Ghostgoal expressed doubts recently whether Serbia ‘s 4-4-2 would be able to deal with a Group D where each of the other three sides play a robust 4-2-3-1. As it turns out, they have slipped up at the first hurdle with a deserved defeat at the hands of Ghana.
Milijas and Stankovic found themselves up against the far more mobile Boateng and Asamoah in midfield and the Ghanaian pair were willing and able to push on in support of Gyan given that they had the insurance of Annan covering in front of the back four. With Tagoe, in particular, also comfortable cutting infield and exploiting the gaps behind the deathly slow Milijas it was a tough lesson for the Serbs.
What was a little surprising was the lack of impact Krasic was able to have on the Serbian right-flank. Jovanovic had his moments on the left but Krasic struggled to get into the game. Perhaps he was caught between two roles*: conscious of the problems in the Serbian midfield he was unable to push on with freedom and instead frequently found himself receiving the ball infield and running into bodies. Indeed, this was a big part of Serbia’s difficulties. It quickly became apparent that they lacked the mobility and shape to have any hope of passing their way through the Ghanaians with Annan in particular blocking routes forward and easy passes into Zigic’s feet. Instead, Stankovic resorted to hitting regular long diagonal passes that brought little joy.
Going forward it is difficult to be optimistic about their chances of improvement unless Antic reviews their entire shape for the next match against Germany. As discussed previously, Mesut Ozil and Tim Cahill will both operate between the Serbian lines of four and it would makes sense to bring in Kacar as a holding player and get Stankovic and Milijas involved further up field. One thing is for sure, it’s make or break time now if they are to avoid a tournament characterised by under-achievement.
*Or maybe he was just the latest victim of the Ghostgoal ‘ones to watch’ curse.