Chile impressed at the Confederations Cup in Russia last summer, but they’re not making a return in 2018. They missed out on a World Cup place after a gruelling few years for their stars. Copa America wins in 2015 and 2016 followed their World Cup run in Brazil. After four straight years without a break during the summer, it’s understandable that the Chileans have rested key stars during their summer friendlies. However, Serbia haven’t got this clash quite as far down their list of priorities.
The Serbians did manage to book a World Cup spot, coming through arguably the weakest qualifying group in Europe. Both Wales and Austria underperformed, while the Republic of Ireland were underwhelming at times in qualifying. However, Serbia’s achievement can’t be written off. They’re expected to struggle against the likes of Switzerland and Brazil this summer, but can the Serbians cause a surprise? They do have the talents to Nemanja Matic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the middle of the park, which makes them a threat.
The latter has become a brilliant goalscoring midfielder, and the all-action Lazio man can help take some of the scoring burden on the international stage. Of course, the Serbians have Aleksandar Mitrovic up top, and after his displays for Fulham in the back half of the season he should pose a threat this summer. While Serbia don’t exactly strike you as an attacking outfit, they have goals in their side. That showed over the course of the World Cup qualifiers, as they racked up 20 goals in 10 matches.
Serbia have scored in their last 10 matches, and they head to Graz expecting to record a strong result. Chile’s weakened side should struggle to keep a clean sheet, although dropping Claudio Bravo probably aids Chile more than Serbia. Their three options in goal have just 10 caps between them, so there’s not a lot of experience there. Their defence is largely inexperienced too, with only one player with more than 20 caps. As a result, we can’t see Serbia’s scoring run ending this week.
However, this Chile side are fresh from scoring twice at Romania last week, and they claimed a 2-1 win over Sweden in a trip over to Europe in March. We expect them to pack some threat up front, and Serbia aren’t the most mobile at the back. With that in mind, we think that backing both teams to score in this clash is the best way to go, while we’re tipping a 1-1 draw between the pair.
Serbia claimed a 3-1 victory over Chile in the only previous meeting between these two nations, which came back in 2012.
Former Man City defender Matija Nastasic was among those cut from the Serbian World Cup squad.
Chile make this trip without Alexis Sanchez or Arturo Vidal in their line up. They have seven domestic based players, and another 10 from Mexico.