For those who had not had the chance to see highly-rated Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in action for Lazio last term, this summer’s World Cup provided that ideal opportunity. Linked with a plethora of clubs including Manchester United and Juventus, the talented 23-year-old was to play a starring role for the Serbian national side with 12 goals and three assists already in the bag in domestic action during 2017/18.
It was expected that the attacking midfielder would be deployed in a deep-lying playmaker role after Coach Mladen Krstajic tested Milinkovic-Savic in that position during the pre-tournament friendlies. However, whether the boss changed his mind or it was the plan all along, Milinkovic-Savic was eventually placed in his normal role in the middle of three forwards in a 4-2-3-1, and it is expected that the Serbia star will lineup there once again as the side face the ultimate test versus Brazil.
Supporters could see the player’s full range of skills on show in the opening two matches versus Costa Rica and Switzerland, however a last-minute defeat versus the latter means that Serbia will need to unleash the full power of their attack versus Brazil with only a win enough to guarantee their passage through to the knockout stages. A draw may be enough if the Swiss lose to Costa Rica, a single goal defeat in that match for Serbia’s adversaries meaning that the place will be decided by goals scored.
With Brazil still having failed to fully find their feet in their first two matches, it will be up to their group E opponents to put the five-time world champions under pressure from the get-go. The Canarinhos need just one point to see them enter the knockout stages, but could be overtaken by Serbia and Switzerland if they lose.
If Milinkovic-Savic and co. are to find the back of the net, they will first have to breach talented Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson. The 25-year-old plays his domestic football for AS Roma, cross-city rivals of aforementioned Serbia midfielder’s current club Lazio.
The stopper is also the subject of attention in the transfer market, with rumours of interest from the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid. Milinkovic-Savic never managed to fire past Alisson in Serie A last term, however, he will surely try to salvage his side’s place in the competition by doing so on Wednesday.
After just one sensational season between the sticks for Roma following the departure of Wojciech Szczesny to Juventus last summer, Alisson has earned the Brazil number one spot over Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson. While the Selecao goalkeeping Coach Claudio Taffarel believes that the Roma man will stay put for next season, some of the world’s biggest clubs await his progress in this tournament with interest.
With stakes so high between these two sides, it will be extremely interesting to see how these two Serie A stars perform. A stand-out performance in this World Cup could easily make the difference when considering a big-money move, and failure to win could see either of these sides heading home.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Alisson and hundreds of other footballers are available to trade on Football INDEX: https://www.footballindex.co.uk/stockmarket/team