Throwback to my visit of the Eternal Derby in Belgrade

📆 23-9-2018

🏆 Serbian First Division

⚽ FK Partizan – FK Crvena Zvezda 1-1

🏟️FK Partizan Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia.

On September 7, I left for a trip through Croatia and Bosnia and ended 15 days later in Belgrade where I attended the Partizan-Red Star derby or Veciti Derby as an absolute highlight of the trip. After I missed the derby last year due to a last-minute shift of the match with one day, I was certain and booked my return flight a day later this year. And yes, this year too, the game was delayed by 1 day, so I had estimated this correctly.

I arrive in Belgrade on Friday afternoon after a long 6-hour bus ride from Sarajevo. I am welcomed by Ivan from Homefans, our local tripleader who will show us around in Belgrade. It was a pleasant reunion since I know Ivan from the Argentina trip that I also did with Homefans. I am the first of a very international group arriving on Serbian soil, so I have to wait a while for the others to arrive during the day. We are with a group of 15, the majority from the Netherlands and Great Britain and also 2 guys from Israel. When the first group of Dutch arrives, we decide to explore the city and are dropped off at Republic Square, the epic center of Belgrade. We go through the main shopping street Knez Mihailova and take a look at Kalemegdan park, the fort that has a beautiful view of the city and where the rivers Sava and the Danube meet. After a few beers in the park we go to Gunners pub where we meet the rest of the group.

The stadium tours are scheduled on Saturday. We start with the Red Star stadium, Rajko Mitic, also known as Marakana. When entering the stadium you see on the left the statue of Rajko Mitic, the legendary player and coach after whom the stadium is named. We get a guided tour from a club employee through the trophy room, which can be called impressive at least. Of course, extra attention is paid to the team that won the European Cup in 1991 with top players like Prosinecki, Savicevic, Jugovic and Mihajlovic. Afterwards we get a nice view from the main stand on this impressive stadium in which 53,000 fans can take a seat. Thanks to Ivan, we were allowed to go through the mythical players’ tunnel and to the edge of the field where the Red Star athletics club was currently training. For those who have not yet seen the video in the players tunnel on social media, you can find the link here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57RGGDTHbFA

The Partizan stadium is only 500 meters away. Partizan was originally the club of the army. Around the stadium you will find the many impressive street art and murals. This stadium is less impressive but has a very special look and feel. In the catacombs you really have the feeling that you are in a prison.

In the evening we meet at Skadarlija where we will have a typical Serbian dinner. Thanks to the rakija, the national pride of the Serbs, the atmosphere is immediately very good. Afterwards we go to a boat club on the Sava river where the party lasts until the early hours.

Sunday is Matchday! Since alcohol is not allowed 6 kilometers around the stadium, we first go to an Irish pub in the city center to drink some beers to get in the mood. We leave for the stadium with a minibus, almost 2 hours before the start of the match. The police are present to an extremely high degree. I have never seen so many police people in and around a stadium. The security people leave nothing to chance, even my last Serbian coins are not allowed in the stadium. The atmosphere in the stadium starts late. When the “himna Partizana” goes through the speakers, the Partizan fans set the tone. On the field, the home team also starts the match the strongest. Partizan misses the 1-0 in the opening minutes due to a mistouch from the Red star goalkeeper. Partizan goes further than expected and in the 33’s Gomes scores the well-deserved opening goal. Behind the goal, the stand is literally and figuratively on fire.

In the 2nd half, Red Star comes more and more into the game and the inevitable happens. After a questionable phase, where it is not clear whether the ball is behind the line or not, Richmond Boakye heads the equalizer. Now the pyro show starts on the other side of the stadium in the visitors’ area. The match on the field continues, but in addition to the field both supporters’ clans remain very active. The match ends with a 1-1 draw, a result where especially Red Star gets away well.

The Belgrade derby is definitely a game that you must have experienced. The atmosphere and experience in the stadium is quite unique throughout Europe. The quality of the game on the field, however, is a lot less than the experience next to the field but that was to be expected.

To give you a better impression of the atmosphere please check my YouTube page and Instagram account:

YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/aru5HCGTn74

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/more_than_90minutes/

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