If FK Crvena Zvezda and Rangers FC make the most of UEFA Champions League second qualifying round leads, they would be set for an encounter with a famous precedent.
Red Star glory
In October 1990 the pair faced off in the European Champion Clubs' Cup second round. The Scottish side had won their previous meeting after a replay on their way to the 1964/65 quarter-finals, but Glasgow mythology states that when then Rangers assistant manager Walter Smith returned from a Belgrade scounting mission before their more recent tie, he told his boss Graeme Souness in explicit terms that they had met their match.
Sure enough Rangers fell to a 4-1 aggregate defeat - with Crvena Zvezda famously going on to lift the trophy. Now, should Rangers exploit a 2-0 lead over Montenegro's FK Zeta and Crvena Zvezda make the most of a 1-0 advantage against FC Levadia Tallinn in their away legs next week, these sides will meet for a place in the group stage following today's third qualifying round draw. The Serbian champions' coach Boško Djurovski knows the tie would stir many memories.
"Life has some rules and we must accept them," Djurovski said. "First at all, Crvena Zvezda must eliminate Levadia and after that we can speak about potential opponents. But we must be satisfied, because at the moment we were drawn our opponents could have been Liverpool [FC], Sevilla [FC] or Arsenal [FC]. Scottish teams are good, I saw their victory against Chelsea [FC last week], but we can live with them. When we took the European crown in 1991 we eliminated Rangers with a 3-0 win in Belgrade and 1-1 away draw. The second leg would be in Belgrade which would be quite a spectacle."
Smith is now in his second spell as Rangers manager and if his team get past Zeta, he knows they will be in for a challenge. "First and foremost we have to concentrate on getting through against Zeta," Smith told uefa.com. "It looks as though Red Star are the favourites to progress in the other tie although they are only one goal ahead from the first leg so you never know what can happen. They are a club with a proud history. Serbian football is doing well at the moment and whoever we get I'm sure they will be formidable opponents."
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