Red Star Belgrade vs OlympiakosUEFA Champions League, KO: 20:00 Oct 1, 2019, Red Star Stadium
RED STAR BELGRADE will sadly never reach the same heights they scaled when conquering Europe with a hugely talented side back in 1991.
But they remain a formidable force on home soil – as Liverpool found out to their cost in last season's group stage before eventually being crowned kings of the continent themselves.
Red Star's triumph over Marseille on penalties after a forgettable final in Bari came just before the fall of Yugoslavia and a brutal civil war that left deep scars across the region.
The team that beat Marseille to lift Europe's greatest prize contained top players from Serbia (Darko Pancev, Vladimir Jugovic and Sinisa Mihajlovic), Croatia (Robert Prosinecki), Montenegro (Dejan Savicevic) and Macedonia (Ilija Najdoski).
But it's hard to imagine the squad featuring such a diverse range of Slavic talent these days and Red Star are now represented mostly by Serbs with a sprinkling of foreigners.
Local talent is also now snapped up far quicker by clubs from Europe's biggest leagues so it's hard for the Serbian champions to piece together a side capable of challenging in Europe.
But after years in doldrums, Red Star are baring their teeth again on the big stage, qualifying for the Champions League groups in successive seasons. Having not graced the group stage since the defence of their crown in 1992, the Serbs made the most of their return last year.
Nobody gave them a prayer after being drawn alongside Liverpool, PSG and Napoli but Red Star gave the big boys a few bloody noses before eventually finishing bottom of the pile.
They memorably beat Jurgen Klopp's side 2-0 at home and followed that up by holding Napoli to a 0-0 draw in Belgrade, although PSG dished out a 4-1 thrashing when they came calling.
But that is just one of two defeats in Serbia in their last 20 European encounters, a remarkable record that gives them real hope of taking something from Olympiakos.
Red Star won 10 of those games and drew the other eight so plenty of punters might be tempted to back the home win here at 43/20 with Unibet.
Although Vladan Milojevic's side lost 3-0 at Bayern Munich in the group opener they were still in the game before the Germans netted twice in the last 10 minutes to wrap up the victory.
When you factor in that Red Star saw off FC Copenhagen and Young Boys of Switzerland in the qualifiers then it proves they are a dangerous side.
However, it was away form that saw them through both those ties, after drawing 1-1 each time in Belgrade, and I've a feeling this could end in another stalemate, which is 12/5 with BetVictor. A repeat of that 1-1 scoreline also pays 23/4 at Sportingbet.
Olympiakos came from 2-0 down at home to Spurs to snatch a point in their group opener and that shows they are a resolute team. Even though Greek sides are generally poor travellers, I fancy them to do enough to claim another share of the spoils.
Olympiakos are unbeaten in 13 games this season and that's no mean feat as they had to see off Czech side Viktoria Plzen, Turks Basaksehir and Krasnodar in the qualifiers.
The play-off win over the Russians was particularly impressive, winning home and away for a thumping 6-1 aggregate triumph, so the trip to Belgrade will hold no fears for them.
Since drawing a blank in their first game of the season in Plzen, the Greeks have scored in every game so both teams to score seems a good choice here at 83/100 with Marathonbet.
Milan Pavkov looks like Red Star's best bet for a goal as he has netted six times already this season, including two strikes in the Champions League qualifiers. He scored both goals in that famous win over Liverpool and takes penalties as well so is good value at 14/5 with 888Sport for anytime scorer.
However, Pavkov has missed the last two games so it's not certain he will start. If he fails to make the squad then try Dutch striker Rajiv van la Parra who is an excellent 19/4 for anytime scorer at 888Sport.
For Olympiakos, I like the look of Spanish striker Miguel Angel Guerrero who netted in this month's derby with Panathinaikos to take his tally for the season to four. Guerrero is 12/5 with 888Sport to net at any time.
Red Star's four home games in Europe have been feisty affairs so far this season with a combined 20 yellows and two reds. That suggests this could be hot to handle so I fancy over 3.5 cards but it's priced just 4/9 with William Hill. For better value try backing a red card which is 3/1 with Unibet.
This UEFA Champions League match between Red Star Belgrade and Olympiakos will be played on Oct 1, 2019 and kick off at 20:00