Filip can sustain this level at Sassuolo after the long struggle he has had since leaving Herenveen.

3. I do think that we have to find a way to incorporate SMS beyond being a super-sub though since he might be the most talented/promising player we have and clearly needs to be a key figure for the NT going forward. His skill, finishing ability, aerial presence in midfield, and ability to be used as a second target man give us a few important qualities we really lack that can offset the lack of pace. I think playing him in central midfield is also an option we can look at it in certain circumstances.
1. Defensively I agree with the notion that Stefan Mitrovic is not our long term solution. He played well against Haaland because his strengths came out due to Norway's tactics. It has also helped that he has been part of senior national setup for quite some time now. In regards to Nikola Maksimovic, I think Tumbakovic would start him more for his passing and distribution even though he is solid in the air. I don't know if you watched Maksimovic for Napoli the past 6-8 months as well as in the game against Russia, but it's quite incredible how much his passing game has improved under Gattuso. It improved so much that he effectively replaced Manolas to partner Koulibaly at Napoli. I think that's the main reason Tumbakovic is high on him. It was a shame that he had that one slip against Russia in the second half, as before that moment his distribution out of the back was about as good as I've seen from one of our center backs in a long time. I see Maksimovic as that center back that will come in for Mitrovic.

As for Veljkovic, I haven't followed him enough at Werder Bremen to understand where he is at the moment. Bremen as a whole have been quite poor the last 3 years and barely avoided relegation last term, but he has been an undisputed starter there at right center back for the most part. It would be interesting to see him and I think we'll have a chance to do that given Tumbakovic will probably rotate the side for the UEFA Nations League against Hungary and Turkey. Let's see how Veljkovic does there in the next week and we can see if we still see him there.

I also agree with you on Kolarov, I don't think he is a center back either, but if he plays this exact same role at Inter, and grows into the position then potentially he can reinvent himself there for the national team for the last 1-2 years of his career. One good thing about Kolarov is his passing and tactical understanding so I'm hopeful he can give us that quality and leadership that we somewhat lack defensively. Milenkovic is emerging as that leader for me, but it will take a bit more time I think.

2. Totally agree regarding Djuricic. He has been on this 'next' level for about 9-10 months now. Effectively since November or December of last year he has been playing extremely well. Let's see if he can sustain this upward momentum. I will say this though, he is 28 and he is really entering his prime. Given he is playing for one of the best offensive outfits in Serie A, and he is in his best form, it's hard to think how he'll lose it. Hope it continues.

3. For SMS, I also agree with the assessment that he is one of our best players. There is no question there for me. The question arises due to the tactical setup of Tadic and Mitrovic. Quality wise he is a better player than Djuricic, but in this setup, Djuricic is a better fit for me currently if both Mitrovic and Tadic are starting. As I mentioned before, SMS works well at Lazio because he effectively has Lucas Leiva doing all of the defensive work, Luis Alberto as the pass master and then Immobile and Joaquin Correa in front of him covering a lot of ground. SMS is left to do what he does best, float and be that box to box presence that chips in with goals. He also has Lazzari or Marusic next to him (depending on the flank he is operating on) and both of them understand to drop when SMS pushes forward. For us, I don't think we are at that level, and when SMS pushes up, it really opens up a hole in our midfield, and why I think sometimes we can seem really slow with him on the field. In conclusion, I think you're right, we need to find a solution for him long term given he is the future of the national team, but I think it will be difficult for him until one of Tadic or Mitrovic is not starting. It's quite crazy though to think that Mitrovic is only 26 and SMS is only 25. Hopefully they can figure out a way to bring in Jovic once he starts firing who's only 22. I'm hopeful that we maybe can figure out how we can work in a 3-4-1-2 system with Mitrovic and Jovic up front with SMS in behind. I think that might be coming after the next European Championships. All I'm trying to say is we need a mobile presence in the attack, and currently Djuricic is that player. With Jovic coming in, someone who likes to run in behind defenses, potentially we can find a way to play SMS behind the front two, but that will require some understanding between those three players and especially the wing backs. Or, as you point out, maybe the solution is SMS playing next to one of Mitrovic and Jovic down the line, with someone feeding in behind them. Interesting times coming for sure.
 
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Scotland beat Slovakia 1-0 in their UEFA nations league match. Lyndon Dykes of Queens Park Rangers was the scorer. They played in a 3-5-2 system with some notable players in Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), John Fleck (Sheffield United), John McGinn (Aston Villa) and Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United). Seems as if McTominay plays in Milenkovic's position as opposed to center midfield, and Robertson plays in the left wing-back role (i.e. Ristic/Kostic for us). Fleck plays in the center of pitch, similar to the role he plays for Sheffield. They can also play the 3-4-3 system similar to us.

It will be an interesting match up on November 12th as both teams use a 3 man backline.
 

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1. Defensively I agree with the notion that Stefan Mitrovic is not our long term solution. He played well against Haaland because his strengths came out due to Norway's tactics. It has also helped that he has been part of senior national setup for quite some time now. In regards to Nikola Maksimovic, I think Tumbakovic would start him more for his passing and distribution even though he is solid in the air. I don't know if you watched Maksimovic for Napoli the past 6-8 months as well as in the game against Russia, but it's quite incredible how much his passing game has improved under Gattuso. It improved so much that he effectively replaced Manolas to partner Koulibaly at Napoli. I think that's the main reason Tumbakovic is high on him. It was a shame that he had that one slip against Russia in the second half, as before that moment his distribution out of the back was about as good as I've seen from one of our center backs in a long time. I see Maksimovic as that center back that will come in for Mitrovic.

As for Veljkovic, I haven't followed him enough at Werder Bremen to understand where he is at the moment. Bremen as a whole have been quite poor the last 3 years and barely avoided relegation last term, but he has been an undisputed starter there at right center back for the most part. It would be interesting to see him and I think we'll have a chance to do that given Tumbakovic will probably rotate the side for the UEFA Nations League against Hungary and Turkey. Let's see how Veljkovic does there in the next week and we can see if we still see him there.
I followed a few of Maksimovic's games for Napoli in the CL last season and thought he was solid enough. My main issue with him is the lack of composure he shows with the NT, not necessarily his club form although I see that Manolas has taken his starting spot back this season. His last match against Russia was one of the worst defensive performances I've ever seen for the NT (only comparable to his performance in the friendly against Morocco when he basically stopped getting callups after). I have no faith that he'll be able to anchor our defence.

Very disappointed that Tumbakovic did not give Veljkovic an opportunity at all and basically let him return to Bremen after the Hungary match. As Milenkovic and S. Mitrovic were the only two players to start all three recent matches, it would seem that Tumbakovic considers them the clear first choice pairing (together with Kolarov). You're definitely right that Werder were very poor last season but they seem to have stabilized defensively since the coronavirus break and with Veljkovic's return early this season. Given that CB is probably our weakest position right now (and I don't consider Mitrovic an inspiring long-term option), there was no reason not to try out other players instead of substituting Gudelj there.

In the past I would be pushing hard for Nastasic but it seems like every time I check the score when he's playing, Schalke is down 3-4 goals. Not sure if he's still unhappy with FSS either. Funny that Bane Ivanovic is probably the best current option we have, despite his age.
 

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Scotland are in 8 game undefeated streak - their best in 32 years. Conceded only 4 goals in the process. Also they will be highly motivated to verse their fierce rivals (England) at Euro.
 
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Scotland are in 8 game undefeated streak - their best in 32 years. Conceded only 4 goals in the process. Also they will be highly motivated to verse their fierce rivals (England) at Euro.
They will be surely motivated to reach the final of the Euros, but you could say the same thing for us. They had a very uninspiring performance against Israel going through on penalties at home after 120 minutes at 0-0, and wins against the Czechia and Slovakia are good, but nothing that we should be significantly worried about.

They have some good players as noted before in the following - RCB Scott McTominay (Manchester United), LCB Kieran Tierney (Arsenal), LWB Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), CM John Fleck (Sheffield United), CM John McGinn (Aston Villa), MF Ryan Jack (Rangers), MF Callum McGregor (Rangers).

They play a very similar system to us in the 3-4-2-1, 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 so there will be minimal tactical surprises. I think it will come down to overall quality if both teams show up with motivation, however if we enter the game slowly, I can see Scotland pressing us similar as to what Hungary did. At the same time, historically we've known how to play against Scotland, Ireland and Wales. For the most part, our technical ability is slightly better so if Tadic, Kostic, Djuricic, Mitrovic, Lazovic, and/or Ristic show up to play, I think we can win this. Also regarding that stat that you point out... this is their record:

Home San Marino 6-0
Away Cyprus 2-1
Home Kazakhstan 3-1
Home Israel 1-1
Away Czech Republic 2-1
Home Israel 0-0 (5-3 pk's)
Home Slovakia 1-0
Home Czech Republic 1-0

Before that they lost to Russia 4-0 in Moscow, lost 2-1 at home, and also lost to Belgium 4-0 at home and 3-0 away. So I'd say based on results, we're about at the same level.

However, as you've pointed out Ljuba...

Supporting 'our' NT is like opening kinder surprise, you're never quite sure what you'll get....

I'll say it this time, let's hope it's not crap.
 
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I think this is the strongest team Scotland has had in years. I seriously doubt we would have picked up 3 wins in 3 games against the Czechs and Slovaks, even if the Scots were a little fortunate with the minimal shots on target and chances they created. I could easily see a scenario where they capitalize on one of our trademark defensive errors and a combination of our missed chances and their efficiency/defensive stability punish us the rest of the way.

Two other notable players of theirs are Stuart Armstrong, who was one of the key players in Southampton's resurgence after the coronavirus break (tested positive and couldn't play recently though) and Ryan Fraser who was very good a couple of seasons ago with Bournemouth but has dropped off in form lately.

Regardless, we're fortunate to be in this position and if we can't get the result at home, then we really don't deserve to be at the Euros.
 

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They will be surely motivated to reach the final of the Euros, but you could say the same thing for us. They had a very uninspiring performance against Israel going through on penalties at home after 120 minutes at 0-0, and wins against the Czechia and Slovakia are good, but nothing that we should be significantly worried about.

They have some good players as noted before in the following - RCB Scott McTominay (Manchester United), LCB Kieran Tierney (Arsenal), LWB Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), CM John Fleck (Sheffield United), CM John McGinn (Aston Villa), MF Ryan Jack (Rangers), MF Callum McGregor (Rangers).

They play a very similar system to us in the 3-4-2-1, 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 so there will be minimal tactical surprises. I think it will come down to overall quality if both teams show up with motivation, however if we enter the game slowly, I can see Scotland pressing us similar as to what Hungary did. At the same time, historically we've known how to play against Scotland, Ireland and Wales. For the most part, our technical ability is slightly better so if Tadic, Kostic, Djuricic, Mitrovic, Lazovic, and/or Ristic show up to play, I think we can win this. Also regarding that stat that you point out... this is their record:

Home San Marino 6-0
Away Cyprus 2-1
Home Kazakhstan 3-1
Home Israel 1-1
Away Czech Republic 2-1
Home Israel 0-0 (5-3 pk's)
Home Slovakia 1-0
Home Czech Republic 1-0

Before that they lost to Russia 4-0 in Moscow, lost 2-1 at home, and also lost to Belgium 4-0 at home and 3-0 away. So I'd say based on results, we're about at the same level.

However, as you've pointed out Ljuba...

Supporting 'our' NT is like opening kinder surprise, you're never quite sure what you'll get....

I'll say it this time, let's hope it's not crap.
Cheers for good & detailed post. Regarding surprises, well I hope so too but considering who runs our football... I'll rather take more than decade old kinder surprise toys from Antic '08 to '10 era, hehe.
 

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Cheers for good & detailed post. Regarding surprises, well I hope so too but considering who runs our football... I'll rather take more than decade old kinder surprise toys from Antic '08 to '10 era, hehe.
Also Ljuba... here are our historical results against the teams from the British isles since 2006 (since independence). In total we have 8 wins, 6 draws and 0 losses. Out of the 6 draws, 3 came at home, 3 came away. Overall, based on historical results, I am optimistic. I understand that this Scottish team is in their best form in a long time, but also the weight of expectation can be a burden once the game starts. We know that better than anyone. Norway was also significantly underestimating us in the media noting Haaland was going to wreak havoc with Sorloth and Odergaard and yet they were found out. Given all of this, I say let the British media talk, that will only serve to help our players.

vs. England - 0W, 0D, 0L (did not play them)

vs. Scotland - 1W, 1D, 0L


2014 World Cup Qualifying - Scotland 0-0 Serbia (Hampden Park)
2014 World Cup Qualifying - Serbia 2-0 Scotland (Karadjordje) - Djuricic x2

vs. Ireland - 2W, 3D, 0L

2008 Friendly - Ireland 1-1 Serbia (Croke Park) - Pantelic x1
2012 Friendly - Serbia 0-0 Ireland (Marakana)
2014 Friendly - Ireland 1-2 Serbia (Aviva Stadium) - McCarthy o.g., Djordjevic x1
2018 World Cup Qualifying - Serbia 2-2 Ireland (Marakana) - Tadic x1, Kostic x1
2018 World Cup Qualifying - Ireland 0-1 Serbia (Aviva Stadium) - Kolarov x1

vs. Northern Ireland - 3W, 0D, 0L

2009 Friendly - Northern Ireland 0-1 Serbia (Windsor Park) - Lazovic x1
2012 Euro Qualifiers - Serbia 2-1 Northern Ireland (Marakana) - Pantelic x1, Tosic x1
2012 Euro Qualifiers - Northern Ireland 0-1 Serbia (Windsor Park) - Pantelic x1

vs. Wales - 2W, 2D, 0L

2014 World Cup Qualifying - Serbia 6-1 Wales (Karadjordje) - Kolarov x1, Tosic x1, Djuricic x1, Tadic x1, Ivanovic x1, Sulejmani x1
2014 World Cup Qualifying - Wales 0-3 Serbia (Cardiff Stadium) - Djordjevic x1, Kolarov x1, Markovic x1
2018 World Cup Qualifying - Wales 1-1 Serbia (Cardiff Stadium) - Mitrovic x1
2018 World Cup Qualifying - Serbia 1-1 Wales (Marakana) - Mitrovic x1

If you wish to back further, here are the results from 1994 to 2006.

vs. England - 0W, 0D, 1L


2003 Friendly - England 2-1 Serbia & Montenegro (Walkers Stadium) - Jestrovic x1

vs. Scotland - 0W, 0D, 0L (did not play them)

vs. Ireland - 1W, 0D, 1L


2000 Euro Qualifiers - Yugoslavia 1-0 Ireland (Marakana) - Mijatovic x1
2000 Euro Qualifiers - Ireland 2-1 Yugoslavia (Lansdowne Road) - Stankovic x1

vs. Northern Ireland - 1W, 1D, 0L

2000 Friendly - Northern Ireland 1-2 Yugoslavia (Windsor Park) - Kezman x1, Mijatovic x1
2004 Friendly - Northern Ireland 1-1 Serbia & Montenegro (Windsor Park) - Paunovic x1

vs. Wales - 2W, 0D, 0L

2004 Euro Qualifiers - Serbia & Montenegro 1-0 Wales (Marakana) - Mladenovic x1
2004 Euro Qualifiers - Wales 2-3 Serbia & Montenegro (Millenium Stadium) - Vukic x1, Milosevic x1, Ljuboja x1

So prior to Serbia, our record was 4 wins, 1 draw and 2 losesses, with both defeats coming away from home in England and Ireland. So in total it's 12 wins, 7 draws and 2 defeats with the last defeat coming in 2003 away to England.

Since the breakup of Yugoslavia (1994) we have never lost to a British team at home, a total of 8 games.
 

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Let's see how the players perform over the coming month. Form can prove to be a good indicator for our reserves. I would say these are the twenty three I would call up at the minute, but that might change based on performances and Covid-19 restrictions next month.

GK - Predrag Rajkovic (Reims), Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar), Zivko Zivkovic (PAOK)

DCR - Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen)
DC - Stefan Mitrovic (Strasbourg), Nikola Maksimovic (Napoli)
DCL - Aleksandar Kolarov (Inter Milan), Uros Spajic (Feyenoord)

WBR - Darko Lazovic (Hellas Verona), Mijat Gacinovic (Hoffenheim)
MCR - Nemanja Maksimovic (Getafe), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace)
MCL - Nemanja Gudelj (Sevilla), Sasa Lukic (Torino), Marko Grujic (Porto)
WBL - Mihailo Ristic (Montpellier), Filip Kostic (Einchart Frankfurt)

AMR - Dusan Tadic (Ajax), Sergej Milinkovic Savic (Lazio)
AML - Filip Djuricic (Sassuolo)

ST - Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham), Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina)

Players to keep an eye on during the next month -

DC Nikola Maras (Almeria)
DC Mateja Nastasic (Schalke 04)
DC Erhan Masovic (VfL Bochum)
DC Svetozar Markovic (Partizan)
DC Strahinja Pavlovic (AS Monaco)
WBR Milan Gajic (Crvena Zvezda)
WBL Filip Mladenovic (Legia Warsaw)
WBL Milan Rodic (Crvena Zvezda)
WBL Aleksa Terzic (Empoli)
WBL Miroslav Bogosavac (Akhmat Grozny)
MCR Ivan Ilic (Hellas Verona)
MCR Uros Racic (Valencia CF)
MCR Branko Jovicic (Ural)
MCR Nemanja Radoja (Levante)
MCL Veljko Nikolic (Crvena Zvezda)
MCL Darko Brasanac (Osasuna)
MCL Nenad Krsticic (AEK Athens)
MCL Milos Vulic (Crotone)
AML Adem Ljajic (Besiktas)
AML Nemanja Radonjic (Marseille)
AML Filip Stevanovic (Partizan)
AML Luka Ilic (Twente)
AMR Lazar Randjelovic (Olympiacos)
AMR Andrija Zivkovic (PAOK)
AMR Danijel Aleksic (Istanbul Basaksehir)
AMR Aleksandar Katai (Crvena Zvezda)
AMR Zeljko Gavric (Crvena Zvezda)
AMR Nikola Cumic (Sporting Gijon)
ST Luka Jovic (Real Madrid)
ST Djordje Despotovic (Rubin Kazan)
ST Dejan Joveljic (Wolfsberger)
ST Aleksandar Prijovic (Al-Ittihad)
ST Slobodan Tedic (PEC Zwolle)
 
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