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Season review: Serbia

Published: Tuesday 25 May 2010, 13.16CET
While FK Partizan claimed their third consecutive title, a 23rd cup success was some consolation for FK Crvena zvezda and FK Vojvodina captain Dragan Mrdja caught the eye with his goalscoring.
by Aleksandar Bošković
from Belgrade
Season review: Serbia
Partizan president Dragan Djurić and Aleksandar Stanojević, the club's third coach of the season ©FK Partizan
Published: Tuesday 25 May 2010, 13.16CET

Season review: Serbia

While FK Partizan claimed their third consecutive title, a 23rd cup success was some consolation for FK Crvena zvezda and FK Vojvodina captain Dragan Mrdja caught the eye with his goalscoring.

The season ended with FK Partizan claiming their third successive title but FK Crvena zvezda had topped the table for 25 rounds of the campaign, the black-and-whites finally taking pole position with four rounds to go. Crvena Zvezda took some consolation, though, with a 23rd cup triumph, their first trophy since the 2006/07 season.

Champions: FK Partizan
Unbeaten in the league all season, 24 wins and six draws helped Partizan finish the season seven points ahead of Crvena zvezda. They also scored more goals (63) and conceded fewer (14) than any of their rivals, but their place at the top only started to look secure following a 1-0 win against Crvena zvezda in the 28th round which moved them four points clear of their Belgrade rivals.

Cup final: FK Crvena zvezda 3–0 FK Vojvodina
Vojvodina's 3-1 semi-final success handed Partizan their only domestic loss of the season, but they were outclassed by Crvena zvezda in the final. Aleksandar Jevtić put 'Red Star' ahead after 18 minutes and they were able to score two more at a canter after the break as Vojvodina's 96-year wait for a first cup success continued.

European places*
FK Partizan – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
FK Crvena zvezda – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
OFK Beograd – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FK Spartak Zlatibor Voda – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Dragan Mrdja (FK Vojvodina)
Top-flight coaches voted the Vojvodina captain as the Player of the Season, but while his 22 goals placed him atop the scorers table, Mrdja will miss out on Europe next season as Vojvodina could only finish fifth in the table and came up short in the Serbian Cup final. An exciting summer may nonetheless beckon; two goals in a 3-0 friendly win against Japan in April helped Mrdja make the provisional Serbia squad for the FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.

One to watch: Adem Ljajić (ACF Fiorentina)
Ljajić spent the first half of the season at Partizan before moving on to join Fiorentina in December, and was named as Serbia's Young Player of the Year. A left-sided midfielder, he has made a positive start in Italy and is regarded as a major talent at home, where he has represented Serbia at Under-21 and U19 level.

Surprise package: FK Spartak Zlatibor Voda
Having spent the previous nine seasons in the second tier, Spartak's first season back in the big time earned them a fourth-placed finish and a European berth. Marshalled brilliantly by Zoran Milinković – named as the Football Association of Serbia's Coach of the Year – they lacked household names, but boasted great spirit, while there was personal reward for goalkeeper Milan Jovanić, who made his international debut.

Leading scorer: Dragan Mrdja, FK Vojvodina (22)

Relegated: FK Napredak, FK Mladi Radnik

Promoted: TBC

Number: 3
The number of coaches Partizan went through despite not losing a league game all season: Slaviša Jokanović, Goran Stevanović and Aleksandar Stanojević.

Quote
"I won three titles with Partizan and a double with Werder Bremen, but this is my sweetest trophy yet. Maybe that's because know I am 36 now and as the oldest player I have more responsibility."
Partizan captain Mladen Krstajić

Last updated: 20/12/10 15.53CET

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