The two front-runners in Group L meet in Belgrade as Partizan host a Manchester United side on a long unbeaten run.
Article top media content
The two front-runners in Group L meet in Belgrade as Partizan host a Manchester United side who are hoping to extend a long unbeaten run in the UEFA Europa League.
• Partizan drew 2-2 at home to AZ Alkmaar on Matchday 1 thanks to a double from Bibras Natcho before Umar Sadiq struck twice to earn a 2-1 win at Astana. United, meanwhile, have just one goal to show from their first two fixtures – scored by teenager Mason Greenwood in an opening 1-0 win at home to Astana – but have yet to concede following their Matchday 2 goalless draw against AZ in The Hague.
• The clubs have not met since their 1965/66 European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final, which Partizan won 2-1 on aggregate thanks to a first-leg 2-0 victory in Belgrade.
• That is just one of four wins Partizan have managed in 15 games against English clubs, the most recent of those – 1-0 at Newcastle United in the final qualifying round of the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League – being their sole away win and heralding a penalty shoot-out triumph that put them into the competition's group stage for the first time. At home Partizan are without a win against English visitors in four matches (D1 L3), their most recent victory also coming against Newcastle, 1-0 in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round.
• Manchester United last faced Serbian opposition in the 1991 UEFA Super Cup, which was a one-off match played at Old Trafford and won 1-0 by the home team. Their first of only two trips to Serbia will forever be overshadowed by tragedy as their 3-3 draw at Crvena zvezda in the quarter-final second leg of the 1957/58 European Cup – which completed a 5-4 aggregate win – was the last match played by the famous Busby Babes before the Munich air crash on the return journey.
• Third in the Serbian Superliga last term, Partizan won the domestic cup for the fourth year running, defeating league champions Crvena zvezda 1-0 in the final. In Europe they came through three UEFA Europa League qualifiers before losing out to Beşiktaş in the play-offs (1-1 h, 0-3 a).
• This season Partizan entered the competition a round later, defeating Connah's Quay and Malatyaspor and edging past Norwegian side Molde in the play-offs (2-1 h, 1-1 a) to book a sixth group stage berth. After failing to gain further progress on their first four attempts, the Serbian side succeeded on their most recent participation, in 2017/18, before falling in the round of 32 to Viktoria Plzeň (1-1 h, 0-2 a).
• Victorious at home in all three of this season's qualifying games prior to the draw with AZ, Partizan are now unbeaten in Belgrade by European opposition in 11 matches (W8 D3). However, they have won just four of their 16 home UEFA Europa League group stage fixtures, losing seven.
• The three-time champions of Europe finished sixth in the 2018/19 Premier League, which meant direct access to the UEFA Europa League. They were quarter-finalists in last season's UEFA Champions League, going out to Barcelona after a remarkable round of 16 second-leg comeback against Paris Saint-Germain (0-2 h, 3-1 a).
• United have appeared in three previous UEFA Europa League campaigns, but this is only their second group stage start, the previous one three seasons ago having ended in outright victory under manager José Mourinho against Ajax in Stockholm. The Manchester giants exited in the round of 16 on their other two participations.
• The Red Devils' away record in 12 UEFA Europa League fixtures is W4 D3 L5, with no defeats in the past six (W3 D3). Indeed, United are now undefeated home and away in 13 UEFA Europa League matches (W9 D4), keeping clean sheets in nine of those and conceding just four goals over that stretch.
Links and trivia
• Partizan coach Savo Milošević played in England for Aston Villa from 1995–98, joining the Birmingham side from Partizan for a then club-record fee and winning the League Cup in his debut season. He faced Manchester United six times in the Premier League but did not score against them, three of those games featuring current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær in the opposition ranks.
• Partizan's Zoran Tošić was a United player from January 2009 until June 2010 but only played five matches for the club.
• Vladimir Stojković (Wigan, Nottingham Forest) and Lazar Marković (Liverpool) have also played in England.
• United midfielder Nemanja Matić has been a Serbia national team-mate of four Partizan players – Tošić, Stojković, Marković and Nemanja Miletić.
• Matić and Marković played together at Benfica in the first half of the 2013/14 season that ended with a Liga triumph. United's Victor Lindelöf also made his Benfica debut in that campaign.
• Short of managerial experience but a key figure at the club with whom he started his career in the early 1990s, Milošević was appointed as Partizan's head coach in March 2019 and within less than two months had steered the Belgrade club to victory in the Serbian Cup. A powerful left-footed striker, he scored 37 goals in 102 international appearances, five of them for Yugoslavia at UEFA EURO 2000, where he was the tournament's joint top marksman. He left Partizan for Aston Villa in 1995 and later played in Spain (Zaragoza, Espanyol, Celta Vigo, Osasuna) and Italy (Parma) before ending his career with a Russian league title at Rubin.
• A former Old Trafford favourite, whose legendary status at the club was confirmed with his added-time winner in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final against Bayern München, Solskjær returned to Manchester United as interim manager in December 2018, replacing Mourinho, before securing the position on a permanent basis the following March. A former Norwegian international striker renowned for his predatory goalscoring, he won six Premier League titles as a United player and established his reputation as a coach in his homeland with Molde.
The FootballPeople weeks take place from 10 to 24 October 2019 and are organised by UEFA's social responsibility partner Fare. The weeks are a global campaign aimed at tackling discrimination and celebrating diversity in football. The UEFA Europa League is offering its full support to the FootballPeople weeks; teams will line up for a mixed photo with the referees, while an #EqualGame hashtag will also be on display. Videos will be played on giant screens at stadiums across Europe, and child mascots will be wearing #FootballPeople t-shirts. UEFA's collaboration with the Fare network's FootballPeople weeks has been running since 2001. The aim of this initiative fits in perfectly with the goals of #EqualGame, which is looking to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility.