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Ne oprastam
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No one would have ever predicted this :D I think most of the credit goes to 2 capable managers in Milojevic and Djukic.
 

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Discussion Starter #63

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It’s a shame that we can’t play Partizan in this next round. It’d be the only time this season that they’ll be able to fill their stadium in Europe. :D

To be fair I think they’ll be playing their next game behind closed doors after the Mladic banner vs Young Boys. They had one suspended game to serve.
 

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Zeko lopove...
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I love how Zoki starts these threads. :D

Had to come back and bite him at some point. Can't remember the last time both of our clubs were so deep in Europe. Sincerely hope it continues.

The draw for the Europa League will be on Monday, December 11th... here are the seeded and unseeded teams.

Qualified teams


Seeded: AC Milan (ITA), Arsenal (ENG), Atalanta (ITA), Athletic Club (ESP), Atlético Madrid* (ESP), Braga (POR), CSKA Moskva* (RUS), Dynamo Kyiv (UKR), Lazio (ITA), Leipzig* (GER), Lokomotiv Moskva (RUS), Plzeň (CZE), Salzburg (AUT), Sporting CP* (POR), Villarreal (ESP), Zenit (RUS)

Unseeded: AEK Athens (GRE), Astana (KAZ), Celtic* (SCO), Crvena zvezda (SRB), Dortmund* (GER), FCSB (ROU), København (DEN), Ludogorets (BUL), Lyon (FRA), Marseille (FRA), Napoli* (ITA), Nice (FRA), Östersund (SWE), Partizan (SRB), Real Sociedad (ESP), Spartak Moskva* (RUS)

For me, I'd prefer these teams in this order (most desirable to least desirable):

Red Bull Salzburg
Viktoria Plzen
Dynamo Kyiv
Braga
AC Milan
Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA Moskva
Atalanta
Zenit St. Petersburg
Sporting CP
Villareal
Leipzig
Lazio
Atheltic Club Bilbao
Atletico Madrid

In terms of teams, I'd really prefer to avoid the three Spanish teams, espcially Bilbao and Zoki's Atletico as they are simply too much. I'd also prefer to avoid Villareal even though they haven't been as good this season as past seasons. Lazio is in incredible form and while I think we might match them tactically they have too much chemistry. The same goes for Leipzig who have shown they are an excellent Bundesliga and CL team this season. Sporting under Jorge Jesus has been a semi-revelation this season and had the better of Juventus in several parts of both games. They're also neck and neck with Porto for the title so Sporting is a team I'd like to avoid. Jesus also knows how to setup his teams in Europe so that's one of the reasons I have them lower in my teams.

Zenit, while starting the season brightly have gone under a bad spell in the league dropping to 6 points behind Lokomotiv with a couple of games left to play before the break. However, given our Spartak relationship things can go sour here possibly. Add to the fact they disposed Sociedad 3-1 and the firepower they have in Kokorin, Driussi and Paredes powering in midfield... I don't like our chances. Lokomotiv meanwhile has had an excellent season as Jefferson Farfan, the Peruvian is in the form of his life. He has led Lokomotiv alongside the Miranchuk brothers to their highest finish at the midpoint of the Russian league in years. On top of that he has led Peru to the World Cup with his goal against New Zealand in the World Cup playoff. However, they have certain defensive frailties that can be exposed in their preferred 3-5-2/3-4-3 formation and I think we could give them a game... in addition, their fans are not as fiery as Zenit's or CSKA's.

CSKA has been pretty good under their new coach this season after Slutsky left for Hull City before resigning earlier this month. A couple of new faces have come through and they were unfortunate not to finish 2nd behind Manchester United as Basel pipped them to second spot in their group. This is a team that beat Benfica both home and away so I'm a bit reluctant to face such a squad even though Benfica isn't what they used to be this season. Add Spartak to the mix and I'd like to avoid CSKA.

Atalanta is an opponent I've watched a lot of this season and they're an excellent team as well. The 3-4-3 they play under Gasperini brings attractive football to the table. They have a reliable goalkeeper in Strakosha, a solid backline that includes Mattia Caldara who's a serious upcoming Italian defender that Juventus bought at the end of last season and loaned back out so he can develop. On top of that they have the experienced Rafael Toloi commanding the defense. In front of them is an interesting midfield that includes the likes of the Dutch Hans Hateboer who plays on the right wing/wide fullback area who has the ability to beat his man, Bryan Cristante, Jasmin Kurtic... up front they have the diminutive but so dangerous Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez who plays on the left wing but drifts inside as their No. 10. He is one of the most dangerous attackers in Serie A and one of the main reasons I'd like to avoid Atalanta. He will probably called up for Argentina for the World Cup as he has been in imperious form the past 18 months. On top of that they have an expeienced Serie A veteran in Josip Ilicic who on his day can be a menace. Centrally either Petagna or the Dane Cornelius lead the line... the former of which has the ability to really hold up the ball and distribute. This is a team that beat Lyon who has been good in France this season and dispatched Everton 5-1 away.

Milan, while being a club with such a history that's one of the most impressive in Europe have been utterly horrible this season. They fired Montella two weeks ago and hired a largely inexperienced Gattuso. They are also in the midst of a huge financial investigation by UEFA for illegal acts not admissible by UEFA Financial Fair Play as it seems that the Chinese takeover was funded through huge loans by a New York based hedge fund. It also appears the loans taken to buy the club have serious debt covenants and unless Milan turn their season around and make the Champions League they are facing expulsion from Europe. Also, Montella forced the 3-5-2 and while they have a solid assemble of players they have yet to find a system that works for all of them together. There is a lot of quality in the squad but they have really been disjointed and Gattuso is going to have to make some serious magic happen in the next 6 months if Milan are to turn this around. They have Donnarumma in goal, Bonucci in defense with solid fullbacks in Rodriguez and Abate. In front of them they have Franck Kessie who was a revelation last season at Atalanta but has looked like a shadow of his former self. On top of that they have the tricky Turk Çalhanoğlu who was supposed to be the creative spark for this side but has really not delivered what was expected in addition to the Spaniard Suso, the Croatia Nikola Kalinic, the Portuguese Andre Silva, as well as Bonaventura. As such, it's hard to make this team out, but given how their form is and how much I lack faith in Gattuso, I think they would be ripe for the picking... even more so than Atalanta. They just look in serious trouble at the moment and lost 2-0 to Rijeka in their last match of the Europa League which was preceded by a 2-2 draw with bottom Italian side Benevento.

In regards to the last 4 teams in Braga, Dynamo Kyiv, Viktoria Plzen and Red Bull Salzburg... I cannot say much as I haven't watched enough of their football to comment. The one thing I do know is that Plzen, since being eliminated by Steaua Bucuresti in the Champions League qualifiers have been on a tear in the Czech league winning something like 15-16 matches and drawing twice with no defeats. I'm also basing the Kyiv conclusion based on how our neighbors fared and the fact that we proved during the qualifiers that we can play with teams that were typically "tricky" for us historically in the Russian/Ukrainian/Czech realm. Also, when I look at Salzburg's roster it's probably the least impressive so given that I'd like to face them. In addition, that game would away match could be a bit of a home game.

Let's see who we get.
 

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The problem we’ll face is we won’t be match fit as the Europa League starts before the SuperLiga.

I think the Czech, Ukrainian and Russian leagues are in similar situations.
 

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Lokomotiv will probably concentrate on trying to win a surprise league title, so could be a good opponent to get. They don't have the squad to compete on two fronts all that well.
 

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Partizan's luck of the draw continues, Viktoria Plzen from the Czech Republic.

Real shame we didn't get them as we'd actually advance from the tie.
 

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Plzen is quite good attacking and really average defending. That's all I can say after watching 4 games of them.
 

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Partizan are pretty shit allround, so I still expect Plzen to move on, barring any spectular changes at Partizan.

But Zvezda would have been a different story.
 

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Always an easy draw for them but I don’t think you can rule us out of the tie vs CSKA.
 

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Zeko lopove...
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I think people seriously underestimate Plzen. They've been on an absolute tear in the Czech Republic and I think will wipe the floor with Partizan.

As for us, I think chances are 60-40 for CSKA but we've shown that we know how to be disciplined and score when called upon. That's why I fancy our chances. I think it'll be more about making less mistakes than actually winning a tie.
 
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