Krasnodar vs Partizani – Europa League Preview

Krasnodar vs Partizani – Europa League Preview

FK Krasnodar vs Partizani is perhaps the most exotic Europa League playoff matchup between a team from Southern Russia, and the club from the Albanian capital Tirana.

Partizani reached this stage of the Europa League after Albania’s champion Skënderbeu Korça was eliminated from the Champions League qualifiers due to allegations of match fixing. Hence Partizani, which finished last season’s Albanian Superliga in second place, was given a chance to test themselves in the Champions League qualifiers.

Partizani then eliminated the Hungarian side Ferencváros in the second round of the UEFA Champions League qualification stage, but then fell to the Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg in the third stage. As a result Partizani were relegated to the UEFA Europa League, where they will now face Krasnodar in the playoffs.

For Partizani, and Albanian football in general, even reaching the group stage of the Europa League, would be a major achievement. Last season the above-mentioned Skënderbeu became the first Albanian club to participate in the group stage of the Europa League, and it would be a major success for Albanian football if Partizani could emulate that success.

For Partizani meanwhile the participation in the group stage could help the club to re-establish itself at the very top of Albanian football. During the communist era the club was easily Albania’s biggest, as their 15 championships in the period between 1947 and 1993 highlight.

Following the fall of communism in Albania, however, the club struggled and hasn’t won a national championship since 1993. Following the 2008-09 season the club was relegated to the first division (second tier), and in 2010-11 the club was relegated once again to the second division (third tier). The club returned to the second division after just one season, and then in 2013 Gazment Demi bought the club.

Under Demi the club returned to the Superliga, and within three seasons was able to challenge Skënderbeu for the title. As it turned out, however, Skënderbeu may have used illegal means to win last season’s title. Partizani finished the season just five points behind them, and was likely cheated out of their first title since 1993.

Now, however, they face their biggest challenge in the Russian club Krasnodar. FC Krasnodar, which was founded in 2008 by the businessman Sergey Galitsky, has quickly risen to the top of Russian football. Under Galitsky’s leadership the Bulls (as the club is called by its fans) have become a symbol of progress in Russian football.

Galitsky has invested not only in players but also into the infrastructure, including a new stadium in Krasnodar. Also while the club has been hit with Financial Fair Play sanctions, Galitsky has tried to maintain the club on a basis of self-sustainability—something that is almost unheard of in Russian football.

Galitsky’s long-term vision is to create a club that could challenge for the title in the Russian Football Premier League, and at the same time be competitive in Europe. Last season the club, stifled by FFP sanctions, only managed a slow start in the league, but reached the round of 32 of the Europa League after topping a group that included Borussia Dortmund.

After rallying in the second half of the 2015-16 season Krasnodar finished fourth in the RFPL. The squad, which is centred around superstars Pavel Mamaev and Fedor Smolov, who won the Russian scoring title last season, played a strong second half of the season, and almost managed to qualify for the Champions League.

With the club moving into a new brand new stadium this season, European football will be key to further develop the club into one of the most exciting brands in Russian football.

Possible Line-ups


Formation: 4-3-3

Kritsyuk – Petrov, Granqvist, Sigurdsson, Jedrzejczyk – Akhmedov, Mamaev, Torbinski – Pereyra, Smolov, Ari

Manager: Oleg Kononov


Formation: 4-1-4-1

Hoxha – Atanda, Arapi, Krasniqi, Ibrahimi – Ramadani – Torassa, Vila, Trashi, Fili – Ekuban

Manager: Adolfo Sormani

By Manuel Veth –