FPJ's dream XI predictions for Serbia and Switzerland; Live Blog

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

The Arsenal midfielder, who renewed his contract at the club last week, fired home a stunner to level for Switzerland against Serbia. Xhaka's parents are originally from Kosovo and they are of Albanian heritage.

Serbia's players did not react to the eagle gestures at Kaliningrad Stadium.

That is because several players in the Swiss squad have Kosovo Albanian roots, including midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.

With the match heading for a 1-1 draw, Xherdan Shaqiri raced through on goal in the closing stages of the match and squeezed home a decisive victor, leaving the Swiss just one win away - against a fragile Costa Rica side - from the knock-out stages. His family, like Shaqiri's, hail from Kosovo, whose independence is not recognised by Serbia for historic reasons.

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One sub-plot to watch out for could be the Serbian fans' treatment of Switzerland's three players with links to Kosovo.

And Serbia head coach Mladen Krstajic is braced for a hard encounter, telling Swiss newspaper Blick: "They are very strong!" A neatly placed pass found Seferovic on the move and one-on-one lead to a great save from Serbia shot stopper Vladimir Stojkovic, one of the few moments in the first half where the Serbian defence appeared to switch off. The Serbia forward amassed four shots against Costa Rica without scoring, having netted five goals in as many worldwide appearances in 2018.

Coach Vladimir Petkovic brought on attackers Breel Embolo and Mario Gavranovic in a bid to force a victor, and Gavranovic forced a smart save from Stojkovic from a close range effort with 10 minutes remaining. Mitrovic came close in the 19th minute when he controlled a cross from Branislav Ivanovic on his chest and sent a bicycle kick over the bar.

Switzerland came right back into the game seven minutes after halftime thanks to Xhaka's fulminating strike after a rebound fell nicely into his path.

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Matic said during the build-up the team were expecting a "hellish" encounter with the Swiss, who in their game with Brazil fouled star forward Neymar 10 times alone.

Tensions have been building in Serbia before the Group E match Friday in Kaliningrad.

Switzerland snatched a last-gasp victor against Switzerland on Friday night, Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri keeping their dream of qualifying well and truly alive.

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