It’s been a while; 26 years since Zvezda last played a European cup. In the meantime, the competition changed format, becoming what we now know as the UCL. Despite a 0-0 against Napoli, they didn’t disappoint.
Coach Vladan Milojević’ starting 11 didn’t offer a spectacle that kept everyone gazing at the pitch. They did, however, keep one huge point home. For better comparison, the likes of PSG didn’t.
The lack of highlight worthy moves and a total of zero goals, don’t diminish the importance of a draw at the Rajko Mitić Stadium. Fondly known as the Marakana, Serbia’s biggest stadium was packed, for a long awaited European premiere. Solely getting through the crowd was physically challenging. Naturally, the stadium was at least 10 degrees hotter.
Many of the fans were watching their first ever Champions League match live. They weren’t born the last time Zvezda played at this level of competition.
This season has the potential to be a record breaker. Each point the Red and Whites gather means an influx for the financially rocky club. Each game the Belgradians don’t lose is a step closer to restoring their prior reputation. Creating an international name amongst the younger generations, whose parents probably remember something about Red Star Belgrade.
Once a well-known side with an inspirational style of play got lost within the Yugoslav turmoil. Major competitions remained one step too far, creating a series of lost generations that never made it into Europe . Last night Zvezda proved that, despite everything, they can become a force to be reckoned with.
Napoli outdid their opponent in the offense, keeping the ball rolling with a very steady midfield. Not enough to score, against the underrated home team. They did most of the running and yet… No goal. A somewhat surprising result for most of the public expecting the Italians to take away an easy three point advantage at the start of the UCL.
With Google and Twitter heating up from the questions about who the hell is this Red Star and how you pronounce the second Z in ZveZda, the Belgrade side is currently sitting comfortably at third place of group C after the first round.
Their next match is in Paris, where the Serbs will show what they’re made of; a match that will show the complete reality of the Red and Whites.