Crvena zvezda or Salzburg will earn a long-awaited reward when the pair meet in the UEFA Champions League play-offs with a place in the group stage the prize for the winners.
• European champions in 1991, Crvena zvezda have never reached the group stage of the UEFA Champions League and survived into the spring of a UEFA competition for the first time since 1991/92 last season, reaching the UEFA Europa League round of 32 – a competition in which Salzburg went all the way to the semi-finals.
• The teams’ tie in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup second round is also each side’s only previous experience against a club from the opposing country. Crvena zvezda had the better of that contest, going through on away goals after a 2-1 away loss was followed by a 1-0 victory in Belgrade.
• Champions of Serbia in 2017/18, Crvena zvezda kicked off this season in the UEFA Champions League 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.
• Crvena zvezda have lost only two of their last 15 European games (W7 D6).
• The Belgrade club are five European home matches unbeaten (W3 D2) since a 1-0 reverse against Arsenal in last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage. That is their only defeat in their last 12 European home matches (W7 D4). They have conceded just five goals in those dozen fixtures – and never more than one in any game.
• This is Crvena zvzeda’s first UEFA Champions League play-off; their record at this stage of the UEFA Europa League is W1 L4, the sole success coming on away goals against Russian side Krasnodar in 2017/18.
• Crvena zvezda have played in six previous UEFA Champions League qualifying campaigns.
• The Austrian club won a fifth successive Bundesliga title in 2017/18 – their 12th overall.
• Salzburg have lost only two of their last 25 European games (W15 D8).
• Salzburg’s sole previous UEFA Champions League group stage appearance came in 1994/95, their European Cup debut. They entered this season’s UEFA Champions League in the third qualifying round, where they defeated Shkëndija of FYR Macedonia 4-0 on aggregate (3-0 home, 1-0 away).
• Salzburg have lost in the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds in each of the last six seasons – and have made 12 unsuccessful attempts to reach the group stage since their debut 24 years ago.
• In 2017/18, they were eliminated on away goals by Croatia’s Rijeka in the third qualifying round. However, that led to a memorable UEFA Europa League campaign, with Real Sociedad, Borussia Dortmund and Lazio all overcome en route to a semi-final loss against Marseille after extra time.
• Salzburg’s record in UEFA Champions League play-offs is W0 L4. At the same stage of the UEFA Europa League, it is W3 L1, their solitary defeat coming on penalties against Dinamo Minsk in 2015/16.
Links and trivia
• Crvena zvezda defender Filip Stojković and Marin Pongračić of Salzburg were team-mates at 1860 München in 2016/17.