European champions in 1991, Crvena zvezda make their group stage debut against Napoli.
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Champions of Europe in 1990/91, Crvena zvezda kick off their debut UEFA Champions League group campaign with a home match against Napoli, who are out to make an impression in the competition having bowed out early last season.
• This is the teams' first fixture, and Napoli's first trip to Serbia in almost 40 years, while Crvena zvezda will be aiming to improve their record against Italian clubs, with fixtures against Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool to come. Furthermore, they can become the first Serbian club to win a game in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final.
• Champions of Serbia in 2017/18, when they reached the UEFA Europa League round of 32, Crvena zvezda came through four qualifying rounds to reach the group stage – the first time they had successfully negotiated the UEFA Champions League preliminaries at the seventh attempt.
• Crvena zvezda kicked off this season in the first qualifying round, where they got the better of Latvia's Spartaks Jūrmala 2-0 on aggregate. Lithuania's Sūduva were beaten 5-0 over two legs in the second qualifying round, before extra time secured a 2-1 away win at Slovakia's Spartak Trnava in the third qualifying round second leg to complete a 3-2 aggregate victory. They came from 2-0 down to draw at Salzburg in the play-off second leg, going through on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.
• Crvena zvezda have lost only two of their last 17 European games (W7 D8).
• The Belgrade club are six European home matches unbeaten (W3 D3) since a 1-0 reverse against Arsenal in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage. That is their only defeat in their last 13 European home matches (W7 D5). They have conceded just five goals in those 13 fixtures – and never more than one in any game.
• Crvena zvezda have won only two of their 19 fixtures against Italian clubs, most recently a 3-1 home win against Roma in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage – their sole home success. Their record home and away since then is D1 L3.
• This is only the third season Serbia has had a team in the group stage, after Partizan's participations in 2003/04 and 2010/11.
• Serie A runners-up in 2017/18, Napoli are in the group stage for the fifth time – all in the last eight seasons. They reached the round of 16 in 2011/12 and 2016/17.
• The Italian club finished third in their section last season – losing all three away games 2-1 – and went on to the UEFA Europa League round of 32, where they lost to RB Leipzig.
• Napoli have lost their last four away matches in the UEFA Champions League proper.
• The Naples outfit have won only one of their five matches against Serbian opposition (D2 L2) – a 3-1 home win against OFK Beograd in the 1962/63 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final second leg, although they went on to lose the replay by the same score. Their last fixtures came in the 1981/82 UEFA Cup first round, when they lost on away goals to Radnicki Niš (2-2 home, 0-0 away).
Links and trivia
• Napoli's Serbian centre-back Nikola Maksimović was at Crvena zvezda in 2012, scoring once in his 25 appearances.
• Have played in Italy:
Nenad Krstičić (Sampdoria, 2008–16, Bologna 2014/15 loan)
Marko Marin (Fiorentina 2014)
Richmond Boakye (Genoa 2010–12, Sassuolo 2011/12 & 2012/13 loans, Juventus 2012–14, Atalanta 2014/15, Latina 2016–17)
• International team-mates:
Nikola Maksimović & Nenad Krstičić, Milan Rodić (Serbia)
• Summer transfers
In: Srdjan Babić (Real Sociedad), Lorenzo Ebecilio (APOEL), Dejan Meleg (Kayserispor), Rashid Sumaila (al-Qadisiya), Nikola Stojiljković (Braga), Veljko Simić (Zemun), Miloš Degenek (Yokohama), Zoran Popović (Bodø/Glimt), Dušan Jovančić (Vojvodina), Milan Jevtović (Antalyaspor), Milos Čupić (OFK Beograd)*, Jonathan Cafú (Bordeaux), Damjan Gojkov (Bežanija)*, Andrija Luković (Voždovac)*, Draško Djordjević (Bežanija)*, Filip Bainović (Rad)*, Stefan Cvetković (Grafičar), Jovan Vićić (Drina Zvornik)*, Vanja Vučićević (Spartak Subotica)*, Milan Senić (Grafičar)*, Aleksandar Stanković (Grafičar)*, Lazar Romanić (Borac)*, Zé Marcos (Rad)*, Milan Pavkov (Radnički Niš)*
Out: Aleksandar Pešić (Ittihad), Uroš Račić (Valencia), Luka Adžić (Anderlecht), Abraham Frimpong (Ferencváros), Mitchell Donald (Malatyaspor), Damjan Gojkov (Vojvodina), Filip Bainović (Rad), Draško Djordjević (al-Mojzel), Damien Le Tallec (Montpellier), Vanja Vučićević (Samara), Aleksandar Stanković (Grafičar), Jovan Vićić (Mačva), Andrija Luković (Voždovac), Miloš Čupić (Zlatibor), Dušan Andjelković (retired) Damir Kahriman (released), Milan Senić (released), Srdjan Babić (Real Sociedad), Luka Ilić (Manchester City)
*Not in UEFA Champions League squad
• Crvena zvezda are 30 matches unbeaten in all competitions (W24 D6), since the 1-0 loss at CSKA Moskva in last season's UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg, although they did lose on penalties in the Serbian Cup against Mačva on 14 March after a 0-0 draw.
• The Serbian champions have won all seven games in this season's Super League, making it 17 in a row. They beat Radnik Surdulica 6-0 on Saturday, their biggest win since a 7-0 success against Latvia's Ventspils in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round on 4 August 2011.
• Milan Rodić (Serbia) and Miloš Degenek (Australia) were both included in their respective country's squad at this summer's FIFA World Cup, although neither made an appearance.
• El Fardu Ben Nabouhane, who has scored five goals in his last three appearances for Crvena zvezda and Comoros, is carrying a minor injury and missed the Radnik Surdulica game.
• Summer transfers
In: Amin Younes* (Ajax), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Fabián Ruíz (Real Betis), Alex Meret (Udinese), Orestis Karnezis (Udinese), Vinícius Morais (Real SC), Amato Ciciretti (Benevento), Kévin Malcuit (LOSC Lille), David Ospina (Arsenal, loan)
Out: Pepe Reina (AC Milan), Emanuele Giaccherini (Chievo Verona), Jorginho (Chelsea), Gennaro Tutino (Carpi, loan), Zinédine Machach (Carpi, loan), Roberto Insigne (Benevento, loan), Amato Ciciretti (Parma, loan), Alberto Grassi (Parma, loan), Roberto Inglese (Parma, loan), Lorenzo Tonelli (Sampdoria, loan), Vinícius Morais (Rio Ave, loan)
*Not in UEFA Champions League squad
• Under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, Napoli started the new Serie A season with comeback victories against Lazio and Milan before losing 3-0 at Sampdoria.
• The Partenopei were 1-0 winners at home to Fiorentina on Saturday, their first clean sheet of the season and just their second in their last eight matches. Lorenzo Insigne scored the only goal, his 50th in Serie A.
• Napoli have nevertheless conceded six goals in their first four games – four more than at the same stage of 2017/18.
• Piotr Zieliński, who scored twice in the 3-2 win against Milan, also found the net in Poland's 1-1 draw against Italy in their opening UEFA Nations League game, all scored past goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
• Dries Mertens made six appearances as Belgium finished third at this summer's FIFA World Cup, scoring against Panama in the group stage.
• Goalkeeper Alex Meret broke his arm soon after joining Napoli this summer, while Faouzi Ghoulam underwent knee surgery in July having not played since 1 November 2017.
• New signing Amin Younes has had an operation on a ruptured Achilles tendon; Vlad Chiricheş ruptured the cruciate ligament in his left knee in Romania's game against Montenegro on 7 September.
• On 1 September Kalidou Koulibaly extended his contract until 2023.