Nemanja Matic is likely to be the bedrock of any success Serbia can achieve this summer in Russia.

He is the archetypal defensive midfielder, often sacrificing personal gain for the greater good of the team.

The 29-year-old won’t grab the headlines for defence splitting passes or stunning goals too often, but his workrate and desire will routinely be the platform on which the creative forces around him are allowed to flourish.

Matic took some time to find his feet after earning move to Chelsea in 2009. He would leave Stamford Bridge two years later for Benfica, having failed to make an impact.

In Portugal, he began to really establish himself and was a title winner with Benfica in 2013/14.

His form convinced Chelsea to bring him back to London, and the Blues were rewarded with two Premier League titles in three years, Matic being at the forefront in those successes, doing the simple things well.

Plenty eyebrows were raised last summer when Matic was allowed to leave the club and join direct rivals Manchester United, linking up with former boss Jose Mourinho once more as he did.

The 29-year-old has been typically effective this season for the Red Devils and will be vital to Serbia as they potentially joust with Switzerland and Costa Rica for a last-16 place alongside Brazil, one of the pre-tournament favourite at 6.00.

Matic does not score many goals for his country, but when he does pop up they tend be in tense, vital games.

His two competitive strikes have come in Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018 away qualifiers in Portugal and Austria, both goals having drawn his country level (though they ultimately lost both games).

The tackling and ground-covering of Matic is going to be a key trait for Serbia this summer, as will his ability to bridge this play from defence into attack.

Serbia are 2.05 to win their opening game against Costa Rica on June 17. The 2014 quarter-finalists are 3.60 to begin with a victory, while the draw is 3.30.

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