Verdict: Home Win
Best Odds: 16/13
With Arsenal already in the Europa League knockouts despite their defeat to FC Koln in the previous round it’s now up to Bundesliga outfit to fight for their own place in the next stage of the competition in Belgrade.
The Serbian heavyweights proved they are a tough nut to crack and will not go without a fight in a direct shootout with the German side.
FK Crvena Zvezda
Former European champions FK Crvena Zvezda have been a surprise package of the Europa League Group H.
Pitted against the likes of Arsenal, FC Koln and BATE Borisov as a regular participant in European competitions the past few years, Serbian giants were expected to be fighting a losing battle. Contrary to popular belief, however, Crvena Zvezda have as good as a chance as their German rival of progressing through and will hope that a strong performance in front of their fanatical support will have them achieve what could be a huge success for once a huge club. It’s been a long time since Serbia had two members in Europe, let alone in elimination round but with Partizan also within a touching distance of the knockouts it could be a joyous time for Serbian football. Crvena Zvezda are coming off from a nervous build up to the FC Koln game having been forced to settle for a 2-2 draw at minnow Backa in the Serbian Super Liga at the weekend. A brace from Chelsea and Crystal Palace Richmond Boakye helped Red Star to a point and the Ghana international striker is expected to continue his scoring form against FC Koln.
Boakye will once again lead the line in attack with head coach Milojevic likely to make some vital changes to his squad.
Kanga is expected to return to the fold, together with Krsticic whereas Borjan is expected to stand on the goal line instead of reserve keeper Kahriman, after being rested for the Backa clash.
Bundesliga side FC Koln revived their Europa League ambitions with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Arsenal last time out.
A penalty by Sehrou Guirassy following Matthieu Debuchy’s foul on the French striker allowed Germans to acquire a vital win in the penultimate round of the Europa League group stage. FC Koln now travel to Belgrade with renewed self-confidence despite their domestic rut. The Billy Goats sit rock-bottom in Bundesliga standings with only three points after 14 rounds. Alexander Wehrle’s men look set to be relegated and will try to make most of their surprisingly positive European campaign as sort of a compensation for domestic woes. FC Koln registered their third point of the season last weekend when they managed to earn a 2-2 draw at Schalke. Guirassy continued his scoring run with a brace against the Gelsenkirchen side and will be motivated to extend the exploits in Belgrade as well. The 21-year-old French forward has notched six goals across all competitions this term and definitely is the one to watch against Crvena Zvezda.
Yuya Osako earned a red card at the weekend but his domestic suspension will not affect his appearance against Crvena Zvezda.
Dominic Maroh is set to be reintroduced to the squad after missing out the last two games.
Key Factors to Consider
- Sehrou Guirassy scored three goals in last three games for FC Koln
- Crvena Zvezda only conceded two goals in 5 EL games thus far
- Serbian giants are unbeaten in last 11 matches across all competitions
- Belgrade side won seven of their last 8 home games
- FC Koln lost 7 of their last ten away matches
Crvena Zveda are a terrifying side to play against at their Rajko Mitic Stadium with fans creating an astonishing noise and putting in impressive effort of backing their side with chants and songs through entire 90 minutes. the Serbian giants have plenty to fight for and are expected to give their absolute best to secure a win that will take them through to the knockouts together with Arsenal.
Verdict: Home Win
Best Odds: 16/13
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