Small Club of the Week – Red Star Belgrade (2nd Award)

Note: This weekly series will look for teams outside of the top flights of European football to find true underdog stories of clubs well below the radar. Clubs will be featured based on performance in the various tournaments that happen concurrently with the league seasons, or even strong runs in some of the leagues that dot the European football landscape. Chances are, these clubs will be years away from finding a home at the top flights of football – if they are ever able to get there – but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve attention from time to time. If you happen upon a team that you think might qualify, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter @GuruEbby or @SportMuseNet!

Additionally, since there hasn’t been any matches played in the other tournaments I usually pull from for this series – though the FA Cup will play its first round this weekend – I’ve decided to revisit one of our previously featured teams in the series this week, due to their unexpected win in Champions League yesterday.

Red Star Belgrade (FK Crvena zvezda)

Nickname: The Red-Whites
Founded: 4 March 1945
Location: Belgrade, Serbia
Team Colors: Red & White
Ground: Rajko Mitić Stadium
Capacity: 55,538
Current League: Serbian SuperLiga (Tier 1 of Serbian Association)
Twitter: @crvenazvezda_en

Reason For Notice

Red Star started with a draw in the Champions League group stage, a result I covered in the recap of Matchday 1 in the tournament. That scoreless draw was followed up with two (expected) losses to Paris Saint-Germain (6-1) and Liverpool (4-0) that left them in last place in Group C after three matches. Nevertheless, they managed to overcome that same Liverpool team on Matchday 4, winning 2-0 at home behind two first half goals from Milan Pavkov. They are still in fourth place in the group, but their path to perhaps finishing third and moving on to Europa League has increased, with FiveThirtyEight giving them a 14% chance of finishing third in the group. They have to win at least one of two matches that remain, especially because they have a goal differential of -7, so they would most likely lose a tiebreaker should they end up tied with another club.

Read moreSmall Club of the Week – Red Star Belgrade (2nd Award)

Dark Horse Chronicles – Birmingham City

This week’s Darkhorse Chronicles takes us back to the EFL Championship where we take a look at Birmingham City, a club that’s shown substantial improvement over last season. They finished last season in 19th place and so far they’ve made a substantial improvement this season where they reside in 10th.

Birmingham City’s last outing in the Premier League was in 2007-2008 although they were unable to stave off relegation. They were 1 point short of staying up, had they managed 1 more point it would have been Fulham sent down instead of them. Their goal difference was 6 better than Fulham, and stayed up on a 1-0 win over Portsmouth on the final Matchday.

If Birmingham are able to keep up this pace they’d finish with just over 66 points on the season, which would have had them in 11th place last season. This would be a nice change for the Blues, who have finish consecutive seasons in 19th place. This would also have them on pace for 57 goals and 49 concessions, finishing the season +8 on goal differential. If their end result is anywhere near our projections it’s a dramatic improvement. In 2016-2017, Birmingham scored 45 and conceded 64 for a goal differential of -19 which while not ideal by any means, was the better of the years. 2017-2018 had the scoring only 38 and conceding 68 for a goal differential of -30. They’ve done pretty well against the top teams in the league so far, with only a loss to Leeds United.

Read moreDark Horse Chronicles – Birmingham City