Ivanovic admits to nerves
Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic admits the nerves are jangling in the Serbia camp ahead of their World Cup opener against Ghana on Sunday. Ivanovic also acknowledged it was a major plus for his side that they will not have to face his Chelsea team-mate Michael Essien in the Group D showdown, a player he rates as one of the top midfielders on the planet. Speaking about the mood amongst the Serbia players as they prepare to play their first World Cup as an independent nation, Ivanovic said: "It's the normal thing, we're feeling a little bit nervous before the start of the World Cup because for every player it's very important to play at the World Cup. "We're feeling nervous but we're positive and I think we're ready." When asked how important psychologically it is to start with a good performance and if he would settle for a draw in their opening game, the 26-year-old added: "I will be happy if we play like we did in qualification. The most important thing for everyone is that we are ready for the World Cup." Serbia finished above 1998 world champions and 2006 runners-up France at the top of Group Seven in qualifying, during which time they collected 22 points and conceded just eight goals in 10 games. The chances of Radomir Antic's side building on that fine showing with a victory over Ghana at Loftus Versfeld stadium on Sunday have been boosted by the absence of Essien from the Ghana squad. Essien was ruled out of the tournament last month due to the knee and ankle injuries that saw him barely play any competitive football since December. Ivanovic said of Essien: "Mike is a fantastic player, and it's very difficult for him because he has two big injuries and he cannot take a risk but for us it's good of course that he can't play. For me I think he's one of the best midfielders in the world."
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