Ludogorets Razgrad VS Basel Prediction
Wednesday night, 23 November 2016, can be crucial for any further hopes regarding the European football dream of Ludogorets Razgrad and Basel, when both sides are eager for winning of their fifth match in this year’s UEFA Champions League group stage. Ludogorets and Basel are competing for the third position in Group A where Arsenal and PSG have already secured their Round of 16 position and they’ll have to determine who’ll be group winner, while third position remains open. It will ensure more European football in second part of the 2016-17 season, since we all know that third place in each Champions League group comes as a consolation by promoting its holder into the UEFA Europa League knockout rounds. This is the main ambition for Ludogorets and Basel here and it couldn’t be else. Indeed, both clubs have won only a point out of their first four games and that happened in mid-September, when Basel and Ludogorets have shared a point with their 1-1 draw at the “St. Jakob-Park” in Basel.
Ludogorets Razgrad vs Basel – Team News and Match Preview
Ludogorets and Basel are enjoying to their absolute hegemony in the relevant domestic leagues, where we got used to find them on top of the standings at the end of any season in last few years. That’s valid mostly for Ludogorets since most of you already know “Eagles” from Razgrad are flying high in the sky since club has been purchased by the businessman Kiril Domuschiev in 2010. Thereafter Ludogorets became member of Bulgarian top football tier and won the trophy in its first season there, being followed by four more triumphs, which forms the impressive achievement of five consecutive championship campaigns.
Basel is not only the second most successful Swiss team with its 19 league trophies (only Grasshopper have more – 27), but they also became a synonymous of Swiss football in most reputable European leagues. Basel lifts the Swiss Super League trophy in seven successive years and it seems they won’t have much difficulties to winning it once again.
“The RotBlau” were celebrating their 123rd anniversary only few days ago (15 November) and it has been marked in a proper way at the weekend, when Basel wrecked last placed Vaduz 6-0. Thus Urs Fischer’s side can boast with its impressive domestic league record containing 13 wins and only 2 draws, goal difference 45:11 and clear advantage of 15 points over runner-ups Young Boys and Sion. Not a bad achievement after only 15 league games, making Basel untouchable and fully focused towards its European ambition.
Ludogorets finds higher competition in this year’s Bulgarian First Professional Football League edition, but that’s pretty much influenced by the not so impressive beginning of their domestic campaign. That happened in a moment when “Eagles” have been engaged with their priority in the Champions League qualifiers, which cost them just few points, but however, Ludogorets is still topping the league and Georgi Dermendzhiev’s men can come into that game with confidence. It’ll be inspired by the 12 consecutive victories on both domestic fronts (League and Cup), but at the same time Ludogorets surely regrets about missed opportunity for winning a point against Arsenal, when Bulgarian champions were leading 2-0 against “The Gunners” after only 15 minutes during previous Champions League round. Nevertheless, Arsenal proved its overall quality and after a wonderful effort by Mesut Özil late in the game, Arsene Wenger’s men have accomplished full comeback to 2-3.
Meanwhile Basel were also victims to a brilliant individual effort in that moment, when PSG’s right-back Thomas Meunier has scored a real screamer in closing seconds of the other group A game facing Basel and PSG. That was decisive for final score in Basel and French champions were traveling back to home with a victory (1-2) from their visit to Switzerland.
H2H Balance and Stats – Ludogorets vs Basel in the years
Ludogorets and Basel don’t keep any secrets when they’re facing each other, not only due to their opening group game earlier in the season, but due to the overall head-to-head history they hold in the past Champions League editions. For a short period in which Ludogorets have made their name and built decent reputation on European football scene, Basel became their most frequent opposition and upcoming match in Sofia will be sixth between both sides for period of three years.
Except the 1-1 draw on 13 September 2016, Ludogorets and Basel have met in the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League playoffs, when Swiss team was really convincing and Basel won in both occasions – 2-4 in Sofia, followed by a 2-0 victory at home turf. That was first ever Champions League playoff reach of the Bulgarian champions and they were without serious experience in UEFA competitions. Logically, squad led by Stoycho Stoev wasn’t a tough match for Murat Yakin’s roster with names like Yann Sommer, Fabian Schár, Mohamed Elneny, Valentin Stocker and Mohamed Salah, who all were part of Basel’s squad back then. Anyway, Ludogorets made its most notable European performance later in the season and flight of “The Eagles” lasted until autumn of 2014, when they lost from Valencia in the UEFA Europa League 1/8 finals.
First and not particularly impressive attempt of Ludogorets and their claims for stopping Basel have been followed by the second round, which took place just an year later. This time champions of Bulgaria and Switzerland were alongside teams like Real Madrid and Liverpool in Group B of the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League. First duel was on 22 October 2014 and it will remain as a special date not only for Ludogorets, but for Bulgarian football at all. Georgi Dermendzhiev’s men won their very first three points in the Champions League group stage and this was also first ever victory for Bulgarian team on the main stage of European football. Glorious moment which came with lot of drama and an early bath for Basel’s Ivorian midfielder Serey Die, who has been sent off after just 18 minutes. That surely tipped the scales in Ludogorets’ favour but their victory came in closing seconds of the game, when defender Yordan Minev scored and gave extra wings to “The Eagles” two weeks before second leg in Basel.
Well, that second leg was one of the worst ever defeats of Ludogorets, but somehow it remains in shadow of that 6-0 loss by Arsenal only a month ago. However, let’s return to that game from early November 2014 when “The RotBlau” were brilliant and their 4-0 success over Bulgarian champion was one of the results, which helped them proceeding to the 1/8 finals, at the expense of Liverpool.
This makes 2-0 for Basel when it comes to final winners, but general record of matches between Ludogorets and Basel shows balance of three wins for Basel, one draw and the reviewed victory of Ludogorets from October 2014.
Ludogorets Razgrad vs Basel – Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
Leaving all historical aspects aside, Ludogorets and Basel must focus onto the next one, which like we said at the beginning, can be decisive for their destiny and remaining months of the 2016-17 football season. Consolation from winning a position into the UEFA Europa League 1/16 finals sounds attractive, especially for teams which are not coming from the top European football leagues. So stakes are really high and we can definitely expect game from completely different matter as we saw in past years, probably something which is much closer to the last match in Switzerland. There we saw a team that shows serious progress and fact Ludogorets have not only found the right route for avoiding another defeat on Swiss turf, but they were not that far away from winning the game. Ludogorets seemed to be very well-organized at the back and their counter-attacks, as expected, were main weapon of the Bulgarian team. Their defense was stable in most of the game but individual mistake by goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov gave a good chance for winger Renato Steffen to equalize in 79th minute.
Exactly Renato Steffen shall serve its yellow card suspension and will miss second leg in Bulgaria, remaining in Switzerland where he’ll find company in face of Serey Die, who was sent-off against PSG. Other players who remain doubtful for Urs Fischer’s selection are of Manuel Akanji (still in development training after injury), Kevin Bua, Jean-Paul Boëtius and Andraz Sporar, who were all missing in weekend’s 6-0 win vs Vaduz.
On other hand Georgi Dermendzhiev can rely on its full potential here and that’s truly great for Bulgarian team. Jonathan Cafu is the name which attracts most attention within selection of Ludogorets, but players like Wanderson, Marcelinho and in-form striker Claudiu Keserü are filling their attacking formation.
Swiss team has already suffered from brilliant technique, pace and individual skills of Brazilian attacker Jonathan Cafu, who opened the score in Basel. We believe Urs Fischer is certainly more prepared and knows what to expect this time, but he shouldn’t underestimate overall attacking display of Ludogorets and their ability for sudden overflow from defending to attack.
Final conclusion and Betting Prediction
Current round is extremely important for both sides and they’ll surely be more cautious here, which doesn’t mean they’ll only defend. Ludogorets is the team that must benefit from its home advantage, although they play in Sofia. Even more, Bulgarian team should be more insistent since under certain circumstances (if game ends with a scoring draw and both teams finish with same number of points) it’s really possible goal difference to be in Basel’s favour, so a win here can guarantee their third position. Actually that’s valid for both sides and if any from them wins here, he’ll remain third no matter what happens next round.
Ludogorets and Basel both have good attacking potential available and to be honest, their attacking lines are much more impressive compared to their defensive capabilities. At least in our opinion. We already mentioned few names who should be followed in the Bulgarian team, but Basel’s attack definitely draws vigor from presence of striker like Seydou Doumbia. Ivorian striker is expected to start on top, while Marc Janko can be an option later in the game, but that’s not all and we must also underline presence of wingers like Birkir Bjarnason and Mohamed Elyounoussi, supported by creativity of Argentine playmaker Matias Delgado, who also scores a lot.
Battle in midfield should be on focus and this will require more defensive contribution by the attacking players, undoubtedly. Fighters like Anicet and Svetoslav Dyakov on one side, against Luca Zuffi and Taulant Xhaka on other side (these are expected central midfield duos) will have their influence in support of defense, but in building up the game as well.
Both sides look ready and in good form before their most important match so far in the season. That’s a good reason to bet on their scoring abilities and our recommendation respectively falls on “Both teams to score – Yes“.
Venue: “Natsionalen Stadion Vasil Levski”, Sofia.
Referee: Martin Atkinson from England.
Possible starting lineups of Ludogorets Razgrad and Basel
Ludogorets Razgrad: Vladislav Stoyanov – Natanael, Cosmin Moti, José Luis Palomino, Yordan Minev – Svetoslav Dyakov, Anicet – Wanderson, Marcelinho, Jonathan Cafu – Claudiu Keșerü. (4-2-3-1)
FC Basel: Tomás Vaclik – Adama Traore, Eder Balanta, Marek Suchy, Michael Lang – Taulant Xhaka, Luca Zuffi – Mohamed Elyounoussi, Matias Delgado, Birkir Bjarnason – Seydou Doumbia. (4-2-3-1)