The opportunity to be able to create the atmosphere that inevitably lifts your team into overcoming their nemesis and entering an unknown level of sporting glory; it’s the kind of things that gives dedicated fans goosebumps. Unfortunately, many supporters of the Albanian national team are going to be denied this once in a generation opportunity. This is because despite the political underpinnings of all those rivalries, none carry the weight of history of Albania against Serbia, not even Wrexham v Chester. Despite its immense footballing importance, tonight’s match has transcended football. It is no longer a game of football – it is a political event.
Whilst most of Western Europe gears up for kick off in the coming weeks, Croatia’s First League season is already four matches old, add in five Europa League qualifying matches and what results is a hectic summer for Hajduk; nine matches in the last 31 days. Oh, and goals. Lots and lots of goals.
Saturday was a historic day for Torcida Sandžak, Serbia’s only Islamic ultras group. They’d witnessed their team, Novi Pazar, go a goal down in the opening fifteen minutes, miss a penalty and concede a second in first half stoppage time. All of that came in one of the biggest games of the season, the home fixture with Partizan Belgrade; last season’s champions who had won their opening two matches 4-0 and 6-0. Novi Pazar, by contrast, had lost their opening game at home to newly promoted Javor Ivanjica. And yet somehow they emerged victorious, recording their first ever win over Partizan.