Partizan Belgrade

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Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves travel to stadium burdened by racial abuse

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Manchester United hopes to build off Monday momentum when it visits Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League, though the hosts have some off-field aims following a pair of closed-door matches due to racist behavior.

Partizan boss Savo Milosevic, a former Aston Villa striker, has vowed that the match will be void of racism and a “celebration of football.”

United players Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford were part of an ugly atmosphere in Bulgaria while on England duty — something Maguire called “sickening” — but believe things will be better in Belgrade.

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Maguire is set for a new experience in the tie should he start, sort of. Maguire played a UEL qualifying round match with Hull City in 2014, but this is his first start in a European tournament proper. From ManUtd.com:

“Playing in Europe is another challenge,” he said. “It’s something I’m looking forward to, something I’m relishing. I want to play in the biggest games with the biggest pressure and that’s why I signed for a club like Man United, one of the biggest in the world. I’m looking forward to challenging myself under the lights in European football.”

United kicks off at 12:55 p.m. ET as one of two early starts for Premier League teams.

Wolves begin back-to-back matches against Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia, another situation where the hosts are dealing with recent racial problems.

Thursday’s match was supposed to be behind closed doors, but UEFA have allowed ticket giveaways to youth players and school kids. Wolves aren’t exactly impressed at the lessened punishment.

Here’s Matt Doherty, who says his Wolves will gladly leave the pitch if there’s a problem of any kind. From The Birmingham Mail:

“If it comes to it when players feel uncomfortable then I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Doherty adds. “I would hate to be in a position where you have to choose. I would hate that, so hopefully it doesn’t happen. I would be more in the mind of trying to beat them on the pitch.”

Wolves have a win and a loss, leaving them a point behind their Thursday opponents and Braga.

The lone PL club kicking off at 3 p.m. is Arsenal, the Gunners having played very well in the Europa League but fairly substandard in the league.

Arsenal is one of five 2-0 teams in the UEL, and can essentially cement their place in the next round by dealing with Vitoria at the Emirates Stadium.

Europa League full slate

12:55 pm. ET
Besiktas v. Braga
Roma v. Borussia Monchengladbach
CSKA Moscow v. Ferencvaros
Partizan Belgrade v. Manchester United
Qarabag v. APOEL Nicosia
Ludogorets Razgrad v. Espanyol
Slovan Bratislava v. Wolves
Porto v. Rangers
Saint-Etienne v. Oleksandriya
Gent v. Wolfsburg
Istanbul Basaksehir v. Wolfsberg
Young Boys v. Feyenoord
AZ Alkmaar v. Astana

3 p.m. ET
Celtic v. Lazio
Sevilla v. Dudelange
Arsenal v. Vitoria
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Standard Liege
Rennes v. CFR Cluj
Sporting Lisbon v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Basel
Dynamo Kyiv v. Copenhagen
Malmo v. Lugano
PSV Eindhoven v. LASK
Trabzonspor v. Krasnodar

26 people arrested after massive soccer fan brawl in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Police in Serbia have arrested 26 people after a massive fan brawl during a soccer match between Belgrade rivals Red Star and Partizan left at least 20 people injured.

Police say foreign nationals are among those who were detained after Wednesday’s match, which ended 1-1. They did not specify the nationalities.

The brawl erupted between two rival Partizan fan groups. Several people suffered head injuries and burns from torches. Some fans were stripped naked before being kicked out of the stands as riot police intervened with batons.

Clashes between Partizan and Red Star fans have been common for one of the world’s most intense soccer rivalries.

With the draw, Red Star is leading Partizan by nine points halfway through the championship.

Fan racism earns Serbian champion two-game stadium ban

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) Serbian soccer champion Partizan Belgrade must play its next two European home games in an empty stadium as punishment for fan racism and crowd unrest.

Partizan was charged by UEFA with various offenses including racist behavior, firework use, and pitch invasions following two Champions League qualifying games against Montenegro’s Buducnost and Greek team Olympiakos.

[ MORE: Van Dijk signs transfer request ]

Besides the two-game empty stadium ruling, UEFA also hit Partizan with one more game behind closed doors, suspended for three years, and a fine of 130,000 euros ($153,000).

Partizan beat Buducnost 2-0 on aggregate, but lost to Olympiakos 5-3 over two legs in the next round.

Its first game behind closed doors will be a Europa League playoff round meeting with Hungarian club Videoton on Aug. 17.

Partizan Belgrade banned from UEFA competition for 3 years

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Gotta pay your bills, guys and girls.

Partizan Belgrade will not be able to compete in European competition for the next three years after FIFA ruled its continually failed to pay debts.

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Partizan has 25 titles across three leagues in its history. Adem Llajic (Torino) and Stevan Jovetic (Sevilla) came through its youth ranks.

From the AP:

The ruling from UEFA says the 2015 Serbian champions had racked up almost 2.5 million euros ($2.6 million) in unpaid debts as of September, most of it to social and tax authorities in Serbia.

This could lead to an exodus of players from Partizan, even in this window.

Follow @NicholasMendola

UEFA Champions League roundup: Hosts, including Manchester United, go five-for-five in playoff first legs

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Aside from a pair of away goals, the five visiting sides of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff first legs don’t have much to do beside lick their wounds and hope for something better at home.

CSKA Moscow and Club Brugge both scored on the road, but both also lost on Tuesday. And Bayer Leverkusen, Partizan Belgrade and APOEL Nicosia find themselves down 1-0 after 90 road minutes.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Here are your quick recaps:

Manchester United 3-1 Club Brugge
— RECAP | Van Gaal reacts

Memphis Depay scored twice and added a valuable stoppage time assist as the Red Devils overcame an early Michael Carrick own goal to set themselves up well for next Wednesday’s second leg in Belgium.

Lazio 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Keita Balde Diao scored in the 77th minute, eight minutes after Bayer had a goal controversially but correctly ruled offside.

BATE Borisov 1-0 Partizan Belgrade
The visitors went down to 10 men after a first half stoppage time red card, and Mikhail Gordeychuk reaped the rewards off a corner kick with a quarter hour to play.

Astana 1-0 APOEL Nicosia
Eleven-times capped Kazakh midfielder Bauryzhan Dzolchiev, 25, scored the lone goal of a close match in the 13th minute.

source: AP
Ruiz (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Sporting Lisbon 2-1 CSKA Moscow
Islam Slimani’s 82nd minute goal lifts the Portuguese side into a first leg lead. Seydou Doumbia scored for the visitors. Costa Rican attacker Bryan Ruiz had an assist for the victors.

Wednesday’s UCL first legs (all at 2:45 p.m. ET)
Valencia vs. Monaco
Basel vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Celtic vs. Malmo
Rapid Wien vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Skenderbeu vs. GNK Dinamo