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Unhappy memories and a new destination

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Unhappy memories and a new destination

Postby FCBayernNews » Tue Oct 09, 2007 11:29 pm

09.10.2007

Bayern’s first group fixture involves a trip to face <b>FK Crvena Zvezda</b>, perhaps better known under the anglicised name of Red Star Belgrade, a club provoking mixed emotions in Munich. The Bavarians recorded a narrow aggregate victory in the 1979-80 UEFA Cup Round of 16 with a 2-0 win on home soil followed by a 3-2 defeat in Belgrade, but the most recent meeting in the 1990-91 European Champions Cup semi-finals evokes painful memories for Germany’s leading club.

Bayern fell 2-1 at home despite taking the lead with a Wohlfahrt strike, but the Bavarians looked like turning the tables in the return as goals from Augenthaler and Bender saw Munich 2-1 ahead with full time fast approaching. Extra-time looked on the cards, until Augenthaler turned from hero to villain with an unlucky last-minute own goal to seal the Reds’ exit.

<b>Domestic giants</b>

Belgrade went on to win the European Cup and then the World Club Cup, the greatest triumphs in a roll of honour featuring 25 domestic championships and 22 Cup triumphs. Red Star, who play at a 55,000 capacity stadium locally known as the Marakana, remain the dominant force in Serbian football and have claimed back-to-back Cup and league doubles in the last two seasons.

The picture has been less rosy on the European stage of late. The Serbs fell in the UEFA Cup first round last term, and the clock has to be wound back eleven years to 1996-7 for their last campaign of note, when they reached the European Cup Winners’ Cup Round of 16. Red Star have routinely failed to qualify for the Champions League proper, only surviving this season’s first qualifying round on away goals against Estonian unknowns Levadia, before losing 1-0 on aggregate to Glasgow giants Rangers in the second round.

<b>Outstanding youth section</b>

The disappointing first round display led to the dismissal of coach Bosko Djurovski after less than six months in the job. New boss Milorad Kosanovic took the helm in mid-August and could not prevent the defeat to Rangers, but he at least oversaw a 2-0 aggregate victory over Polish side Groclin Grodzisk in the UEFA Cup first round.

Red Star remain unbeaten in the Meridian SuperLiga this term, but already lie seven points off leaders Partizan Belgrade, albeit with a game in hand. Coach Kosanovic’s squad largely comprises promising but as yet unknown youngsters, a highly typical situation at a club regarded as one of the greatest youth academies in the Balkans and which numbers Sinisa Mihajlovic, Robert Prosinecki, Dejan Savicevic and Dragan Stojkoviæ as prominent old boys . The last-named became club president in 2005 on a promise to restore past glories.

<b>Braga struggling in seventh</b>

Bayern travel for the second time on 29 November with a trip to Portuguese top flight outfit <b>SC Braga</b>. The northerners finished fourth in Portugal last season to claim a UEFA Cup berth, but Sporting Clube Braga currently lie a disappointing seventh in the table on ten points from seven matches, fully eleven points off leaders Porto.

The club was founded in 1921 but the trophy cabinet boasts just one major accolade, a Cup triumph in 1966. Their most successful foray into Europe came in 1997-8 with an appearance in the UEFA Cup third round, where they lost to Schalke 04.

<b>'Golden Generation' provides coach and striker</b>

Based at the 30,000 capacity Estádio Municipal de Braga and coached by 35-year-old former international Jorge Costa, a member of the Champions League-winning Porto squad in 2004, the Portuguese eliminated Swedish club Hammarby to qualify for the group stage.

The undisputed star of the nation’s sole remaining representatives in the UEFA Cup is three-time Portuguese Player of the Year Joao Pinto. The former international collected serial championships and Cups with Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, and was a member of the so-called “Golden Generation” including Luis Figo, Rui Costa and current boss Jorge Costa, which rose to prominence by winning the 1991 U-20 World Cup on home soil.
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