European U21 Championship 2015: Serbia Team Guide

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 11, 2015

European U21 Championship 2015: Serbia Team Guide

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    The 2015 European U21 Championship kicks off on June 17 in Prague, giving us football fans a welcome reprieve from tedious summer transfer links and a lack of competitive domestic football.

    This exciting tournament is where some of tomorrow's stars announce themselves, and the squads selected for it ooze class and quality. In 2013, Thiago Alcantara, Isco, Asier Illarramendi and more all shone as Spain decimated, but who will catch the eye this year?

    We're previewing each of the eight nations competing here at Bleacher Report, and we're continuing the series with Serbia.

    Link to the series:

    All statistics, fixture details and results via UEFA.com unless noted otherwise.

    With thanks to Igor Mladenovic (@mladenovic_) for assistance and expertise during research.

Road to the Finals

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    Rene Schütze/Associated Press

    Serbia's qualifying campaign was a mixed bag. There were some mightily impressive results (the 3-0 crushing of Belgium in Louvain) but also some poor ones (losing to Cyprus in Achnas). 

    They managed to edge into second place behind Italy and qualify for the play-offs to reach the final tournament.

    Results

    Serbia 2-1 Cyprus

    Cyprus 2-1 Serbia

    Serbia 3-1 Northern Ireland

    Serbia 2-2 Belgium

    Serbia 1-0 Italy

    Belgium 0-3 Serbia

    Italy 3-2 Serbia

    Northern Ireland 1-4 Serbia

    Serbia drew the daunting opposition of Spain in the play-off for the finals, but they managed to overcome them on aggregate in impressive style.

    A 0-0 home draw in the first leg helped neither side, but Mladen Dodic's men managed a 2-1 victory in Cadiz to dump the defending champions out before reaching the group stage proper.

Squad

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    Sergio Camacho/Getty Images

    The UEFA U21 official Twitter account confirmed the Serbian FA's 23-man squad for the tournament.

    Here is the selection in full:

    Goalkeeepers: Marko Dmitrovic (Charlton Athletic), Nikola Peric (Jagodina), Nemanja Stevanovic (Cukaricki)

    Defenders: Marko Petkovic (Red Star), Filip Stojkovic (Cukaricki), Aleksandar Pantic (Cordoba), Uros Cosic (Pescara), Uros Spajic (Toulouse), Lazar Cirkovic (Partizan), Nemanja Petrovic (Partizan), Aleksandar Filipovic (Jagodina)

    Midfielders: Aleksandar Kovacevic (Red Star), Darko Brasanac (Partizan), Mirko Ivanic (Vojvodina), Srdan Mijailovic (Kayserispor), Milos Jojic (Borussia Dortmund), Goran Causic (Eskisehirspor), Filip Djuricic (Southampton)

    Forwards: Nikola Stojiljkovic (Cukaricki), Aleksandar Pesic (Toulouse), Slavoljub Srnic (Cukaricki), Filip Kostic (Stuttgart), Luka Milunovic (Platanias)

Manager Profile: Mladen Dodic

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    The Serbia U21 manager is Mladen Dodic, who was promoted to the role after proving his worth and overachieving with Serbian league teams Jagodina and Novi Pazar.

    He had to work around the loss of star players to other tournaments and squads as he built his selection. Matija Nastasic, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Lazar Markovic were blocked by their respective clubs; Luka Jovic is injured; Danilo Pantic is suspended; and Predrag Rajkovic, Milos Veljkovic and Andrija Zivkovic all went to New Zealand with the U20 squad.

    Dodic still has some talent at his disposal, though, with Milos Jojic, Filip Djuricic and Filip Kostic all in. Mirko Ivanic of Vojvodina scored 10 this season and could be a strong option off the bench.

    Expect good football from Serbia up top, but concerns remain at the back.

Star Player: Milos Jojic

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Serbia have had to stretch a national pool extremely far, as the U20 FIFA World Cup took several star players, injury stole two more and some of the more established players have joined the seniors for critical qualifiers.

    That leaves Milos Jojic as the star option in this U21 squad, and he has plenty to prove after a difficult six months in Germany with Borussia Dortmund.

    He's played central midfield at times but thrives more as a winger, has an eye for an opportunistic goal and contributes to excellent combination play in the final third. He's a smart kid who knows how to play football, rather than recklessly dribble and assault full-backs one-on-one.

    Add in that his set piece delivery is excellent, and you've got a major creative vein.

One to Watch: Filip Djuricic

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    Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press

    Previous selection, Filip Kostic, has withdrawn from squad at Stuttgart's request.

    Filip Djuricic is playing for his own future, and he can use the U21 European Championships as a springboard for his next move.

    A failed loan spell at Southampton likely means he'll return to Benfica this summer, and if he can't convince new manager Rui Vitoria of his talents, he'll be seeking pastures new again.

    Given that Kostic has withdrawn from the side, Djuricic becomes an even more important creative presence. He's shrunk under pressure at times at every club he's been at, and Mladen Dodic will be praying he can extract at least three good performances from the player this summer.

European U21 Championship Record

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Serbia's history at the U21 European Championship is split into three sections, detailing their fates as Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro and Serbia as an autonomous nation.

    There's one victory on the resume as Yugoslavia, in 1978, when Vahid Halilhodzic starred in a competition-winning campaign. They also lost a final as recently as 2007.

    Team Record at the Euro U21 Championship (as Yugoslavia)

    Wins: 1

    Runners-up: 1 

    Semi-finals: 2

    Failed to qualify: 7

    Team Record at the Euro U21 Championship (as Serbia and Montenegro)

    Runners-up: 1

    Semi-finals: 1

    Team Record at the Euro U21 Championship (as Serbia)

    Runners-up: 1

    Group stage: 2

    Failed to qualify: 1

Group Fixtures

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Match 1: Germany vs. Serbia

    Venue: Stadion Letna, Prague

    Date: June 17, 2015

    Time: 7:45 p.m. BST

    Match 2: Serbia vs. Czech Republic

    Venue: Stadion Letna, Prague

    Date: June 20, 2015

    Time: 5 p.m. BST

    Match 3: Denmark vs. Serbia

    Venue: Stadion Letna, Prague

    Date: June 23, 2015

    Time: 7:45 p.m. BST

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