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Mladen Krstajić hopes he and his FK Partizan team-mates can send shockwaves across the European football landscape with a victory against Arsenal FC in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League Group H meeting.
Despite winning the Serbian championship in each of the last three seasons, Partizan must still bow to Belgrade neighbours FK Crvena Zvezda on the continental scene, their arch-rivals having lifted the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1990/91. Krstajić and company hardly made a rival statement with their 1-0 loss at FC Shakhtar Donetsk on Matchday 1, yet they ended that encounter on top and their captain feels they can build on the performance.
"Against Arsenal, we'll need to give even more than we produced against Shakhtar," said Krstajić, who played that game wearing a special carbon mask to protect a broken nose. "We can't afford to let our performance level drop, and I hope we'll manage to achieve a result that will announce our name throughout Europe."
Although Arsenal went down 3-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion FC in the Premier League on Saturday, the 36-year-old centre-back is poised for a monumental test. "It's hard to say who their most dangerous player is," explained Krstajić. "[Manager] Arsène Wenger has a number of good players around 20 years of age. I don't know what lineup they'll put out, but all the players will be tough opponents. We'll need total focus to have a chance of getting into the match.
"It won't be easy at all," he added. "It'll be a tactical game. It's not only the four or five players at the back who have to defend – the whole team will have to play as one. Our midfield and our strikers will have to stay focused. We need to keep our minds on the game and, with the support of our fans, we'll be able to come away with good memories."
A Partizan supporter since childhood, the former SV Werder Bremen and FC Schalke 04 defender expects the role of the Stadion FK Partizan faithful to be crucial against the Gunners. "Partizan's fans are always there for the players," he said. "There'll be no surprises, they will support us for 90 minutes. They are part of us and we are part of them."
Mladen Krstajić was speaking to the official UEFA Champions League Magazine Show.
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