Competing for the first time as Serbia (previously played as Serbia and Montenegro in 2006, and Yugoslavia prior to that), the country looks to be a strong contender.
The White Eagles finished first in their qualifying group (ahead of 2006 World Cup runner-up France) and combined a rock-solid defense with a new emphasis on offense, as the Serbs were the fifth highest-scoring team in European qualifying.
Even more important is the locker room atmosphere. The Serbian team is notorious for imploding at major tournaments, however this squad finally seems to have gelled together under the helm of head coach Radomir Antic, a characteristic that shouldn’t go overlooked.
Serbia’s recent form has been disappointing, however. They were beaten last week by New Zealand, who although being a team in the 2010 World Cup, is one of the weaker opponents in the tournament and was ranked 63 places lower than Serbia. The team followed that match with another goalless effort, this time drawing with Poland.
It is not the right time for a team to start struggling. Even worse, all is quiet in the locker room now but, if the Serbs continue to struggle, is another locker room blowup to come?
Key Players: Nemanja Vidic (D), Neven Subotic (D), Dejan Stankovic (M)