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Former European champions Crvena zvezda are making their first springtime appearance on the continental stage for 26 years, while opponents CSKA Moskva also have something to celebrate after avoiding a fifth successive bottom-place finish in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

• The Belgrade club reached the UEFA Europa League round of 32 for the first time despite scoring just three goals in their group, which was won by Arsenal. Crvena zvezda’s tally of nine points was matched in the UEFA Champions League by CSKA, but that placed the Russian side only third in their section behind Manchester United and Basel.

Previous meetings
• The two teams have never met in European competition.

• Crvena zvezda have won two and lost two of their four two-legged European ties against Russian opponents. The most recent encounters took place this season, the Red and Whites overcoming FC Krasnodar on away goals in the play-offs (2-3 away, 2-1 home) to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time.

• CSKA have happy memories of their one previous tie against Serbian opponents as their 3-1 aggregate win over Crvena zvezda’s Belgrade rivals Partizan in the round of 16 of the 2004/05 UEFA Cup contributed to the club’s only continental trophy success.

Form guide
• Crvena zvezda have not conceded more than one goal in any of their last eight European home games (W5 D2 L1), shipping only four in that time.

• The Belgrade side’s tally of just three goals scored in the UEFA Europa League group stage was the fewest of any of the 24 qualified teams. However, their concession of just two goals was bettered by only one other qualifier – Salzburg (one).

• This is Crvena zvezda’s 15th UEFA fixture in 2017/18, making it the longest European campaign in the club’s history.

• CSKA have won four of their five European away fixtures this season, including 2-1 victories at Benfica and Basel in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

• The Moscow side’s last European knockout phase involvement was a UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie with Real Madrid in 2011/12, which they lost 5-2 on aggregate (1-1 home, 1-4 away). Their one and only appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 came a year earlier as they defeated PAOK 2-1 on aggregate (1-0 away, 1-1 home) before bowing out in the round of 16 to FC Porto.

• CSKA have won five of their last seven UEFA Europa League away games, including qualifying, losing only one.

• Second in last season’s Serbian Superliga, and UEFA Cup runners-up in 1978/79, Crvena zvezda last extended their European campaign into the spring in 1991/92, when they were the reigning European Champion Clubs’ Cup holders. This is their 22nd continental adventure since then.

• CSKA were runners-up to city rivals Spartak Moskva in last season’s Russian Premier League. To reach the UEFA Champions League group stage they got through two qualifying rounds, defeating both AEK Athens and Young Boys 3-0 on aggregate.

Links and trivia
• Damien Le Tallec (Mordovia Saransk 2014–16), Guélor Kanga (Rostov 2012–16), Mitchell Donald (Mordovia Saransk 2014–15), Branko Jovičić (Amkar 2014–17) and Dušan Andjelković (Rostov 2009–10, Krasnodar 2011–14) have all played in the Russian Premier League.

• CSKA’s Viktor Vasin spent 2014/15 at Mordovia Saransk alongside Le Tallec and Donald.

• Russia defeated Serbia 1-0 in an August 2011 friendly. Igor Akinfeev, Aleksei Berezutski, Vasili Berezutski and Sergei Ignashevich all played for the hosts, Nenad Milijaš coming on as a substitute for the visitors.

• Crvena zvezda are the only team to have made it all the way from the first qualifying round of this season’s UEFA Europa League to the knockout phase.

• Crvena zvezda striker Richmond Boakye was the joint top scorer in UEFA Europa League qualifying this season with seven goals – level with Maksim Maksimov of Lithuanian club Trakai.

• Crvena zvezda led the Serbian Superliga at the winter break with a nine-point advantage over eternal local rivals Partizan.

The coaches
• Vladan Milojević returned to the club where he began his playing career when Crvena zvezda appointed him as their new head coach in June 2017. The former defender’s stock was high at the time after he took Panionios into Greece’s post-season play-offs. Two years previously, he had made a name for himself by leading unheralded Čukarički to their first major honour when they beat Partizan in the Serbian Cup final.

• Appointed by CSKA to replace long-serving coach Leonid Slutski in December 2016, Viktor Goncharenko was only 39 at the time, but he had earned a growing reputation in Russian football, notably while serving as Slutski’s assistant. He made his name as a coach in his native Belarus at BATE Borisov, winning five straight titles and leading the club into the UEFA Champions League group stage on three occasions.


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