With the Europa League at its business end of the Group Stages and Europe’s elite preparing to lock horns again for another knockout round of thrills and spills, there are of course some teams who enter the fray through the side entrance: unknown, timid and a tad inconspicuous.
George Rinaldi returns with a rundown to make sure you are up to scratch with your Bulgarian lingo, your Slovakian half-time snack and your dark horse player to get you those bonus fantasy league points!
It’s Parti-zan Time!
Name: Partizan Belgrade
Nickname: Cmo-Beli (Black and Whites)
Stadium: Partizan Stadium – 32,710 capacity
The one to tune in for: (A) Tottenham (November 27th 2014)
Manager: Marko Nikolic
Partizan play their domestic football in the ‘Super Liga’ which formed in 2006. The league consists of only sixteen teams with Crevena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) the current champions.
Partizan currently sit top, registering a very impressive 31 points from a possible 36. They will be looking to getting back to title winning ways, having won the previous six before last season.
How did they get here?
Unfortunately for Partizan, they were the side who were knocked out by our main man, Cosmin Moti’s team, Ludogorets. No, they didn’t have the humiliation of losing in a penalty shootout to an outfield player between the sticks, but succumbed to the away goal rule. Having drawn 0-0 away, a 1-0 win would have done at home, and despite clawing back the score-line to 2-2 having been 2-0 down, they couldn’t secure the decisive third goal.
Europa League qualification relied on Partizan beating Neftci to progress to the Group Stages. Nikolic’s men did just that, defeating the side from Azerbaijan 3-2 at the imaginatively named ‘Partizan Stadium’, before inflicting more misery on their opponents by beating them 2-1 in their own backyard.
Who will they meet?
Partizan probably weren’t the happiest bunch of Serbians when they found out who would be sharing their group. Tottenham Hotspur sit joint top of Group C with Turkish side Besiktas. Partizan can’t actually qualify into the knockout stages now, having fallen seven points behind the top two with just two games remaining. There will be a party atmosphere when they visit White Hart Lane in late November though, before bowing out as hosts to an even more unknown team that is Greek side Asteras Tripolis. As unknown as they may be, they have already beaten the Black and Whites in early October, 2-0.
Results and Fixtures
Thursday 18/09/14 Partizan 0-0 Tottenham
Thursday 02/10/14 Asteras Tripolis 2-0 Partizan
Thursday 23/10/14 Partizan 0-4 Besiktas
Thursday 05/11/14 Besiktas 2-1 Partizan
Thursday 27/11/14 Tottenham v Partizan
Thursday 11/12/14 Partizan v Asteras Tripolis
Serbian chant to yell at the TV
Ooo Partizane Volimo Te Scre Svim!!
(Roughly translates this Partizan chant to Ooo Partizan, I love you with all my heart!’)
Half time snack – Krempita
Fantastically named, Krempita is a dish many know in Eastern Europe, and translates to ‘cream pie’. It is made using puff pastry dough and filled to the brim with custard, which has to be ‘thick’ and ‘pure’. Can be combined with a meringue if you’re feeling daring enough.
Player for your EL Fantasy Team
I’ll be honest here, I don’t participate in the Europa League fantasy game, but just for you lucky readers I decided to give it a go just to see how good (or bad) Partizan have been in racking up the points.
Incredibly, it’s the goalkeeper, Lukac, who has notched up the most points (12), despite the fact his side have conceded in all but one game. At a cost at 4.5m, I would say throw him in as back-up, but the top-rated keeper so far, Stephane Ruffier of Saint Etienne, is only 0.5m more, and has more than double the points (28).
Will Partizan ruffle Tottenham’s feathers?
Read more from George Rinaldi here!