Slavia Praha - Crvena Zvezda

Slavia finally broke the domination of biggest rival Sparta and won a title in Czech championship. They were especially impressive at home ground where won 12 from 15 games with three draws! But, at the start of European campaign they face a real disaster against Moldavian side Sheriff. After a goalless draw in the first encounter, in re-match in Praha, Slavia had a 1-0 lead through the most of the game, but conceded goal deep in the stoppage time and finished appearance in the Champions League! Domain competition also started badly with one defeat and two draws. But, in the last two rounds Slavia made two wins in a row (Bohemians Praha, 3-1 at home and Budejovice, 1-0 away) and it seems players returned their self-confidence. They will surely need it, because the next match is probably the game of the season. Elimination from Europa League is something that nobody in the club want to think about. The main problem is they have many new players in the team in simply need some time to become an entirety. It was obvious against Budejovice when Slavia made just a single decent goal chance (and scored from it). However, Crvena Zvezda shouldn’t be too high obstacle, but all in the club is well aware about the hell atmosphere in Belgrade (even have been stating how they afraid of it!) and will desperately looking for a win with two goals difference at least. Boss Karel Jarolim has a headache about goalkeepers. New signing Denis Romanovs has a 4 euro matches ban, his replacement Vaniak (38 years old) already made some big errors in first league game and third choice is young Hanus (21 years old). 

Crvena Zvezda again got the new management and many players with high contracts left the club before the season start. President Lukic take every opportunity to state this team is cheapest in the history (my personal opinion is the worst at the same time). The team leaders are Ninkov (defender), guy with the bright future –Aval Issah (defensive midfielder) and ex international Lazetic (right winger). Other who deserves to be mentioned is young striker Perovic. Boss is Vladimir Petrovic, one of the five best players in the club’s history (officially) and his main quality is to motivate players till the limits of fanaticism. However, season started unexpectedly good for the club. In the first round, Zvezda eliminated Slovenian Rudar (1-0 away and 4-0 home). In the second, against Dinamo Tbilisi, first 0-2 defeat on the road, then one of the most interesting games ever seen. In re-match, Dinamo had 1-0 and 2-1 lead, but Zvezda leading with the noise from the crowd scored four times for 5-2 at the end! Petrovic, beside high motivation skills, also has an old-fashioned view on the game. Against both opponents, Zvezda played with three defensive midfielders(!) and right winger in the midfield! All five goals against Dinamo, team scored after the actions on right side and all four goals conceded after big defensive errors! So, I guess problem will be when Zvezda face serious club (like Slavia, for example) who will know how to use it. Team morale which is very high, additionally has been raised with president’s promise, in case of progress every player will be rewarded with, for club’s conditions, enormous 20 000 euros!

Home side will surely attack and won’t be satisfied with a win by just one goal difference, but also their young goalie will have a debut for the first team. Zvezda will have support of 1500-2000 fans, surely have the courage for fight and can score. For me, Slavia is a favorite here, but see goals on both sides. Pinnacle offer 2.25. Over.
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