It’s been exactly 10 years since Crvena Zvezda last played in the Europa League group stages and they now have a chance to end the barren run after the 3-2 defeat in Russia.
FK Krasnodar should have probably won by a bigger margin, but they now face a difficult task in front of the packed Rajko Mitic stadium and 50,000 passionate fans.
Crvena Zvezda have had virtually no success in Europe over the last decade or so, albeit missing several good opportunities to reach the EL group stages.
However, the club did well to recruit talented coach Vladan Milojevic and also quality players such as Savic, Stojkovic, Pesic, Babic, Rodic, Radonjic, Borjan and Jovicic, which made all the difference.
The new boss was able to quickly rebuild the squad and get them playing with a lot of character and passion, and that is the main reason why Crvena Zvezda are still in the competition.
Following an impressive 3-0 aggregate win over Sparta Prague, the Serbian giants twice came from two goals behind to earn a 3-2 defeat at Krasnodar and can now be backed at 29/20 to win the return leg.
Key midfielder Branko Jovicic continues to miss out through injury, whereas Damian Le Tallec is banned and Milan Rodic has failed to recover in time.
Marko Gobeljic is, therefore, expected to start alongside Mitchell Donald in the middle of the park, while in-form striker Aleksandar Pesic will wait for his chance on the bench.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Borjan – Stojkovic, Savic, Babic, Andjelkovic – Donald, Gobeljic – Srnic, Kanga, Radonjic – Boakye.
Despite being only established in 2008, FK Krasnodar are one of the healthiest and best run clubs in the whole of Europe.
They’ve got an amazing football academy with over 12,000 players, high-end training facilities and new stadium, while their latest results have been pretty impressive.
FK Krasnodar finished the previous league campaign in fourth place, leaving sides like Rubin Kazan and Lokomotiv Moscow trailing in their wake, before they further reinforced their ranks.
In came Renat Yanbaev, Wanderson, Mihajlo Ristic, Roman Shishkin and Andrei Ivan, while key striker Fedor Smolov remained despite heavy interest in his services.
As a result, FK Krasnodar eased off to a 5-2 aggregate win over Lyngby and also dominated the first leg against Crvena Zvezda, but eventually had to settle for a 3-2 win after having Mihajlo Ristic’s goal wrongfully disallowed.
The former Crvena Zvezda midfielder has been ruled out of the return leg through injury, while Fedor Smolov continued to build fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Sinitsin – Petrov, Granqvist, Martynovich, Ramirez – Mamaev, Gazinskiy, Zhigulev – Claesson, Ignatyev, Wanderson.