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Hero time for Crvena Zvezda

Published: Monday 21 August 2006, 12.43CET
FK Crvena Zvezda will give "everything we have" to reach the group stage as they bid to overturn a 1-0 UEFA Champions League deficit against AC Milan.
by Aleksandar Bošković
from Belgrade features

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Published: Monday 21 August 2006, 12.43CET

Hero time for Crvena Zvezda

FK Crvena Zvezda will give "everything we have" to reach the group stage as they bid to overturn a 1-0 UEFA Champions League deficit against AC Milan.

Just 1-0 down from the away leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie against AC Milan, FK Crvena Zvezda can almost smell the group stage.

Splendid performance
A splendid performance from goalkeeper Ivan Randjelović limited Milan to a solitary Filippo Inzaghi strike at the San Siro on 9 August, but the 31-year-old - the Serbian champions' most experienced player - is hoping a few more heroes will emerge in Tuesday's second leg in Belgrade. "Nobody knows who will come out on top," he told "But I honestly believe some of our forwards will be the heroes."

Wise heads
While Crvena Zvezda's squad bursts with enthusiasm and no little talent, Randjelović is only too aware of what the Italian giants have in their favour: "Milan have so many players around my age and experience means so much - having seen almost everything you can play calmly. You need a cool head for a game like this. I am composed but I am also very, very excited - I just want the match to kick off as soon as possible."

Defensive priorities
With the UEFA Champions League group stage in sight, Randjelović believes a clean sheet is essential. "We must protect our goal," he said. "If Milan score just once, our mission will be over. I don't remember when they last conceded more than one. We must focus on defence, not just attack, and we have to be brave to come from behind. But I believe we have the ability to pull off a great and historic result."

Epochal tie
To achieve such a success, Crvena Zvezda will also need the home crowd behind them. For Randjelović, Red Star's fanatical fans - the Delije - must be in powerful voice to inspire Dušan Bajević's men. "Anyone who does not know what the Delije mean to Crvena Zvezda will not be able to imagine the atmosphere in Belgrade," he said. "On their wings we will try to fly."

Big moment
Tired legs can be no excuse, Crvena Zvezda's weekend league game against FK Zemun having been postponed, although the magnitude of the occasion is a worry for striker Nikola Žigić. "I am thrilled to have the chance to play Milan, but our weakness is that we have only a few matches like this each season while they play at this level every week." Stage fright, though, is not an option. "We live for the UEFA Champions League," Žigić continued. "This will be a battle that everybody will enjoy. We have played five competitive matches this season - they have had just one so maybe we are in better shape. What will we give on the pitch? Everything we have - and I think that might be enough."

Last updated: 21/08/06 20.20CET

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