Filip Djordjevic relaxed about Croatia cauldron

SERBIA’S Filip Djordjevic has no stage fright ahead of the biggest match of his career when the Balkan nation visit their bitter regional rivals Croatia in a World Cup Group A qualifier on Friday, said the 25-year-old striker.

Djordjevic, who plays for French second division side Nantes, is expected to lead the attack in Serbia’s 4-2-3-1 formation in the cauldron of Dinamo Zagreb’s Maksimir stadium, where the home fans are likely to create a hostile atmosphere. “I don’t care what they shout at us from the terraces because we don’t expect a red-carpet reception, and pundit assessments that Croatia are the favourites are doing us a favour by taking a lot of the pressure off,” he said.

Cutting a calm and composed figure in Serbia’s Stara Pazova training camp by the Belgrade-Novi Sad motorway in Vojvodina, Djordjevic said there was no tension within the squad as they prepare for the clash against Croatia and then a home match against Scotland on Tuesday. “We are not worried about our safety and we are preparing for this match like any other, although I know it’s the biggest game I’d have played for club or country if selected,” he said.

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Djordjevic has scored 52 league goals in 150 games for Nantes since joining them in 2008 after one season at 1991 European Cup winners Red Star Belgrade. He was also on target on his international debut last November, when Serbia beat Chile 3-1 in a friendly.

Serbia are third in the group with four points, six adrift of leaders Belgium and Croatia. Acknowledging that only a win in Zagreb would keep Serbia in the hunt for a berth in next year’s tournament, Djordjevic was confident he could match Croatia’s striker Mario Mandzukic, who has established himself as a starter at Bayern Munich. “Mandzukic is an outstanding player but his performance will largely depend on how Croatia’s midfield and defence cope with us and we will to do the best we can to thwart their raids,” he said.