Naftan Novopol have been handed a tough Europa League draw having been pitted against former European Cup champions Red Star Belgrade. The Serbian side are no longer a force to be reckoned with in European football, but they are, nonetheless, favourites to win this clash.
Naftan Novopolotsk are not one of the well-known clubs from Belarus and they haven’t had a lot of success of late. The team finished last league campaign in 7th place, just five points above the relegation zone, but they impressed to win the Belarus Cup and thus earned their right to play in the Europa League qualifying stages. However, this season is showing Naftan lack the needed quality to play at this level given they are now in 8th place in the domestic league, after taking 17 points from as many games. Boasting mostly average players from former Soviet republics, the Belarus side don’t look good enough to stop Red Star from winning this game.
The former European Cup winners have been struggling to return to old glory days and they have now gone five years without winning the league title. The team have been showing some improvement under Robert Prosinecki and having kept most of the key players at the club, Red Star look like favourites against weak Naftan. Dusko Tosic and Cristian Borja left the club this summer, while Marko Jovanovic and Eli Babalj were signed to replace them, and the team look as strong as last season. After the slow start in pre-season friendlies, Red Star have showed a lot of improvement over the last few weeks and they look well prepared for what awaits them in Belarus.
In this match I give away advantages because I believe they have a little better structure and I think they can afford to provide good results for the second leg and even easier they will be here if record the victory.