Liverpool welcome Red Star Belgrade to Anfield tonight in a European fixture steeped in history, royalty and pedigree.
Red Star, or Crvena Zvezda as they otherwise known, may be cannon fodder to the European giants of modern football but there was a time when they too were considered giants of the game.
Zvezda are the only Serbian club to have won the European Cup, after beating Marseille on penalties in Bari in 1991.
Add this to the 28 leagues and 24 domestic cups that Red Star have won in their 73-year history and this is a club with real pedigree on a domestic and European front.
However, since winning the competition, and since it’s been known as the Champions League, Red Star have failed to make it past the group stage of the competition. One of Serbia’s biggest clubs may qualify for the competition near enough every season, but they have not progressed beyond anything other than the whipping boys of the group in the majority of their campaigns since that night in Italy at the start of the 90’s.
SERBISN SUPERLIGA DOMINANCE
It’s likely to be another highly successful season on the domestic front for Red Star, and one which could well bring them title no.29.
They are currently top of the Serbian SuperLiga, having won 11 of their 12 games so far this season, drawing the other. It has seen them manage to obtain a seven-point gap on second place in the table and produce a sizeable nine-point gap on their city rivals, Partizan.
This run has involved a thumping 6-0 win at home to Radnik Surdulica while also stopping Partizan gain any points over them in a 1-1 draw away from home in September.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE STRUGGLES
Their first game in the group stage of the competition this year actually suggested there could be optimism for Zvezda fans as they pulled off a highly respectable 0-0 draw at home to Napoli, who beat The Reds last time out.
It was a stern defensive performance that frustrated Carlo Ancelotti’s men in Belgrade and could offer a preview into what Klopp’s men can expect in the two upcoming fixtures against Vladan Milojevic’s side.
The same approach didn’t work last time out, as a Neymar inspired PSG side put the Serbians to the sword, running out 6-1 winners in Paris.
If the Reds have any true ambitions to progress in the competition this year, then they need to be taking 6 points from the double-header with Red Star. With the return fixtures against PSG and Napoli to follow it could be highly detrimental if Liverpool drop any points in the next two fixtures.
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