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Season review: Serbia

Published: Monday 13 June 2011, 12.56CET
FK Partizan ended up six points clear at the top of the standings, and completed a fourth successive domestic double, but it was tighter than it might have looked in Serbia.
by Aleksandar Bošković
from Belgrade
Season review: Serbia
Mladen Krstajić (left) made his presence felt in his final season at Partizan ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 13 June 2011, 12.56CET

Season review: Serbia

FK Partizan ended up six points clear at the top of the standings, and completed a fourth successive domestic double, but it was tighter than it might have looked in Serbia.

FK Partizan ended up six points clear at the top of the standings, but the final table did scant justice to a season of unusual intensity, as FK Vojvodina came close to breaking the big Belgrade sides' grip on the crown. Partizan won both of their derby games against FK Crvena zvezda, but twice lost to Vojvodina, who had a chance to win the crown until two games before the end of the campaign.

Champions: FK Partizan
Partizan's 23rd national title saw them break new ground, as they became the first team in the history of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro and Serbia to win four successive championships, all of them doubles. Alkesandar Stanojević's side were the league's top scorers with 75 goals – an average of 2.5 per game – and won 24 of their 30 league matches, losing only twice: against Vojvodina on both occasions. Moreover, they reached the UEFA Champions League group stage for the second time in their history; a major achievement in itself.

Cup final: FK Partizan 2-1 FK Vojvodina
(match abandoned, Partizan awarded a 3-0 victory)
For the first time in the competition's 63-year history, the cup final was abandoned, with the game at the FK Crvena zvezda Stadium awarded as a 3-0 win for Partizan after Vojvodina players walked off with eight minutes to go in protest at refereeing decisions, having had a goal disallowed and a penalty turned down with the score 2-1 in their opponents' favour. The Novi Sad side's Danijel Mojsov had cancelled out Prince Tagoe's first-half opener for Partizan, but tempers began to fray after Stanojević's side were awarded a penalty, which Zvonimir Vukić converted.

European places*
FK Partizan – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
FK Crvena zvezda – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FK Vojvodina – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FK Rad – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Mladen Krstajić (FK Partizan)
The official player of the year award has yet to be announced, but it would be no surprise if the former international defender Krstajić took one last honour with him as he retires from professional football. The former SV Werder Bremen and FC Schalke 04 man showed all the wisdom of his 37 years, with the oldest player in the league helping young team-mates Marko Jovanović and Stefan Savić to raise their game; the team captain will look to continue that good work as the club's new sporting director. "I'm not scared although this role is demanding and involves devotion and taking a lot of responsibility," Krstajić said. "I'm ready for any challenges, all for the benefit of FK Partizan."

One to watch: Slobodan Medojević (FK Vojvodina)
Named in the league's official team of the year at the end of his third professional season, the 20-year-old defensive midfielder is a rock in defence and a rocket going forward. Possessed of seemingly boundless energy, he is assured on the ball, and delivers incisive passes too. An Under-21 international for now, bigger things surely await him.

Surprise package: FK Rad
The Belgrade side had finished eighth in their first two seasons since being promoted back to the top division, but surprised everyone by making fourth place their own this time round, with coach Marko Nikolić fashioning a sturdy side with a great team spirit. Back in Europe for the first time in 22 years, they will play in the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round, with the club's fans still having fond memories of their narrow first round defeat against Olympiacos FC in the 1989/90 UEFA Cup.

Leading scorers: Andrija Kaludjerović, FK Crvena zvezda & Ivica Iliev, FK Partizan (13)

Number: 5
The number of points picked up by bottom side FK Čukarički; the lowest total of any top-flight team in Europe this season. The team from the Belgrade suburbs scored ten goals, conceded 65 and drew five games, making them the first side in the history of Serbia to end a top-division season with no wins.

Relegated: FK Čukarički Stankom, FK Indjija

Promoted: FK Novi Pazar, FK Radnički 1923

Quote
"If Prince Tagoe scores two goals in tomorrow's game, I will give him my car."
Partizan coach Aleksandar Stanojević makes an offer he would go on to regret ahead of a cup semi-final against Crvena zvezda; the Ghanaian scored twice in a 2-0 win and picked up the keys in the dressing room.

Last updated: 11/07/11 19.19CET

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