Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Europa League clash between Red Star Belgrade and Monaco, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Red Star Belgrade host Monaco in the Europa League on Thursday.
Both sides reached the last-16 stage of this competition last season, and will have aspirations of going even further this time around.
Having failed to qualify for the group stage of any European competition between 2008 and 2016, this season will be the sixth consecutive one in which Red Star have featured in either the Champions League or Europa League group stage.
Losing 5-4 on aggregate to Maccabi Haifa means they will have another stab at the Europa League on this occasion, having impressively topped Group L last season before losing 4-2 on aggregate to eventual finalists Rangers in the round-of-16.
Milos Milojevic has replaced the former Inter Milan midfielder Dejan Stankovic in the managerial dugout, with the 39-year-old’s early momentum hitting a wall in recent weeks in the form of the aforementioned Champions League exit and two successive draws in the Serbian SuperLiga seeing Novi Pazar overtake them at the top of the table.
However, Thursday’s test against Monaco provides an opportunity for Red Star to get themselves back on track, with home games likely to prove crucial to determining their success – or lack thereof – in Europe this season.
Monaco, meanwhile, have had a similar path to Red Star on the European stage in the past year, having also topped their Europa League group last season before falling to Braga 3-1 on aggregate in the round-of-16.
They were knocked out of the Champions League qualifying rounds earlier this season, too, with Luuk De Jong‘s extra-time strike sending PSV Eindhoven through at their expense after Erick Gutierrez had leveled the tie with only one minute of normal time remaining.
Having been given a fairly favorable draw alongside Red Star, Trabzonspor and Ferencvaros in Group H, Philippe Clement will feel confident that he can navigate Monaco to another European top spot, which would see them receive a bye in the first knockout round as per the competition’s change of rules.
However, very few teams find playing their normal style of football easy in front of a vociferous atmosphere in Belgrade. Monaco may need to show the type of character which earned them a 1-0 win away to Nice in the Riviera derby on Sunday if they are to avoid defeat.
Red Star Belgrade form (all competitions):
Monaco form (all competitions):
Red Star are likely to remain without an experienced defender Radovan Pankovwho is suffering from a knee injury.
Milojevic could name the same starting XI which earned a 1-1 draw away to their rivals Partizan last week.
Monaco, meanwhile, will travel without forwards Kevin Volland and Myron Boadu due to foot injuries.
With a tough league game against Lyon ahead of them at the weekend, Clement may opt to make several changes from Sunday’s victorious Riviera derby, with the likes of Wissam Ben Yedder, Vanderson, Jean Lucas, Takumi Minamino, Gelson Martins and Ismail Jacobs all likely to come into the side.
Red Star Belgrade possible starting lineup:
Boryan; Erakovic, Dragovic, Milunovic, Rodic; Sanogo, Kanga; Bukari, Ivanic, Katai; Pesic
Monaco possible starting lineup:
Nubel; Disasi, Maripan, Sarr; Vanderson, Lucas, Fofana, Jakobs; Minamino, Martins; Ben Yedder
We say: Red Star Belgrade 1-1 Monaco
These sides will likely show each other plenty of respect having both topped their groups in this competition last season.
As such, we would not be surprised if both settle for a share of the spoils should the game state be heading in that direction.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data