KALININGRAD, Russia (Reuters) - Serbia are prepared for a “hellish” game against Switzerland, said Nemanja Matic on Thursday — but the midfield talisman knows it would be nothing compared to the World Cup nightmare that would await them should they lose the Group E clash.
Following a win over Costa Rica in their opener, Serbia can clinch their knockout round place by beating the Swiss on Friday.
This would then spare them the terrifying prospect of needing a result in the their final group match against five-time world champions Brazil.
“Of course we are aware of the fact that if we win we will have progressed from the group and of course we will do our best for that to happen but you know we are facing a very good team,” said Matic.
“The Swiss team will also try to be a threat to win three points. They have a lot of quality and we respect them.
“They have qualities throughout their squad, excellent individual players and team spirit.
“We expect a hellish game but we are going to be ready for anything.”
Serbia, who embrace a physical style of play, promise to bring familiar aggression to the match, led by their Manchester United enforcer Matic.
The industrious Swiss will also not shy away from a tough confrontation but their coach Vladimir Petkovic indicated his team will depend just as much on pace as tenacious tackling to get the job done.
Either way, Serbia are going to stick to their strengths and game plan.
“We are not going to give up our system and style of play,” declared Mladen Krstajic, the Serbian coach. “I guarantee the players will be at the top of their game and they are going to play with responsibility to give their all.
“They will be aggressive and on top of their game.”
Serbia will also have the advantage of playing what amounts to a home game in what is forecast to be testing rainy and windy conditions.
The only team based in this Russian enclave, Serbia have set up home base at the nearby resort town of Svetlogorsk while the Swiss made a long flight from their headquarters two time zones away in Togliatti.
“We expect wind, rain, we are use to all kinds of weather in Serbia,” shrugged Krstajic. “It’s perfect our base camp. It comes out of a fairytale.”
Editing by Ian Chadband