Five Serbia players to watch against England

Serbia's team line-up before the Euro 2024 qualifying match against Bulgaria on 19 November 2023
Euro 2024 is Serbia's first European Championship as an independent nation [Getty Images]

It's finally here!

England begin their Euro 2024 campaign when they face Serbia at 20:00 BST in their opening Group C match in Gelsenkirchen - a game you can watch live on BBC One.

Ranked 33rd in the world - 29 places below the Three Lions - Serbia squeezed through qualifying after finishing runners-up to Hungary in a group that also contained Montenegro, Lithuania and Bulgaria.

Who are the players looking to upset Gareth Southgate's team?

BBC Sport looks at five members of Serbia's squad who could play a key part.

Vanja Milinkovic-Savic - the keeper who signed for Man Utd

Vanja Milinkovic-Savic poses before the start of Euro 2024

An experienced goalkeeper, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic has played club football in Serbia, Poland, Italy and Belgium.

The 27-year-old was signed by Manchester United at the age of 17 in 2014 but left after failing to obtain a work permit.

Having featured prominently in qualifying, he is expected to play against England, though there are some Serbia fans who would prefer to see Chelsea's Djordje Petrovic start.

Milinkovic-Savic helped Torino finish ninth in Serie A in 2023-24. He is the younger brother of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who spent eight years at Lazio and plays in midfield for Serbia.

Nikola Milenkovic - the vastly experienced defender

Serbia's Nikola Milenkovic pushes Switzerland's midfielder Switzerland's Granit Xhaka during a match at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
Nikola Milenkovic (left) played in all eight of Serbia's Euro 2024 qualifiers and had a passing accuracy of 90.63% [Getty Images]

A right-sided centre-back, Nikola Milenkovic is about to represent his country at a third major tournament.

The 26-year-old played alongside former Premier League players Nemanja Matic and Branislav Ivanovic at the 2018 World Cup, and also featured in Qatar four years later.

They led Cameroon 3-1 and Switzerland 2-1 at the 2022 tournament, before drawing 3-3 and losing 3-2 respectively.

The Eagles will hope Milenkovic's experience - he has spent seven years playing for Fiorentina in Serie A - will ensure they do not implode again on the big stage.

Dusan Tadic - the main man

Serbia's Dusan Tadic reacts during a Euro 2024 qualifier against Hungary
Dusan Tadic scored two goals and provided four assists in qualifying [Getty Images]

It's eight years since Dusan Tadic and Virgil van Dijk helped Southampton overcome Inter Milan in the Europa League on a memorable night at St Mary's Stadium.

At the age of 35, Tadic is still Serbia's main man and should captain his country against England.

He chipped in with a couple of goals in qualifying, and in March overtook Branislav Ivanovic as Serbia's most-capped player.

Tadic plays his club football in Turkey for Fenerbahce, who have just appointed Jose Mourinho as head coach.

Lazar Samardzic - the future star

Lazar Samardzic celebrates scoring for his club Udinese away to Salernitana in Serie A in August 2023
Lazar Samardzic started his career at Hertha Berlin [Getty Images]

Lazar Samardzic may not be an automatic starter, but he is definitely one to watch should he make an appearance.

The 22-year-old, who plays as an attacking midfielder or winger, was born in Berlin and represented Germany at various levels up to the under-21s.

He is seen as an eventual successor to Dusan Tadic as the creative and influential force on Serbia's national team.

Samardzic plays his club football in Italy for Udinese, with two of his six Serie A goals in 2023-24 coming in matches against AC Milan and Inter Milan.

More recently, Samardzic has been linked with both West Ham and Nottingham Forest.

Aleksandar Mitrovic - the goalscorer

 Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring against Montenegro in Euro 2024 qualifying
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored five goals in seven matches in qualifying and provided one assist [Getty Images]

Having played in the Premier League for Fulham and Newcastle United, Aleksandar Mitrovic will have extra motivation to make an impact against England.

The 29-year-old, who scored 38 times in 129 English top-flight appearances, is now playing in the Saudi Pro League.

Serbia's top scorer in qualifying with five goals, Mitrovic has an outstanding international record of 58 goals in 91 appearances for his country.

Known for his fighting spirit, his team-mates will be hoping he does not overstep the mark should he start ahead of Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic.