The star of the FCB opponent is on the sidelines. Nenad Bjelica was born in Osijek and grew up in football. A man who fully identifies with the club and the region – and that’s one of the reasons why he returned to his home country at the beginning of September. The successes of his career? Bjelica celebrated it outside of the 110,000-inhabitant city where the Basel guest performance is taking place today as part of the second European qualifying round.
Bjelica was on the note at FCB
Bjelica was champion with Dinamo Zagreb in 2018 and 2019, most recently he also coached the two Nati players Mario Gavranovic (30) and François Moubandje (30 / new Alanyaspor) in the Croatian capital. Lech Posen, Spezia Calcio, Austria Wien, Wolfsberg, Lustenau and FC Kärnten also coached the man who likes to play offensive 4-3-3. Before signing with Osijek, Bjelica was very popular with Fenerbahce. And also at FCB, the 49-year-old is said to have been a topic in the meantime, according to BLICK information.
Osijek grabbed him because he serves as the perfect figurehead, as a figure of identification. And because he can draw on a wealth of experience. As a central midfielder, Bjelica scored 18 La Liga goals in 91 games for Betis Sevilla and Albacete in his active career. He defended the 0-0 win at the 2004 European Championship in Portugal against the Nati offensive around Stéphane Chapuisat, Alex Frei and Hakan Yakin. And: He has 70 games for Kaiserslautern.
16 of them at the side of his current opponent, Ciriaco Sforza. He remembers him as a “correct, open person and interesting player”: “I’m looking forward to seeing him again!”
The Swiss and the Croat, they harmonized on the pitch. In the “Gradski vrt” stadium from 8.45 p.m. there is no room for friendship.
Nikolic is given preference over Lindner
A single duel decides on progress. Sforza is threatened with the immediate end of the European Cup after the 1: 5 wake-up call in the test against the German third division Saarbrücken. Is buddy Bjelica of all people putting the new FCB coach under massive pressure before the championship has even started?
Sforza picked Djordje Nikolic as number one ahead of the Osijek game. Heinz Lindner was brought in as number two, but could “help the team a lot” with his experience. FCB will be missing Taulant Xhaka, Yannick Marchand, Raoul Petretta, Elis Isufi and Luca Zuffi today.
Sforza speaks of a “final game” against a “physically and technically strong opponent”. However, it will not have escaped him that the ambitious Croatians have started the new season anything but good. At the weekend there was the first win in Rijeka after two bankruptcies and one draw.
In addition: Bjelica’s experience with Swiss opponents is bad. In 2018 he failed with Dinamo in the Champions League playoffs at YB, which was just taken over by Gerry Seoane. Now Sforza stands in his way, whose competitive game baptism of fire could hardly be hotter …