Aleksandar Mitrovic is last man standing for Newcastle United.
Matz Sels and Henri Saivet were expected to just about creep into the Belgium and Senegal squad, though not expected to get any game time.
However, they didn’t even get that, failing to make the final cut.
So apart from England, Newcastle fans only have Aleksandar Mitrovic representing them in Russia.
An interesting write-up on Serbia by the respected Coaches Voice site, has picked out the Newcastle striker as their key man.
The 23 year old was the top scorer in Group D in qualifying and as the write up says, Mitrovic is ‘an excellent focal point for Serbia’s attacks.’
Central to Serbia’s chances of doing well, will be the front three and how Aleksandar Mitrovic can combine with Tadic and Kostic.
Rafa Benitez has repeatedly made clear that Newcastle’s style of play doesn’t fit with the striker and indeed the stats showed only two Premier League clubs put in fewer crosses than Newcastle last season. With Serbia it is completely different, a style of play that is put together around Mitro, with Tadic, Kostic and others, encouraged to get as many balls into the box as possible.
Good luck to our only representative in Russia and Newcastle’s no.45 doing well at the World Cup is a win/win all round, even if it still means he will be leaving St James Park.
The Coaches Voice:
Forward, 23, Newcastle United
‘Serbia’s main goal threat, Mitrovic scored six times in qualifying to become the top marksman in Group D.
‘The Newcastle striker, who played a huge role in Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League this season, is capable of scoring all sorts of goals but also an excellent focal point for Serbia’s attacks.
‘He is one of only three players in the World Cup squad – alongside Dusan Tadic and veteran defender Branislav Ivanovic – to have more than 10 goals for Serbia.
‘An imposing figure, Mitrovic began his club career at Teleoptik in his native Serbia. Subsequent stints at Partizan and Anderlecht saw him impress enough to earn a move to the Premier League with Newcastle United.
‘He has spent three seasons at Newcastle, but was loaned out to Fulham – with superb success – for the second half of the most recent season.
‘We can expect to see Aleksandar Mitrovic, still only 23, play a key role for his country in Russia.
The target man for the majority of Serbia’s play, he is good at winning the first ball and bringing others into play – he has a good relationship with fellow attackers Tadic and Kostic, from whose deliveries he can be a major aerial threat.’
‘During qualifying, Serbia set up in a 3-4-3 formation and largely played direct into Aleksandar Mitrovic as the focal point.
‘Since Krstajic has taken charge, however, they have switched to a 4-2-3-1 (sometimes 4-3-3) formation and looked to play through the thirds more regularly. This may well be what we see from Serbia in Russia, although don’t be too surprised if they revert to direct play when they face Brazil in their final group game.
‘What hasn’t changed under the new coach is the use and threat of Mitrovic. He still holds play up really well, albeit now slightly more with his feet than his head, and can still be lethal inside the box.’
To watch Aleksandar Mitrovic and Serbia at the World Cup, these are dates and kick-off times.
They are in World Cup Group E:
Serbia v Costa Rica – 17 June 1pm
Serbia v Switzerland – 22 June 7pm
Serbia v Brazil – 27 June. 7pm