FK Partizan made progress at home and in the UEFA Cup in the opening month of the Serbo-Montenegrin season.
By Aleksandr Boskovic
There has been an uneven start to the season in Serbia and Montenegro's Prva Liga, with a number of matches postponed due to the national team's involvement in the Olympic Games football.
The Olympic squad lost all three games - conceding 14 goals - and one consequence of their participation is that, at the time of writing, two of the top clubs, FK Crvena Zvezda and FK Vojvodina, have played only two matches, while most of the other sides have played four.
As expected, FK Partizan lead the table. The Belgrade side have won three of their opening four games but have been helped by the fact no other team are performing at their best. Mind you, Partizan have hardly shone either, and the experienced trio of Dragan Ciric, Ivan Tomic and Saša Ilic - who returned to the club this summer - have notably struggled to find their form.
In addition, coach Tomislav Vermezovic's preferred 3-5-2 formation is not producing the desired results. In the Prva Liga, Partizan have been held 1-1 by FK Borac and none of their three wins have been comfortable. Still, the displays of striker Srdjan Radonjic are a definite plus and he hit a hat-trick in the recent 3-1 defeat of FK Smederevo.
At least they can look forward to a UEFA Cup first-round tie against FC Dinamo Bucuresti later this month. Partizan struggled to overcome Romania's FC Otelul Galati in their UEFA Cup qualifier - Radonjic scoring the only goal over two legs - but progressed all the same, which is more than can be said of Crvena Zvezda.
The Serbo-Montenegrin champions lost their UEFA Champions League qualifier to PSV Eindhoven, going down 5-0 away after a 3-2 home success. They also lost their league opener 1-0 to Borac. This result - together with Borac's draw at Partizan - prompted talk of the 'Borac Cacak miracle', but Borac have since struggled, succumbing 2-0 to both OFK Beograd and FK Hajduk Kula.
Like Crvena Zvezda, FK Železnik also went out of Europe early, falling to FC Steaua Bucuresti in UEFA Cup qualifying. It has been a better start for FK Zeta, who are currently second in the table with nine points and look like staying there.