Nemanja Matic, Lazar Markovic Spearhead a New Serbian Footballing Era

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterSeptember 8, 2014

BELGRADE, SERBIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Lazar Markovic (C) of Serbia in action against Bacary Sagna (R) and Jeremy Mathieu (L) of France during the International friendly match between Serbia and France at the Stadium JNA on September 07, 2014 in Belgrade, Serbia, 2014. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Dick Advocaat has stumbled into an excellent new job, and from the look on his face throughout Serbia's 1-1 draw with France in Belgrade on Sunday evening, he's well aware of the potential at his fingertips.

Les Bleus took the lead via a Paul Pogba tap-in early on but were eventually pegged back by Aleksandar Kolarov. In truth, the draw flattered France; Hugo Lloris' five or six brilliant saves kept the score level and respectable for the visitors.

Serbia started rather slowly and looked off the pace early on, failing to pressure France in possession and allowing them to dominate play.

However, after Pogba's strike, they kicked into gear and were by far the better side by the 60-minute mark.

Lazar Markovic and Zoran Tosic took it in turns to torment France's full-backs, Dusan Tadic elusively slipped into the space created by them and Nemanja Matic looked ominous in central midfield as usual.

With Kolarov in arguably the form of his life, Branislav Ivanovic looking consistently superb and a myriad of youth prospects coming through, the future is undeniably bright for the Serbian national team. 

Advocaat, a winning manager who is proven at international level, could be just the calm presence the nation needs to unlock the potential of their many stars.

Igor Mladenović @Mladenovic_

One hour to go before #Serbia v #France and nobody in local media knows starting lineups. First (positive) change from Mihajlovic era

We're not looking to draw too much stock from a single international friendly. However, with the talent available, the deep national pool and the recent youth footballing success stories, the Eagles are a storyline worth watching.

That they were able to bring a player of Adem Ljajic's calibre off the bench speaks of depth, frankly, that England don't even boast. Dusan Basta (Lazio), Nenad Tomovic (Fiorentina) and Milos Jojic (Borussia Dortmund) spent the entire evening in Belgrade on the bench, unused, too.

In 2013, the U19 team won the European Championships in Lithuania by toppling France in the final. They are the only team to have qualified for the finals in each of the last four years, per The Guardian.

BELGRADE, SERBIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Nemanja Matic (R) of Serbia is challenged by Remy Cabella (R) of France  during the International friendly match between Serbia and France at the Stadium JNA on September 07, 2014 in Belgrade, Serbia, 2014. (Photo by Srdja
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Aleksandar Mitrovic won the tournament's Best Player Award last summer and came off the bench on Sunday. Impressive playmaker Marko Pavlovic is getting his chance at FC Porto this season. Meanwhile, Tottenham defender Milos Veljkovic is being nurtured quietly and made his Premier League debut at the end of last season.

All of these players are expected to make an impact sooner or later in the senior side.

With respect to former boss Sinisa Mihajlovic, his abrasive character was perhaps never the answer to honing Serbia's conveyor belt of young talent. He came on a little strong at times, including banning Ljajic from the national side for not singing the national anthem.

Advocaat, in many ways, can be considered the opposite.

Serbia have had the talent for two years, and now they may well have found the manager to unlock it. A tough Group I in Euro 2016 qualifying was made a little easier on Sunday as Portugal lost to Albania, and the Eagles could well be flying to France for the tournament proper if things fall into place.


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