CSKA Sofia vs Botev Plovdiv Prediction, Preview, Lineups & Betting Tips
While they’re in a fierce competition with the six-time-in-a-row champion Ludogorets, CSKA Sofia will host to Botev Plovdiv in round one of the Bulgarian First League playoffs. After 26 games in the regular First League season CSKA have a realistic chance to challenge Ludogorets, being three points behind the reigning champions – 63 against 66, respectively. The final 10 rounds (the top six clubs are in the so called Championship Round and all teams will face each other twice, both home and away) will be decisive for the final standings where the teams of Ludogorets Razgrad and CSKA Sofia are those competing for the champions trophy.
CSKA Sofia are the title contenders and pressure is over them as they must play for a mandatory success, while Botev chase UEFA Europa League qualification, which they can achieve via either the league or the Bulgarian Cup, where Botev Plovdiv will meet Slavia Sofia in the semi-finals. CSKA Sofia is also one of the four teams to reach the Bulgarian Cup semi-finals, where they’ll play vs the “eternal rival” Levski, but the First League trophy surely comes with the highest priority to Stamen Belchev’s men.
CSKA’s coach has some issues ahead of this clash as he can’t rely on two key players – the central defender Nikolay Bodurov (played in all rounds so far) and the top goalscorer Fernando Karanga (22 goals in 24 games), who are both suspended. Thus captain Bozhidar Chorbadzhiyski must form the centre-back duo alongside Alexandre Barthe, while the winter signing Jean Carlos Blanco is expected to replace Karanga on top of CSKA Sofia’s formation.
In the meantime Botev Plovdiv will travel to Sofia with all first-team players as head coach Nikolay Kirov doesn’t have any selection headache. He can field the best possible starting XI and Botev’s attackers surely find themselves in good form, coming after three consecutive wins before the international break, scoring 10 goals in that period.
Find out the possible starting lineups of CSKA Sofia and Botev Plovdiv, as well as our betting prediction with the highest betting odds available on the chosen market.
CSKA Sofia vs Botev Plovdiv – Prediction and Betting Tips
We fancy the currently suggested odds on “Both teams to score – Yes“. Both teams have already scored in the two previous meetings between those two sides earlier in the season when CSKA won 2-6 in Plovdiv, while Botev stole a point in Sofia – 1-1 in November.
Despite Karanga’s suspension (due to his behaviour after the victory against Levski in the last match), CSKA has enough attacking potential and one of the players who are under the spotlight is the right winger Kiril Despodov. New signing Jean Carlos Blanco is also eager to prove his quality in Sofia, especially if we consider that Karanga will most likely be sold in the summer and Stamen Belchev, or whoever is the coach of CSKA then, will surely need a central forward.
Botev Plovdiv are also capable to score and all eyes are looking towards playmaker Todor Nedelev and the winter signing João Paulo (4 goals in 4 games so far), who is on loan from Ludogorets Razgrad, but that is his second stay at “The Canaries” from Plovdiv, so he knows the atmosphere quite well.
Possible Starting Lineups of CSKA Sofia and Botev Plovdiv
Venue: “Balgarska Armia Stadium”, Sofia.
Referee: Stefan Apostolov.
CSKA Sofia: Vytautas Cerniauskas – Stanislav Manolev, Bozhidar Chorbadzhiyski, Alexandre Barthe, Geferson – Kristiyan Malinov, Ruben Pinto – Kiril Despodov, Tiago Rodrigues, Henrique – Jean Carlos Blanco. (4-2-3-1)
Botev Plovdiv: Ivan Cvorovic – Lazar Marin, Dimitar Pirgov, Plamen Dimov, Yordan Minev – Serkan Yusein, Lachezar Baltanov – Gustavo Affonso, Todor Nedelev, João Paulo – Diogo Campos. (4-2-3-1)