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Dark horses Serbia must assert World Cup pedigree against Poland

| 02.06.2010

After a strong qualification campaign in which Serbia topped their group ahead of France, Radi Antic’s side were many people’s tip for an extended showing at the World Cup.

However, Saturday’s shock 1-0 defeat by New Zealand, ranked 78th in the world by FIFA, could have undermined all that good work. The side featured Nemanja Vidic, Dejan Stankovic and Nikola Zigic but Serbia’s impact on the game was fairly nondescript.

Indeed, that stilted display against a team many expect to be rudely dealt with in Group F brought back memories of four years ago when, as Serbia and Montenegro, the side qualified for the World Cup unbeaten and ahead of Spain, only to lose all three games and concede 10 goals in a difficult group with Holland, Argentina and Ivory Coast.

Antic’s team have a chance to rectify their poor showing against the All Whites in tonight’s match with Poland in Kufstein, Austria.

After finalising their squad yesterday, Serbia will look to use the match as a test run for their second World Cup game against Germany, a tie that could decide who tops Group D.

A first choice XI is expected to start and Serbia look good value to bounce back from Saturday’s no show with a win – it’s 8/11. With Ivanovic and Vidic at the back a clean sheet looks likely again (they’ve managed this in five of their last seven) so 2-0 is an encouraging 6/1.

Should Serbia secure an anticipated victory, they will be back on course for an impressive tournament, and if they were to beat Germany to the top of Group D – a conceivable possibility – Antic’s side could go far.

It’s the case that, since the system began, at least one of the teams making the World Cup final has been ranked outside FIFA’s top ten going into the tournament. And who would bet against Serbia, ranked 15th, continuing the pattern this time round?

Do Serbia have an outside chance of making it to the 2010 World Cup final? They are 20/1 to do so. See the full Serbia v Poland betting market.

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Author

John Klee