by Josh Green
After years of wars and violence, Yugoslavia was finally renamed on the 4th of February 2003, as Serbia and Montenegro, both in a political sense and also in the footballing world. Yugoslavia’s last competitive match, in 1991 against Austria, was a Euro’92 qualifier. Yugoslavia won 2-0.
The countries that were part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and played football together were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and last but not least Slovenia. Croatia are currently the highest ranked by FIFA, at 11th in the World. When these countries played together under the name of Yugoslavia they were nicknamed “The Brazilians of Europe”.
So that was then and this is now. I thought it would be interesting to see what sort of team the former “Brazilians of Europe” could field nowadays.
Here is a list of possible players to make up a present day Yugoslavian team, many of whom you will be very familiar with.
Samir Handanovic – Current Inter Milan and Slovenian number 1.
Asmir Begovic – Current Stoke City and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s number 1.
Nemanja Vidic –Centre-back for Manchester United and Serbia.
Banislav Ivanovic – Centre-back or right-back for Chelsea and Serbia.
Neven Subotic – Centre-back for Borussia Dortmund and Serbia.
Emir Spahic – Centre-back for Sevilla and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Vedran Corluka – Centre-back and right-back for Lokomotiv Moscow and Croatia.
Matija Nastasic – Centre-back for Manchester City and Serbia.
Alexsander Kolarov – Left-back for Manchester City and Serbia.
Darijo Srna – Right-back and right midfield for Shakhtar Donetsk and Croatia.
Luka Modric – Centre-midfielder for Real Madrid and Croatia.
Miralem Pjanic – Attacking midfielder for Roma and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Stevan Jovetic – Attacking midfielder, winger and second striker for Fiorentina and Montenegro.
Ivan Rakitic – Centre-midfielder for Sevilla and Croatia.
Zvjezdan Misimović – Attacking midfielder for Dynamo Moscow and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Zoran Tosic – Attacking midfielder or winger for CSKA Moscow and Serbia.
Niko Kranjcar – Attacking midfielder or winger for Dyanmo Kyiv and Croatia.
Edin Dzeko – Striker for Manchester City and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mario Mandzukic – Striker for Bayern Munich and Croatia.
Mirko Vucinic – Striker for Juventus and Montenegro.
Nikica Jelavic – Striker for Everton and Croatia.
It’s all well and good being able to list a wealth of talent, but would these players be able to play together in a balanced formation?
This is the formation and personnel I believe is the strongest available. A mix of brute strength and power, with the likes of Dzeko and Mandzukic, mixed with the flair and elegance of Modric, Pjanic and Jovetic. Backed up with a marble hard back four, this would be one of the strongest teams on the international stage today. This team would be supported by a very capable bench, with all positions covered.
A secret star
Although born in Malmo, Sweden, superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a Bosnian father and a Croatian mother and was once in the running to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Amidst the rumours of Ibrahimovic being in a Bosnian B team but pulling out due to not being picked for the A team, there are a number of theories why the striker didn’t end up playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina. I suspect many ‘yugo-nostalgics’ will ponder on the fact they could have had man who has won the League with all five of the teams he has played for in his club career.
So it seems obvious that if these players were still playing together under the name of Yugoslavia they would still be one of the best teams in the world. However the teams that the separation of Yugoslavia gave birth to are all very competitive footballing nations and will write their own history in the name of the proud independent nations they now are.
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