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Sloppy deflection goal for gent in the first half. Katai with a great free kick to make it 2-1 in the 59th minute
 

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Borjan with a huge save in the 93rd minute
 

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Zvezda held on, 2-1

Hoffenheim beat Slovan Liberec 5-0

Hoffenheim 9 pts
Zvezda 6 pts
Slovan 3 pts
Gent 0 pts
 

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Goaalllll 1 minute in

Njegos Petrovic blasted a shot from outside the penalty area
 
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Halftime 1-0
 

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Goalll!! Milunovic!! Header from a corner taken by Ben
 

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Game over 2-0

Hoffenheim is beating Slovan Liberec 2-0

Hoffenheim 12 pts
Zvezda 9 pts (+5 goal differential)
Slovan Liberec 3 pts (-10)
Gent 0 pts

Zvezda can lose both of their remaining games and still go through as the goal differential is too massive to make up!
 
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Seriously how good is Red Star going lately? So great to see at least our domestic football back to where it belongs.
 
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Zeko lopove...
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Discussion Starter #230
Seriously how good is Red Star going lately? So great to see at least our domestic football back to where it belongs.
The transformation Stankovic has made is nothing short of incredible. He has taken a very defensive minded squad, and made them think about how to play the ball out of the back. Is it Champions League quality football? No. But he has made Zvezda once again what we all wish for, a club that plays with flair and heart. The rebirth of Milan Gajic, Mirko Ivanic, and Njegos Petrovic is an indicator to me that he has the potential to become a serious manager. For perspective, when he took over, Ivanic was on the bench behind Marin and close to being sold. He is our top goalscorer this season. Gajic was behind Gobeljic and getting injured often. Now, these two players form some of our core, and I don't think that's a coincidence. Petrovic was good at first when Deki came, then took a step back, however he has been very good the last three games he has played (Zlatibor, Gent, Rad).

Also, as much as our management gets criticized for the poor transfer market activity last summer, which admittedly might have been our worst transfer window ever (Canas, Garcia, Tomane, Jander and Van la Parra are all gone 6-12 months after the came to the club) the club management has retained our best defensive spine in years. Borjan, Degenek, Milunovic, Rodic, Gobeljic and Pankov have given a foundation for Deki to build on, which to be frank hasn't been the case since the war. Most players in good form leave after one, two good seasons. The players named and Gajic have been with us pretty much since Milojevic was hired, which illustrates the power of continuity.

In addition, Deki has found the youth school again, and we see some progress being made on that front after the promotion of Andrija Radulovic and Strahinja Erakovic to the first team. Alongside Veljko Nikolic and Zeljko Gavric they are starting to get a lot of minutes, and this is something to be applauded. As much as I love Milojevic this is something we never had under his tenure, and it's refreshing to see Stankovic recognize that we need youth to sustain our future. To be fair to Milojevic though, we did establish the Graficar project under his leadership, and under his tenure had he continued we probably would have seen Nikolic and Gavric.

Overall, it's not been perfect, there have been growing pains, namely in the derbies and the qualification games, but you can see in the group stage of the Europa League as to how much we've grown as a team since Deki took over. I think in 1-2 transfer windows we will see how much of an impact he will make as he is still using some players that I don't think he necessarily wants to. He just has a lack of options for the football he wishes to play, and I think one more central midfielder and forward will be coming shortly.

The last two away games against Vojvodina and Gent have illustrated how good he is tactically in reading the opposition and taking away their main weapons. He took away the transition from Gent and Vojvodina with how we setup defensively. It was a master stroke of the highest quality, especially against Gent who was at full strength. The only player they had missing was Yaremchuk (one of their best forwards due to kovid-19). On the other side we were missing Rodic, Sanogo, Kanga and Katai, the latter two being our best creators.
 

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0-0 halftime vs Hoffenheim
 

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Finished 0-0, Zvezda officially go through to the round of 32
 
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Zeko lopove...
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Discussion Starter #233 (Edited)

We are playing against Slovan Liberec tomorrow in the Czech Republic. At first glance, the game seems to have little meaning given we've qualified for the round of 32, but any win in Europe is huge for our club and Serbian football in the long term. A win here would earn us two more coefficient points, and it would move us from 29.500 to the 31.500 mark. No Serbian club has been past a coefficient of 31.300 since the 1998-1999 season when the existing coefficient system came into place. You can see historical coefficient rankings here (UEFA 5-year Club Ranking 2021). You can scroll back by year in the upper left.

As the article above suggests, it's looking likely that we'll come out in our best line up that's available at the moment.

Borjan
Gajic Milunovic Degenek Rodic
Sanogo Petrovic
Ben Kanga Ivanic
Falcinelli

Subs: GK Popovic, GK Copic, Erakovic, Pankov, Gobeljic, Nikolic, Radulovic, Spirdionovic, Vukanovic, Simic, Boakye, Pavkov, Krstovic.

Given we've been playing a 3-4-2-1 system lately, it's a bit of a surprise, but I'm thinking Deki is thinking about the first game here where we played in a 4-2-3-1 formation when we won 5-1. Currently, the only players that are out are Zeljko Gavric (kovid-19) and Aleksandar Katai (injury). Everyone else is back and available.

My only concern is the lack of width with Ivanic and Ben on the 'wings' but let's see how we start. I only note this because in our first win against Slovan in Belgrade we had Katai in inspired form who provided a ton of width. Ivanic is a bit of a different player who plays better in Kanga's position.
 

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HT 0-0 vs Slovan Liberec. Ben hit the post late in the half
 

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Falcenelli gets a yellow card for spiking the ball into the net 😆🤦‍♂️
 
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Finished 0-0, uneventful game. Picked up some pointless yellow cards.

Hoffenheim 16 pts
Zvezda 11 pts
Slovan 7 pts
Gent 0 ptels
 
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Could we draw Dinamo Zagreb?
 

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Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Napoli, Leicester city, AC Milan, Bayer Leverkusen, Roma, Ajax, Villarreal, PSV Eindhoven, Club Brugge, Shakhtar Donetsk, Krasnodar, Dynamo zagreb and Rangers are Zvezdas potential opponents.
 

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Zeko lopove...
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Discussion Starter #239
Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Napoli, Leicester city, AC Milan, Bayer Leverkusen, Roma, Ajax, Villarreal, PSV Eindhoven, Club Brugge, Shakhtar Donetsk, Krasnodar, Dynamo zagreb and Rangers are Zvezdas potential opponents.
All correct except Krasnodar. We cannot face them.

England: Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Leicester City
Italy: AC Milan, Napoli, Roma
Holland: Ajax, PSV
Germany: Bayer Leverkusen (we cannot face Hoffenheim as they were in our group)
Spain: Villarreal
Belgium: Club Brugge
Ukraine: Shakhtar Donetsk
Croatia: Dinamo Zagreb
Scotland: Glasgow Rangers

My preferences: Rangers, Dinamo, Shakhtar, Brugge, and Roma.

We cannot beat any of the English teams. Their football is too quick over 90 minutes. Leverkusen is in inspired form. The Dutch are good as well. Ajax are not the same that they were 2 years ago, but they are still very good. Losing to Liverpool and Atalanta by 1-0 tells you enough.

In terms of teams I don't want to draw... those are Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, and Napoli.
 
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