Who is Partizan Belgrade: Profiling Olympiacos’ Champions’ League Opponents
AGONAsport’s George Tsitsonis gives insight into Olympiacos’ Champions’ League opponents, Partizan Belgrade. The Serbian club who dominate at home and are aiming for a spot in the Group Stage this season.
Olympiacos face Serbian opposition in the form of Partizan Belgrade in the upcoming 3rd Round of Champions’ League qualifying this week. Partizan, founded in 1945, is a similar side to Olympiacos in that they have completely dominated the domestic scene in recent years. The Crno-Beli (the Black-Whites) as they are known, have won eight of the last known Serbian SuperLiga titles. Partizan lost out on the championship in the 2015/16 season having won the last seven league titles before that.
The Belgrade club bounced back last season though securing a league and cup double. Partizan are the first ever Balkan side to qualify for a major European final, losing 2-1 to Real in 1966 European Cup final. They also remain the only Serbian club to have participated in the Group Stage of the Champions’ League.
With a firm grip of dominance in Serbia, the desire is to return to success on the continental stage. A spot in the Group Stage is the main target this season and the club have splashed the cash with their biggest ever transfer signing. Guinean playmaker Seydouba Soumah has been brought in for €1.65 million.
Stadium: Partizan Stadium (Capacity 32,710)
Titles Won: 27 Serbian SuperLiga Titles, 14 Serbian Cups
Coach: Miroslav Djukic
Partizan have a new boss in Miroslav Djukic, who takes over for the departed Marko Nikolic who left to join Videoton FC in Hungary. Djukic returns for a second stint with Partizan after a short spell in 2007.The 51-year-old Djukic was most recently at Al-Shabab in the United Arab Emirates for a brief period. Before that, he had spent the bulk of his coaching career in Spain having managed Hercules, Valladolid, Valencia, and Cordoba over a four-year period. Consistently linked with Olympiacos and other Greek sides over the last few season, Djukic enjoyed a stellar playing career. He racked up nearly 550 appearances, most notably enjoying long stints at Deportivo La Coruna (7 years) and Valencia (6 years). The former sweeper also managed to represent the former Yugoslavia 48 times.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Big things are expected from record-signing Soumah. The diminutive 26-year-old comes over from Slovan Bratislava where he made quite the name for himself in four season amassing 30 goals in 83 games in addition to many assists. He led Slovan to two Slovak Super Liga titles as well as two Slovak Cup victories. The Guinean finished as Slovak Super Liga top scorer last season with 20 goals.
Uros Djordjevic is another player Olympiacos should give caution too. The striker was in prolific form last season with his 28 goals in 34 matches in all competitions. He forged a strong partnership with Brazilian Leonardo (24 goals), however Leonardo has not been named as part of the club’s European squad due to a dispute with the board about a transfer to the Middle East. Chelsea loanee Daniel Pantic is one to watch in midfield, already having begun the season in fine form.
LAST SEASON RECAP
After missing out on the title in 2015/16, Partizan were winners of the Super Liga last season. The team finished with 30 wins, four draws, three losses outlasting rivals Red Star. Partizan rode tremendous form in the league playoffs to the title. The club managed to go 7-for-7 in their playoff matches to go from three points down to win the championship. The double was also clinched with a Serbian Cup win rounding off a successful campaign.
THIS YEAR IN EUROPE
In Europe this season, Partizan began their journey in the 2nd qualifying Round of the Champions’ League. They faced Buducnost Podgorica and came through with a 2-0 aggregate win over the Montenegro side. Partizan were able to win the first leg at home 2-0 and finished the job with a 0-0 draw in the return leg.
PRIOR HISTORY VERSUS GREEK CLUBS
Partizan have twice faced Greek opposition in European competition. The first was in the 2004/05 season when they took on Aigaleo in the Group Stage of the UEFA Cup, defeating the Greek side 4-0. Then a decade later, there were two matches against Asteras Tripolis in the Group Stage of the Europa League. Asteras had the better of those encounters, defeating the Serbian team 2-0 in Greece and securing a 0-0 draw in Belgrade.