The 2020-21 edition of the UEFA Nations League is set to feature its first set of fixtures this week as Russia and Serbia lock horns in a crucial League B fixture that could set the precedent for both sides going into the competition.
The Nations League will see the start of a new cycle this week with national teams across Europe battling each other for supremacy in a league competition that will continue for the next two years.
Russia finished behind a formidable Sweden side in the 2018-19 edition of the UEFA Nations League and will want to secure promotion into League A in this cycle. The Russian Premier League is one of the few European leagues that are in full flight at the moment and Stanislav Cherchesov's side needs to make the most of its home advantage at the Lev Yashin Stadium on Thursday.
Serbia, on the other hand, enjoyed a fruitful 2018-19 UEFA Nations League campaign and remained unbeaten to gain promotion to League B. The Serbians have a potent attacking combination and may well be the favourites to win this game.
Russia vs Serbia Head-to-Head
Russia and Serbia have played only four fixtures against each other since the turn of the century and the home side has a significant historical advantage over the Serbians. Russia has never lost an official fixture against Serbia and will do everything in its power to maintain the status quo this week.
The two teams have played four official games and Russia has managed two victories and two draws. The previous fixture between the two sides was played in 2016 and late goals from Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandar Mitrovic resulted in a 1-1 stalemate.
Russia form guide: W-L-W-W-W
Serbia form guide: D-W-W-W-W
Russia vs Serbia Team News
Russia forward Alexander Kokorin is injured for this fixture and has not been included in the squad. Andrey Semenov is suspended and will play no part in the game.
Injured: Alexander Kokorin
Suspended: Andrey Semenov
Serbia will have to do without midfielder Filip Kostic against Russia as the Eintracht Frankfurt star is currently serving a suspension. Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic has made a surprise return to the squad and is set to feature in the starting 11. Nemanja Matic has retired from international football and will have to be replaced in the line-up.
Suspended: Filip Kostic
Russia vs Serbia Predicted XI
Russia Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Anton Shunin; Fedor Kudryashov, Georgi Dzhikiya, Egor Sorokin, Vyacheslav Karavaev; Daler Kuzyaev, Aleksandr Golovin; Fedor Smolov, Anton Miranchuk, Aleksey Ionov; Artem Dzyuba
Serbia Predicted XI (4-1-3-2): Marko Dmitrovic; Nikola Milenkovic, Nikola Maksimovic, Stefan Mitrovic, Aleksandar Kolarov; Nemanja Gudelj; Adam Ljajic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic; Aleksandar Mitrovic, Luka Jovic
Russia vs Serbia Prediction
Russia and Serbia are fairly even as far as squad depth is concerned and have enjoyed excellent results in the Nations League so far. The 2020-21 edition presents a fresh start, however, and both sides have the attacking ammunition to win this game.
Luka Jovic will be looking for some much-needed redemption in this game and is likely to start alongside Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Tadic in a star-studded attack for Serbia. Both teams have plenty of talent all over the pitch and a high-scoring draw is the most likely outcome.
Prediction: Russia 2-2 Serbia
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