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Crvena zvezda out to stop dominant Partizan

For Vladimir Vermezović, FK Partizan are still the "best in the country" but FK Crvena zvezda coach Robert Prosinečki is sure his team can end their rivals' five-year stranglehold.

Partizan have had a promising start to the season in UEFA Champions League qualifying
Partizan have had a promising start to the season in UEFA Champions League qualifying ©Anne Aquilina

FK Partizan have won five Serbian titles in a row but they have no shortage of motivation to make it six out of six – one more domestic crown would take them to 25 in their history, level with great city rivals FK Crvena zvezda.

Crvena zvezda, though, are hungry to halt Partizan's dominance having failed to lift the Serbian championship since 2007. The Belgrade neighbours once again start as clear favourites when the new season commences at the weekend, with no team having broken their duopoly since FK Obilić in 1998. The most likely contender to end that 14-year supremacy this time is FK Vojvodina, who are themselves without a domestic title for more than 20 years.

Partizan begin their latest defence with a new man at the helm, Vladimir Vermezović succeeding Avram Grant over the summer. "Our ambitions are to win both domestic competitions," said Vermezović. "I believe we are still the best team in the country and our qualities, preparation and motivation can be a guarantee of success. We will also try to show our best side in European qualification and our wish is to earn a place in the group stage of one of the two competitions."

Partizan's most potent striker in recent seasons, Lamine Diarra, has moved to Turkey, with new arrival Stefan Šćepović expected to fill the void alongside brother Marko. Defensive midfielder Goran Lovre, meanwhile, should add steel following his recruitment from RSC Anderlecht.

For Crvena zvezda coach Robert Prosinečki, the first target is to stop Partizan. "I firmly believe we are the strongest and the best Serbian club," said the former Croatian international. "The season will be long and hard but our target is the championship crown and I am optimistic.

"Like every season, we want to stay in the European scene into autumn and we will try to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Europe League. Our advantage is our supporters – with them we can do anything."