Despite playing his part in what he believed to be a positive showing at the 2018 World Cup, Luka Milivojevic was filled with regret in the aftermath of Serbia’s exit from the tournament.
The Palace midfielder watched on from the bench as his team were beaten 2-0 by Brazil in their final group game to end their hopes of lifting the trophy in Russia next month, but Milivojevic believes that the damage was done in their previous match when Xherdan Shaqiri’s last-minute winner ultimately sent Switzerland through at the expense of Serbia.
Reflecting on his side’s elimination, Milivojevic said: “It’s very hard when you have one game that you have to win against Brazil, but I think the dropped point against Switzerland costs us the chance to go through to the next round.
“I think we should have gone through if we had been a bit smarter, especially in the second game when we dropped a point. I cannot say I’m disappointed, I am satisfied with how my team played in the three games, and here all the national teams are very good and in the end we are the team that are going home.
“The first 10-15 minutes of the second half tonight was very good and we almost scored a goal, but you know that when you play against a team like Brazil they don’t give you a lot of chances. They’re composed on the ball, they create a lot and they have a lot of quality players with plenty of skills, and they deserve to go through to the next round.”
Despite leaving Russia at the earliest opportunity, Milivojevic was pleased with his nation’s showing in their first World Cup since 2010. The Eagles man played the full 90 minutes in the win against Costa Rica, and left the action nine minutes from time against Switzerland before Shaqiri struck.
“We can take a lot of positives,” he added. “We played OK in three games – we had a good beginning to the tournament, in the second game where we should take a point and then we’ve played well against one of the best national teams in the world. I think that’s positive.
“We were hoping that maybe one more shock could happen today but that didn’t happen. It was a great experience for me.”
Now forced to watch the World Cup from afar, Milivojevic will be keeping an eye on England’s progress and revealed that he believes they could be a dark horse to finally end 52 years of hurt.
“I watched them play against Costa Rica before the tournament because they were in our group, and I saw a very good tactical game from England,” Luka said. “They had good ball movement with all the players composed on the ball, playing three at the back and a lot of speed up front.
“For me, England can be a real surprise in this tournament, and I wish them luck to go further.”