Best 11: Vojvodina (2011-20)

The 10s brought FK Vojvodina Novi Sad their biggest success in their long and storied history, namely two cup wins. In the league, until three seasons ago, Vojvodina were one of the most stable Serbian sides. Known for usually lagging behind the big two and for producing lots of quality players. Think of the likes of Dušan Tadić and Sergej Milinković-Savić. However, 2018 and 2019 were disastrous for the club from Novi Sad. Two consecutive 8th place finishes after having been a top four side six years in a row. The club did however recover a year later, with a new third placed finish and one of the two cup wins. 

The formation

When selecting their best 11 you immediately notice the lack of quality fullbacks and lack of top strikers. In central midfield, however – both defensive and attacking –  there was plenty of depth. This made me pick a 3-4-2-1 formation. Gaćinović as right wing back is no natural, but he’s played there before. Radoja as stationary pivot would compensate for his limited defensive awareness. On the other end, Nastić is a more defensive fullback with limited offensive capabilities, offset by Sergej Milinković-Savić’s offensive mindset. Sergej plays the same role for the national team right now.

Goalkeeper:

Vanja Milinković-Savić (24) | GK | Torino | Serbia: 1/0 | Highest worth 4,5M | Rating: 7

Like his older brother, Sergej, Vanja came through the Vojvodina youth academy. He only played 19 games for the club, conceding 22 goals, before Man Utd snatched him up. Never did make it in England and was searching for the right club until he arrived in Turin. There he has become their number one and has even made his debut for the national team recently. He’s still young for a goalkeeper, so I expect him to improve and reach a 7,5 rating in the future.

Defence:

Lazar Rosić (28) | CB | Moreirense | Serbia U20: 3/0 | 1,25M | 6

Only spent one season at the club (28 games) after joining from Radnički Kragujevac, his hometown team. But made such an impression that Braga signed him after that season. He’s been in Portugal ever since. Not a spectacular defender, but he does the job. So far he’s played 115 league games on the highest level in Portugal. 

Srdjan Babić (25) | CB | Almeria (loan) | Serbia U21: 6/1 | 1,75M | 6

Originally from Banja Luka, he joined Vojvodina when he was just 15. Played 38 games, during which he won the U20 World Cup with Serbia. Right after, he joined Real Sociedad, before coming back to Red Star Belgrade. In Belgrade, he’s never been able to cement that starting spot and has thus been sent out on loan two seasons in a row. He’s a starter at Almeria now, who are in second place in the LaLiga2. One other thing, Babić is a Serb from Bosnia, and they’re doing their best to persuade him to join their national team.

Jagoš Vuković (33) | CB | Qingdao | Serbia: 8/0 | 3,2M | 6

One of many Serbian players who made a quick rise to fame, only to fall off just as quickly. Vuković’s best period was at Rad Beograd, where he earned himself a transfer to PSV. He was known for his excellent left foot, often used in build-up play. His mentality however was poor, which ultimately led to his early decline. He joined Vojvodina after PSV, only played 12 games, before moving on to Turkey. 

Wingbacks:

Mijat Gaćinović (27) | CM/CAM/RW/RWB | Panathinaikos (loan) | Serbia: 23/2 | 11M | 7

Like Babić he joined Vojvodina as a 15-year-old from the Serbian republic. Gaćinović was part of the U19 squad that won the European Championship. He later joined Eintracht Frankfurt and had a very promising start in the Bundesliga. Also became part of the Serbian national team and did well. As the years passed, however, his career has been in decline. First at Frankfurt and recently at Hoffenheim. He’s loaned out to Panathinaikos now and still has time to regain that old form. Part of his problem in my opinion is his versatility, which is usually a great thing, unless people forget what your best position really is. 

Bojan Nastić (27) | LB | Jagiellonia | Bosnia: 5/0 | 1,5M | 5,5

If there’s one trend to be spotted here, it’s Vojvodina’s connection with Bosnian Serbs. Nastić is a product of Vojvodina’s youth academy and actually played quite a few games for them. When he left to join Genk, he had already played 105 games for the club. His career in Belgium was decent, but nothing more than that, and nowadays he plays his football in Poland. Nastić was part of the Serbian youth teams, but switched to Bosnia in recent years.

Central midfield:

Nemanja Radoja (29) | CDM | Levante | Serbia: 2/0 | 8M | 7

Another Vojvodina’s youth product. Played 69 games for the club, before joining Celta de Vigo. Radoja is a player who flew under the radar in Serbia. Always a solid defensive midfielder and even had a phase when he was one of the higher rated ones in La Liga. Despite that, he never got a real chance for the national team. Nowadays, he’s a substitute at Levante and is linked to Red Star for the summer of 2022, when his contract runs out.

Sergej Milinković-Savić (26) | CM | Lazio | Serbia: 28/5 | 90M | 8,5

The greatest player Vojvodina produced during this last decade. Integral part of Serbia’s U19 Euro winning squad and U20 World Cup winning team. Only played 16 times for Vojvodina before being bought by Genk. After Genk came Lazio and the rest is history. In my opinion, Sergej is a world-class midfielder, but to get that final bit of international recognition, he’ll need to move to a bigger club. Hopefully he does so next summer, as he’s about to hit his prime. 

Attacking midfield:

Aleksandar Katai (31) | LW/RW/CAM | Crvena zvezda | Serbia: 10/0 | 4,5M | 7

El Magico, as he’s called in Serbia. Yet another player who came through Vojvodina’s youth academy. A natural footballer, who most likely could’ve had a better international career, but is adored in Belgrade, where he’s one of Red Star’s key players. Played 70 games for Vojvodina before starting an international adventure that led him to Spain, Greece and the US. Returned to Serbia after some controversy, started by his wife, in LA. Red Star fans are grateful to her for it.

Mirko Ivanić (28) | CAM/LW | Crvena zvezda | Montenegro: 15/1 | 7M | 7

No surprise that he too came through the Vojvodina youth academy. A talented attacking midfielder who also went under the radar a bit, joined BATE Borisov and eventually wound up back in Serbia, at Red Star. There, he forms a deadly duo with Aleksandar Katai and is considered a key player. Ivanić played 73 games for Vojvodina, scoring 23 times and assisting 11 goals. He’s born and raised in Serbia, but decided to play for Montenegro after he believed he’d never get the call-up. His national team career ended after some controversy, and many people in Serbia regret the fact that he doesn’t play for us.

Attack:

Aboubakar Oumarou (35) | ST | No club | Cameroon: 2/0 | 2M | 5,5

A cult hero in Serbia. A player who played for five different Serbian teams, including Red Star AND Partizan. Nowhere did he leave his mark quite as much as he did in Novi Sad, however. Played in 111 games for the club, scoring 44 times and assisting 22 more goals. Tried his luck in Belgium, China & Saudi Arabia, but without much success.

Average rating: 6,6

Average prime worth: 12,6M

Average number of caps: 8,5

Total transfer income: 9,23M

Final thoughts

Could this team challenge for the title in Serbia? I believe they could. That double pivot, with the two attacking midfielders, would be a threat to any Serbian side, including the big two. Obviously, Oumarou’s best days are behind him, but maybe some back-up option could work. Think of Petar Škuletić. The defence is solid enough. In Europe, they could probably get to the group stages of the Europa League and probably sneak into the knock-outs. As with OFK Beograd, it’s impressive to see how many good players the Vojvodina youth academy has produced. Hopefully that continues.

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