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Milojević: Great occasion for the club

Head Coach Vladan Milojević spoke to the press ahead of tomorrow’s Europa League with Arsenal. That will be the third time the red-and-whites have ever played the Gunners.
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“At last we can speak about the Arsenal game. It’s going to be a huge occasion because we’ll host one of the best clubs in the world, a club that competes in, what is for me, Europe’s strongest league. We were happy when we were drawn with Arsenal because we haven’t had a game like that in a while. Our history demands that we face the biggest clubs all the time.”

“Arsenal play modern football. We will do our best and will compete with them. Our match preparations were no different to those before other games. I trust my players completely and I know that they don’t need any extra motivation for tomorrow’s clash.”

Even though Arsenal’s league form isn’t perfect, Milojević is under no illusions.

“They are an experienced side and their wins in Europe were well deserved and their defeats in the Premier League do not fool us – they are still an excellent team. Perhaps they will play without pressure because they are top of the group and firm favorites to qualify for the knockout stage.”

“I’m certain we’ll have great support from the stands, but I don’t know if that will be a problem for the visitors.”

“Even if they fielded a rotated team, that wouldn’t mean that they are underestimating us – Arsène Wenger doesn’t ever underestimate anyone. They participate in numerous competitions and that’s why they have so many players in their squad. They have many talented players who can’t wait to prove themselves to the manager. Whichever eleven start for Arsenal, they are a strong team. Make no mistake about that.”

Milojević won’t have all of his players available.

“Nemanja Milić won’t feature because he’s only returned to training yesterday. Ricardinho and Abraham Frimpong are also out injured. We will have to wait and see if Guélor Kanga recovers in time. He’s been injured since the match in Cologne.”

In the past two Europa League matches it was notable that Crvena zvezda players were getting exhausted as the games wore on.

“We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. It’s bound to be a big test physically. Arsenal come from a league that’s highly physical and their fitness levels are higher. Simply put, they are used to it and we are not. It’s the matches that maintain players’ overall fitness – not the training sessions. And they’ve got the advantage of playing highly demanding matches every week. But we will do our best and see where it leads us.”

Members of the Crvena zvezda team who beat Arsenal in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup reunited at Rajko Mitić Stadium yesterday and were honoured by the club and fans.

“It was great to see them together. I was eight when we won against the Gunners, so I wasn’t quite aware of all that was going on, but my father made sure I understood in the years that followed. He told me a lot about those games and that team. We’ve had those legends talking to our young players and offering advice. It was brilliant. You can’t buy things like that. They made an impact on my career and on the history of our club. I’m thankful to be able to speak to them.”

All tickets for tomorrow’s match have already been sold out and it delights Milojević.

“Our fans have already won. Now it’s up to us to do the same. We’re in it together.”


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