World Cup 2018: Serbia vs Brazil – Lineups, Preview & Prediction

19:00 BST, Wednesday 27th June, Spartak Stadium (Moscow, Russia) ITV

Costa Rica may have already fallen, but only one point separates the other three teams in Group E. 

For Serbia, this effectively means a must-win game against the world’s second-highest ranked side awaits them in the Russian capital. While a draw could see them slip through to the last-16, Switzerland are fully expected to avoid defeat against Costa Rica.


Brazil, by contrast, will progress with anything other than defeat, however, they will want to finish top of their group which could well require a win.

In what will be the first competitive meeting between these sides since Serbia became an independent nation, a tense clash awaits which has all of the ingredients to produce some proverbial fireworks.

Last Time Out

Serbia 1-2 Switzerland 

Mladen Krstajic's side lost their first half advantage before falling foul of an injury-time winner which broke Serbian hearts.

The game had got off to a good start for the Eagles, Aleksandar Mitrovic’s fifth minute header giving them an early lead. The Serbian striker continued to threaten during a first half in which his side were well on top, however, a second goal failed to materialise.

A rocket from Granit Xhaka seven minutes after the restart served to switch the momentum of this match. Inspired by an impressive Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland gained the ascendency and looked the most likely to score the next goal.


REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

After Shaqiri had sent a shot against the woodwork from a snap-shot on the edge of the area, Serbia should have regained the lead. Mitrovic found himself being manhandled in the area by two defenders, however, both the referee and VAR failed to award a penalty.

With time running out and a draw looking imminent, Shaqiri took matters into his own hands. The Swiss forward raced clear after beating the offside trap on the halfway line before slipping the ball under Vladimir Stojkovic to take all three points.

Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica 

Two injury-time goals finally broke a stubborn Costa Rican resistance to give the pre-tournament favourites their first win.

Throughout the match, Costa Rica offered little in an attacking sense. Finishing the match with 28% of possession and none of their three shots finding the target, they played a game of containment in search of a draw.

In the face of physical tactics, Brazil failed to carve out many clear chances during the first half. 



Neymar and Willian both failed to provide any spark either side of Gabriel Jesus in their frontline, Neymar particularly losing his rhythm due to robust challenges which tested his right ankle and left his socks in tatters.

The second half did see more chances fall to the Brazilians, but they were unable to apply any telling touches.

The game will long be remembered for the penalty Neymar saw removed with VAR assistance, however, a late Philippe Coutinho goal provided victory before Neymar took the last word with a more legitimate reason.

Serbia Lineup

Serbia made one change in their previous game, Filip Kostic being drafted into the lineup to replace Adem Ljajic on the left wing.

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Kostic’s quiet display could see this decision reversed for this crucial fixture, although, no other changes are expected to made by Krstajic.

Brazil Lineup

Having missed the previous match through injury, both Douglas Costa (hamstring) and Danilo (hip) again look set to sit on the sidelines against Serbia.

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This could well see an unchanged lineup from Tite who notoriously places much faith in consistency with his selections.

Roberto Firmino, however, is pushing for a start after looking lively in his two cameos, more so than Gabriel Jesus.


Key Battle: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Serbia) vs Casemiro (Brazil)

Lazio’s playmaker entered this World Cup with a glowing reputation and nothing has so far happened to diminish his credentials. 

Having played as an auxiliary striker at times in this tournament, the central midfielder will be the player Brazil need to shackle if they’re to subdue their opponent's efforts.

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

In Real Madrid’s Casemiro, Brazil have the perfect tool at their disposal to man-mark the Serbian out of the game though.

Considered by some to be the best defensive midfielder currently playing, Casemiro will play a crucial role for his country in a position that does not always receive the plaudits it deserves back in Brazil.

Winning this battle could go some way to seeing that change however.


Talking Points

Clouded by emotions

Neymar made the headlines for all the wrong reasons against Costa Rica, a match he finished with a late goal and a burst of tears. This wasn’t the only outpouring of emotion made by the striker inside the Krestovsky Stadium, frustrations often visibly boiling up from him during the game.

While the striker was left with ripped socks from his physical treatment by Los Ticos, there can be little excuse for the abusive torrents he let loose.

REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Aimed at the referee and Brazil’s captain-for-the-day, Thiago Silva, alike, Neymar was a player being controlled by his emotions. 

With Serbia expected to give Brazil and Neymar a rough ride in their final match, Neymar will need to keep his emotions in check and play with more maturity if he’s to achieve all he can for his country.


Selective criticism

Neymar is not the only person who needs to keep his emotions in check this week. 

After a relatively controversy World Cup so far, the Serbia-Switzerland match has ignited an unwanted political storm. Both Swiss goalscorers celebrated their strikes with a gesture which can be interpreted as containing serious undertones of political aggravation.

FIFA are currently investigating three Swiss players believed to have made Kosovan hand signals, but this has not prevented Serbia’s manager, Mladen Krstajic, from inflaming the situation.

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

His accusations of referee bias and comparisons of the FIFA to the Hague’s perceived injustices are unlikely to fall on kind ears with the governing body.

Whatever the truth behind the provocative gestures and reported Kosovan flag printed on Shaqiri’s boot, Krstajic would position his team much stronger by focusing on the future rather than becoming bogged down in the past.


Prediction: Serbia 1-3 Brazil

The Serbs are likely to put up a strong fight in this match and could make life very tricky for the Brazilians. Boasting one of the strongest midfield’s in the World Cup, it’s the lack of quality at each end of their team which could prove to be decisive in this game.

Brazil’s players will know that now is the time to perform for their country and under this pressing need, they could find an effective edge to their game which has so far been missing in Russia.

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