Tim Sperliotis

Last night saw Serbian giants Crvena zvezda defeat Liverpool 2-0, in what was their first win in the Champions League since 1991. It was a night full of history, as the win came in their first return to the Champions League since the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1992.

Crvena zvezda have had a successful history, with a Champions League trophy in the 1990/91 season to show for it and multiple semi-final appearances, however they have been limited to domestic glory only for the past 25 years.

The win over Liverpool can be considered as one of the club’s best in recent times and has brought back memories of the famous 1990/91 season that gave them European glory.

Leading up to the final that season, Crvena zvezda were victorious over Grasshopper, Rangers, Dynamo Dresden and Bayern Munich, with their two-legged win over the latter coming late in the second-leg.

Their campaign saw them net 19 goals in nine matches in the old format, with Darko Pancev and Robert Prosinecki leading the scoring for the side in the ‘European Cup.’

Crvena zvezda faced French side Marseille in the final of the competition, with the match finishing 0-0 after normal time – the Serbian giants went on to win the match 5-3 on penalties.

Players such as Pancev and Prosinecki, Stevan Stojanovic, Miodrag Belodedici, Dejan Savicevic and Vladimir Jugovic are just some of the names that assisted in their journey to success under the leadership of manager Ljupko Petrovic.

Unfortunately, their success allowed for the loss of multiple players to other clubs and due to conflict in the country, they were made to play its Champions League matches the following season in both Budapest and Sofia, instead of its regular stadium.

From their successful 1990/91 season until recent times, the UN sanctions, the Yugoslav Wars and the breakup of Yugoslavia have greatly impacted Crvena zvezda and have resulted in the Serbian giants not reaching the heights they had reached in the past.

This shows how big this morning’s win over Liverpool was. Following a period dominated by politics and conflict, today’s victory brought back memories of their ‘golden generation’ and despite being the underdogs in their Champions League group, they have two more chances to show what they can do.

Regardless if they get knocked out of the group, their return to the Champions League has brought joy to their supporters and has highlighted to many, especially the younger generation, that they are no easy-beats and deserve respect for their successful history.

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Tim Sperliotis
tsperliotis@gmail.com