Soccer-Serbia will start with confidence against Slovenia, coach says

  • Football
  • Thursday, 20 Jun 2024

Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group C - Serbia v England - Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen, Germany - June 16, 2024 Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic reacts REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Serbia will not repeat the mistake of their Euro 2024 opener against England by showing Slovenia too much respect, manager Dragan Stojkovic said on Wednesday, adding that he plans to make two changes to the starting lineup for his side's next game.

Stojkovic brushed aside reports of a bust-up with the influential Dusan Tadic, saying the player had apologised after criticizing the coach publicly for leaving him out of the starting line up in the 1-0 Group C loss to England.

"Whatever he said, he said," Stojkovic said, who told a news conference he plans to return Tadic to the starting lineup against Slovenia. "He apologised. We are moving on. Now the most important thing is to play against Slovenia."

"Against England we started playing with too much respect," he added. "We started playing football against them and that's how we're going to play this match."

With Juventus player Filip Kostic ruled out of the tournament with injury, Serbia will nevertheless look to repeat their second-half display against England when they ratcheted up the pressure as they searched for an equalizer.

Serbia sit at the bottom of Group C behind Denmark and Slovenia on one point each, with England in first place on three points. This makes a Serbia win critical, Stojkovic said.

"We'll do all we can to win against Slovenia," he said. "We're not going to go into this match thinking about any other result."

An estimated 30,000 Serbian supporters are expected to travel to Munich for the match at the Munich Football Arena on Thursday, something Stojkovic said would provide extra motivation for the players.

Serbia forward Aleksandar Mitrovic said he didn't expect any surprises from Slovenia and underlined his manager's desire to approach the match like the second half against England, with every player who enters the pitch ready to give their all.

"If you ask me I'd like to attack and keep the ball for 90 minutes," Mitrovic said. "I'd like to keep attacking."

"This is the match we are living for. Good opponent. Full stadium. Whoever is going to come on to the pitch will do the maximum."

(Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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