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Krstajić looks to calm Partizan youngsters

Old stager Mladen Krstajić urged his young colleagues at FK Partizan to "be calm and collected" as SC Braga visit Belgrade looking to put an end to the Serbian champions' European hopes.

Mladen Krstajić in action during Partizan's 2-0 Matchday 3 loss at Braga
Mladen Krstajić in action during Partizan's 2-0 Matchday 3 loss at Braga ©Getty Images

Defender Mladen Krstajić has warned his younger FK Partizan team-mates that "much is expected of them" as the Serbian champions go into a must-win game against SC Braga in UEFA Champions League Group H.

A 2-0 loss in Portugal on Matchday 3 kept Aleksandar Stanojević's men point-less in the group, and their chances of playing in Europe in the spring will likely disappear unless they get three points in Belgrade. A seasoned UEFA Champions League campaigner from his time at FC Schalke 04, Krstajić knows the pressure is on and hopes his colleagues will not shrink in the spotlight.

"They are aware that much is expected of them," said the 36-year-old, who won a Bundesliga title and a German Cup with SV Werder Bremen. "It is true that there is no great pressure on us to achieve in the Champions League this year, but we will have to take more risks than in previous games and at the same time be careful in defence. The less experienced players should be calm and collected, and focus on the good of the team."

The defeat on Matchday 3 came despite Partizan dominating possession at the picturesque Estádio Municipal de Braga, and the 2009/10 Liga runners-up's ability to hare forward on the break was not lost on Krstajić. "They have quick strikers and are strong on the counter," the centre-back said. "If we lose the ball in midfield, three or four players can be in on goal in a moment. We need to stay tight on them."

Domingos Paciência's men made an impression on the 59-cap Serbian international, yet he does not doubt that – if they get everything right – Partizan can beat the Arsenalistas. "Braga have a fantastic team," he said. "However, regardless of what happened two weeks ago, we think we can deal with them. This time we need more concentration. And here in Belgrade, we will have to take more chances."