The Serbian champions advanced to the group stage of European club football’s premier competition on the away-goals rule when they came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Red Bull Salzburg last month.
That achievement was tarnished, though, by their fans’ poor behaviour and the dismissal from the bench of assistant coach Milan Kosanovic.
Having found Red Star’s fans guilty of invading the pitch, setting off fireworks, damaging Salzburg’s stadium and throwing objects, the UEFA disciplinary body has effectively banned the club’s supporters from the next two European games. This means they will not be able to visit PSG on October 3 and Liverpool on October 24.
The club has also been fined €30,000 and been ordered to pay for the damage caused at Salzburg within 30 days. Kosanovic has also been banned for the PSG game.
Salzburg, however, have also been fined €23,000 for their fans’ pitch invasions during the game and blocking stairways.
It’s the question that haunts Fantasy Premier League managers this season and with several Wildcard chips being played over the international break, it has only become more relevant.
The outlook of your team can be completely different depending on which Liverpool attacker you decide to go with. The current 3.1m gulf in value can transform your team one way or the other. Going with both however, is highly unprecedented and not entirely efficient as you would sacrifice on premium assets from other teams.
On the one hand we have Salah who in just his first season, established himself as FPL royalty and is already a Hall of Famer. On the other is Mane, who spent last season in his team-mate’s shadow but is threatening to steal his crown this term.
WHY CHOOSE MANE
The Senegalese international has scored four goals already and is playing in a similar role to Salah on the opposite flank. He started at a value 4m cheaper than Salah at 9m but has since risen to 9.9m because of his good form.
Even now, the 3.1m saved from opting for him over the Egyptian can enable you to afford another premium midfielder as well like Eden Hazard (10.7m). Choosing Salah would mean surrendering that luxury and settling for a mid-range midfielder instead in the region of 7m.
In terms of value, Mane is currently twice as good as Salah. According to the FPL’s Value index (form vs price), he boasts a ratings of 1.0 to Salah’s 0.5.
WHY CHOOSE SALAH
For starters, he delivered 303 points last season, an all-time high, and deserves more than four gameweeks of your loyalty. He hasn’t done badly either, he just hasn’t hit the heights of last season yet.
However, his underlying stats are identical to what they were last term, suggesting that he’s currently underachieving while Mane is clearly overachieving. Sooner or later, it will start to tell in the points column.
An under-performing Salah has still managed two goals and two assists so far. Not too shabby at all. He also doubles Mane in terms of key passes per game (3.3 to 1.5) and shots per game (4.8 to 2.5).
What is more likely? Mane continues to put away every chance and maintain the kind of run in form he has never achieved before or Salah starts to be a little more efficient and surpass him?
Last season’s Player the Year has more shots at goal and is attempting more assists that his team-mate. At the end of the day, it may just come down to Salah taking his chances. The Egyptian has missed four big chances so far this season, Mane has missed none.
Red Star Belgrade have pledged to protect Xherdan Shaqiri from “unwanted situations” when the Liverpool winger arrives for their Champions League group match in November.
However, general director Zvezdan Terzic believes the Switzerland international, born in the former Yugoslavia to Kosovan-Albanian parents, will be under “unbelievable psychological pressure” because of his background.
Shaqiri courted controversy during the World Cup when he celebrated a last-minute winner against Serbia with an ‘Albanian Eagle’ gesture.
He and Swiss team-mates Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner were all fined for unsporting behaviour for making the gesture, which symbolises the Albanian flag.
“Personally, I can’t imagine that an Albanian will play for Red Star,” Terzic told Belgrade newspaper Kurir.
“I think that Shaqiri will be under unbelievable psychological pressure because he will know where he is coming; he knows that the Red Star is a symbol of Serbia and playing the Marakana, I don’t know whether he will play.
“Of course, as a soccer club, we treat our rivals equally, and we do not have to deal with the past and the history.
“Red Star must do everything to make Shaqiri feel that he came to play football and it is our duty to protect him in the case of unwanted situations. Let’s be good hosts.”
Shaqiri was born in the former Yugoslav city of Gjilan, now part of Kosovo, where a Serbian crackdown on the Albanian population ended with Nato military intervention in 1999.
Kosovo, with a mainly Albanian population, declared independence in 2008 but Serbia refuses to recognise it as a state and it has led to tense relations between the two countries.