The Three Lions get their Euro 2024 campaign started in Gelsenkirchen. We look ahead to the game with our Serbia vs England prediction and preview.

Serbia vs England Stats: The Key Insights

  • The Opta supercomputer makes England strong favourites to open their Group C campaign with three points, giving them a 61.3% chance of beating Serbia.
  • Penalty shootouts excluded, England have only lost one of their last 18 games at the Euros (10 wins, seven draws), going down to Iceland at Euro 2016.
  • No European player has bettered Harry Kane’s tally of 12 goals across the last three major tournaments (2018 World Cup, Euro 2020 and 2022 World Cup). Only France star Kylian Mbappé has matched that return.

Looking to end 58 years of hurt, England get their Euro 2024 campaign started against Serbia on Sunday, with manager Gareth Southgate suggesting it may be a case of all or nothing as he enters his fourth – and potentially final – major tournament at the helm.

Southgate has transformed England from perennial underachievers to genuine contenders, overseeing a surprise fourth-place finish at the 2018 World Cup, before the nation’s old nemesis – the penalty spot – haunted them in the Euro 2020 final versus Italy and a 2022 World Cup quarter-final against France.

Penalty shootouts excluded, the Three Lions have only lost one of their last 18 games at the Euros (10 wins, seven draws), going down by a 2-1 scoreline in an infamous last-16 clash with Iceland in 2016.

Although the same opponents inflicted another defeat upon England in their final pre-Euros friendly last week, the Opta supercomputer makes them tournament favourites. They went all the way in 19.9% of the 10,000 simulations, just ahead of France (19.1%).

If they are to lift the trophy, England will surely need Harry Kane to deliver in his new adopted home after he saw a 44-goal debut season with Bayern Munich go unrewarded in terms of silverware.

It’s unlikely he’ll struggle with that expectation. After all, Kane has scored 12 goals across the last three major international tournaments, netting six at the 2018 World Cup, four at Euro 2020 and two at the 2022 World Cup. No European player has bettered that tally, with only Kylian Mbappé matching it.

Kane is among the tournament’s most reliable goalscorers and will fancy his chances of a Golden Boot push, particularly with support coming from Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka. However, Southgate has a few problems to solve elsewhere.

With Harry Maguire sidelined by a calf injury and Luke Shaw not yet ready to feature after recovering from a hamstring issue, Southgate will be forced to field an unfamiliar backline on Sunday. Crystal Palace’s Marc Guéhi has plenty of admirers, but a Serbia team who scored one third of their goals in qualifying via headers (five of 15, the highest percentage of any team to reach Germany) will look to take advantage of his makeshift partnership with John Stones.

The other major question mark concerns Declan Rice’s midfield partner. Kobbie Mainoo looked to be in pole position at the end of the season, but reports now suggest Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold – who will don the number eight shirt – will start as first choice.  

Alexander-Arnold has played a total of 25,078 minutes of competitive football for Liverpool, but only 1% of those have come in central midfield, so playing the position at a major tournament could represent something of a baptism of fire.

However, Alexander-Arnold – who is accustomed to inverting into central areas at club level – should prove a useful asset as England look to break down low blocks. He ranked eighth among outfielders for accurate long balls (147) in the Premier League this season and third for switches of play (32). Getting the likes of Foden and Saka isolated against their markers will be key against a Serbia team generally favouring a compact 3-5-2.

Furthermore, England have ranked first or joint-first for goals from set-pieces at every tournament under Southgate (six at WC 2018, three at Euro 2020, two at WC 2022). Since his Premier League debut in December 2016, Alexander-Arnold leads all players for set-play assists (20) and ranks joint-third for chances created from such scenarios (184). His dead-ball prowess could put England on the right side of the fine margins.

Opponents Serbia are making their first Euros appearance as an independent nation, having competed as Yugoslavia and FR Yugoslavia at five previous editions, finishing as runners-up in 1960 and 1968.

Their current head coach Dragan Stojkovic has made the most Euros appearances of any Serbian player, the former midfielder playing seven times at the 1984 and 2000 tournaments for Yugoslavia and scoring once.

His team finished as runners-up to Hungary in their qualifying group but have been tipped to spring some surprises in Group C. They have only managed five clean sheets in 25 competitive outings under Stojkovic, so attack will likely be their best form of defence.

With Dusan Tadic set to support Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic up top, Serbia have plenty of firepower. They have only failed to score in two of those competitive games under Stojkovic, against Norway (0-1 in the UEFA Nations League) and Brazil (0-2 at the Qatar World Cup).

Mitrovic – Serbia’s all-time leading scorer with 58 goals in 91 matches – still looks sharp despite swapping the Premier League for the Saudi Pro League last year, plundering 28 goals in 28 league games for Al-Hilal in 2023-24. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, with 35 strikes in 31 matches, topped him in the scoring charts.

If England cannot replicate the solidity they showed at past tournaments under Southgate, Serbia have strikers capable of punishing them.

Serbia vs England Head-to-Head

This will be England and Serbia’s first encounter since the latter re-emerged as an independent state in 2006. In fact, since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, England only faced Serbia and Montenegro once, winning 2-1 in a friendly back in 2003.

The Three Lions are, though, unbeaten in their last six matches against Serbia or Yugoslavia, winning each of the last four.

Their most recent defeat to them was a particularly notable one, though, as Sir Alf Ramsey’s world champions lost 2-1 in the semi-finals of Euro 1968, a four-team competition.

Serbia vs England Prediction

England have started all three of their major tournaments under Southgate with a victory, and the Opta supercomputer is backing them to do so again in Germany.

They are given a 61.3% chance of a win, with Serbia only triumphing in 16.5% of scenarios and the spoils being shared in 22.2%.

In our Group C predictions, the Three Lions are given a huge 95.4% chance of reaching the last 16, finishing top in 67.2% of simulations. Serbia advance in 56.2% of projections, fewer than Denmark (69.2%) but more than Slovenia (42.1%).

Serbia vs England Squads


Djordje Petrovic, Predrag Rajkovic, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Filip Mladenovic, Milos Veljkovic, Nemanja Stojic, Nikola Milenkovic, Srdjan Babic, Strahinja Pavlovic, Uros Spajic, Filip Kostic, Ivan Ilic, Lazar Samardzic, Mijat Gacinovic, Nemanja Gudelj, Nemanja Maksimovic, Sasa Lukic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Srdjan Mijailovic, Veljko Birmancevic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Andrija Zivkovic, Dusan Tadic, Dusan Vlahovic, Luka Jovic, Petar Ratkov.

Head coach: Dragan Stojković


Aaron Ramsdale, Dean Henderson, Jordan Pickford, Ezri Konsa, Joe Gomez, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Lewis Dunk, Luke Shaw, Marc Guéhi, Adam Wharton, Conor Gallagher, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Kobbie Mainoo, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Anthony Gordon, Bukayo Saka, Cole Palmer, Eberechi Eze, Harry Kane, Ivan Toney, Jarrod Bowen, Ollie Watkins, Phil Foden.

Head coach: Gareth Southgate

Serbia vs England Predicted Lineups

Serbia Predicted Lineup vs England
England Predicted Lineup vs Serbia

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