Serbia vs Switzerland: We are ready for ‘hellish’ clash, Matic says

Alfred Finnbogason

Switzerland earned an impressive draw with Brazil thanks to a second-half goal in their first Group E game of the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

The result left Brazil, 2-0 winners over Costa Rica, top with four points, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference with Serbia on three. "That's not enough; we have to play better against Serbia".

And that resurgence continues to grow game-by-game, as Mitrovic has now scored 18 goals in 26 games for club and country in 2018. But hurt pride was not a factor.

The Kosovo War that ended in 1999 remains a contentious territory in both Serbia and Albania with the region now residing within Serbia, but having it's own Fifa-recognised team. Shaqiri drew attention to his heritage last month by posting a photo of his boots, which feature the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo.

Switzerland wasted little time in finding their equaliser after the break with Granit Xhaka pouncing on a blocked Shaqiri shot and firing an unstoppable blast from outside the box past a helpless Stojkovic on 52 minutes.

In the first half this evening, he completed 41 passes in 41 attempts, and that form rolled over into the second half as the Swiss really began to ramp up pressure on the Serbian goal, with the former West Ham midfielder further completing 59 passes as his side had 62% possession. I spoke to the father of one of our players who is Albanian, and he told me about this history. "They're trying to provoke us but we won't get dragged down to their level".

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"I don't have any comments", Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic said.

Ahead of the grudge match, Serbian media had reported that FIFA had asked the Swiss federation to ban Kosova or "Greater Albania" flags, but the Swiss denied the story as baseless.

Xhaka and Shaqiri, both of ethnic Albanian heritage, put their open hands together with their thumbs locked and fingers outstretched to make what looks like the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania's flag.

Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic has vowed to keep up his side's high-tempo, physical approach that earned them a draw with Brazil. Against Switzerland, he is likely to be the key player once again.

Serbia almost had their second just before the half but Dusko Tosic's diving header from point-blank range skidded off his head to Nemanja Matic who couldn't react fast enough to finish the chance. Switzerland have participated in the last three World Cups and European Championship - 27 points in the qualification is remarkable!

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