Serbia v Switzerland: Kolarov not interested in playing for a draw

Aleksandar Kolarov stressed Serbia will maintain its intensity when the Balkan nation faces Switzerland in Kaliningrad on Friday.

Serbia full-back Aleksandar Kolarov   -  Getty Images

Aleksandar Kolarov insists Serbia has no plans to take its foot off the pedal as it looks to qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup with victory over Switzerland.

A 1-0 win over Costa Rica and Brazil's surprise 1-1 draw with Switzerland has left Serbia on the cusp of advancing from Group E in Russia.

Serbia has not progressed to the knockout rounds of the World Cup since its independence, failing to get beyond the group stage in both 2006 and 2010.

Kolarov, whose stunning free-kick saw off Costa Rica, stressed Serbia will maintain its intensity when the Balkan nation faces Switzerland in Kaliningrad on Friday. "If we do the math and start playing for a draw then it will not be successful," Kolarov said. "Of course we want to win."

Switzerland will be full of confidence after holding World Cup heavyweight Brazil to a draw in Rostov-on-Don.

It frustrated Brazil — with its physical approach leading to Neymar being fouled on 10 occasions — and managed to escape with a precious point thanks to Steven Zuber's controversial header.

WATCH: Head-to-Head Preview - Serbia v Switzerland

'Very strong'

And Serbia head coach Mladen Krstajic is braced for a difficult encounter, telling Swiss newspaper Blick: "They are very strong! Compact and with a lot of experience. Switzerland have participated in the last three World Cups and European Championship — 27 points in the qualification is remarkable! Their coach is very good, too."

The coach Krstajic is referring to is Vladimir Petkovic, who is hopeful star Valon Behrami is fit to play amid concerns over a thigh problem. "We need him in the next couple of matches," Petkovic said.

Fatigue could be an issue for Switzerland as it spends six hours travelling from Samara to Kaliningrad for the matchday clash. "It's exhausting," said defender Fabian Schar. "But we were well prepared and could recover in the team hotel."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Serbia – Aleksandar Mitrovic

All eyes will be on Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic again after his dazzling display but it could be Aleksandar Mitrovic's time to shine. The Serbia forward amassed four shots against Costa Rica without scoring, having netted five goals in as many international appearances in 2018.

Switzerland – Stephan Lichtsteiner

Arsenal recruit Stephan Lichtsteiner is poised to make history. The 34-year-old full-back is set to become the player with the most World Cup appearances for Switzerland, having equalled Charles Antenen's mark of eight matches in the draw with Brazil.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first meeting between Serbia (as an independent nation) and Switzerland. It faced the Swiss 13 times as Yugoslavia, winning six (D5 L2).
- Switzerland has lost just one of its last 23 matches (W16 D6), a 2-0 defeat to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier in October 2017.
- Steven Zuber has been involved in six goals in his last six international starts for Switzerland (four goals, two assists).
- Branislav Ivanovic broke Dejan Stankovic's record for appearances for Serbia in its opening match against Costa Rica — he now has 104 caps.

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