Serbia head to the World Cup with a young, fast, exciting team many are picking to upset Switzerland and finish second in their group behind Brazil, and Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic looks set to have a role to play for them.
After a hugely impressive loan on Cardiff during the second half of the 2017-18 season, Grujic was a surprise inclusion in the squad selected to head to Russia—and he has since seen minutes in Serbia’s two pre-World Cup friendlies.
“When I was a kid, every young player was dreaming about playing in the World Cup with the national team,” he said today. “So after we qualified, I was determined to fight and do whatever I needed to do to give myself a chance.”
He did that and more with Cardiff, as in 13 Championship appearances Grujic was key to their Premier League promotion as the Bluebirds narrowly edged Fulham to second and automatic promotion to England’s top flight.
Now, Russia, and a chance for Grujic to perhaps establish himself as his country’s long-term future in midfield as part of a new-look Serbia that is making a return to the world’s biggest tournament after a long time in the wilderness.
“There is a new coach and new expectations,” Grujic added. “We haven’t played well during the past four to eight years and have [missed] the major tournaments, which is why people stopped believing in the country’s national team.
“We qualified for a major tournament for the first time in eight years [and] now I can feel that the feeling is coming back among the fans and the people of Serbia.”