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Soccer-Backs to the wall but Serbia confident, says midfielder Birmancevic

By Thomson Reuters Jun 23, 2024 | 10:46 AM

(Reuters) – Serbia have their backs against the wall but are confident of the win they require against Denmark to reach the last 16 at Euro 2024, midfielder Veljko Birmancevic said on Sunday.

Dragan Stojkovic’s side have one point from their opening two games to sit bottom of Group C and, while a draw could mathematically prove enough to stay in the tournament, they want to leave nothing to chance in Munich.

“We have no options for comfort, we have reached the wall,” Stojkovic said in a press conference at the team’s training base in Augsburg. “There is no going back and we can only go forward. If you want to move forward, you have to win.”

They pushed England hard in their opening 1-0 loss and then grabbed a stoppage-time equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Slovenia but are in danger of an early exit in their first Euros since 2000, when Serbia & Montenegro were still joined in a republic.

“Everyone is ready to give 100%. We learned a lot from these two games, we are ready to give everything for Serbia and for the fans who came to support us,” Birmancevic, who has made two substitute appearances in the tournament, said.

Asked about the complexities of a group in which all sorts of permutations are still possible, he added that it was simple.

“You can never go for a point in life. In life you always have to look to win. Winners go for victory. When you calculate in life you will always lose,” the Sparta Prague player said.

“I don’t think there’s a player who does not think that we should make a step forward to pass the group stage.

“Against Slovenia it could have been 2-0 or 3-0. Now we have to show our character but since I know what kind of group we are, I believe we can do it.”

Birmancevic also said that every player had to take personal responsibility for ensuring Serbia win.

“I think the most important thing in football is for each player to stand in front of the mirror and say, ‘You are the most important'”, he added.

“When we do that, then we’ll get the result. Responsibility always exists. You have to do everything you can, you can’t rely on someone else.

“We’re aware of our responsibility, we’re going to win on Tuesday.”

England lead the group with four points ahead of Denmark and Slovenia who both have two.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)