PSG VS Ludogorets Razgrad Prediction
Few days after an embarrassing defeat in Montpellier, PSG must defend its first position in Group A of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League, when “Les Parisiens” will be challenged by Ludogorets Razgrad on Tuesday night. Bulgarian champion arrives in French capital Paris after a goalless draw against FC Basel last round, which gives advantage of Ludogorets over their Swiss competitors for the third position and it comes as a result of a scoring draw in Basel (1-1). And if Ludogorets and Basel compete for the third position, respectively for a progress into the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, PSG must win in order to be certain for the top position, which should secure them an easier opponent in the 1/8 finals, at least on paper. Of course, if Arsenal makes a wrong step after its visit at the “St. Jakob-Park” in Basel, even a point could be enough for PSG here. So basically we have a contention regarding first position in the group and another one for the third place, providing more European football in second half of the 2016-17 season to its holder.
PSG vs Ludogorets Razgrad – Team News and Match Preview
Ludogorets Razgrad is the side expected to look more often at the score from other group fixture, where eventual point for Basel could be crucial for any further hopes of “The Eagles”, unless they don’t also gain something from the “Parc des Princes”. Journey to France comes in a moment when composure seems to prevail in the squad and last week’s 2-1 victory over Levski Sofia must increase it even more.
Georgi Dermendzhiev’s men were victorious in a home match against “Blues” from Sofia on Wednesday night, who are their main title contenders in the Bulgarian First Professional Football League. Although Levski took the lead at the “Ludogorets Arena” in Razgrad, “Eagles” did the full comeback in second-half of the clash and the full set of points for Ludogorets has been brought by Marcelinho’s winner. Attacking midfielder has scored that goal after he came on Virgil Misidjan’s position in 63rd minute, being sidelined for a while. Marcelinho recovered from injury and wasn’t available for selection in the draw against Basel and a 3-1 league success over Botev Plovdiv, which were one of the very few matches he missed since joining Ludogorets, proving he’s the real engine of the team. His absence was absolutely obvious in match vs Basel, where Ludogorets were extremely clueless up front and they can be grateful Swiss side was also far from effective and creative in their visit to Sofia.
Aforementioned victory against Levski makes the difference between both leading sides in top Bulgarian football tier to six points, but Ludogorets is with one game less, making their lead even more expressive. “Eagles from Razgrad” can boast with 14 consecutive wins on the domestic scene, but unfortunately, they have failed winning a game in the Champions League group stage fixtures so far.
On other hand we have reigning French champion PSG, but their domestic hegemony looks under serious threat owing to some remarkable efforts by current Ligue 1 leaders – Nice and AS Monaco. After 16 rounds PSG remains third and they have serious resistance, something they didn’t met last season. Another huge blow over Unai Emery’s season came on Saturday night, when “Les Parisiens” have suffered their heaviest loss since five years, as the last time they lost with three goals margin was in November 2011 – 3-0 in Marseille. This weekend PSG lost 3-0 at the “Stade de la Mosson” in Montpellier, which leaves them on four points behind Nice and on a point from Monaco. It’s too early to make some general conclusions whether PSG’s domestic reign is on stake, but there are definitely some claims and they don’t come only from one side.
The good news is that PSG owns the head-to-head advantage against Arsenal on away goal, so they will clinch first place with a win. That painful defeat from Montpellier can be an additional motivation for team from Paris and Unai Emery will have to demand more from his players.
Head-to-head history and stats: PSG vs Ludogorets Razgrad
That 1-3 home defeat (note: Ludogorets plays its Champions League fixtures in Sofia) from Paris Saint-Germain was the first time Ludogorets had faced opponents from France on the European stage and it could have gone in a completely different way to be honest. First of all Brazilian left-back Natanael Pimienta has opened the score for “The Eagles” after only 15 minutes, as he scored from a free-kick in Alphonse Areola’s net. His goal gave the lead to Ludogorets but Georgi Dermendzhiev’s men could not kept it under serious pressure of their reputable French opposition. Blaise Matuidi equalized in closing minutes of the first-half, while Edinson Cavani has scored a second one 10 minutes after opening second-half whistle.
Breaking point of that game came few minutes after Cavani’s goal, when Ludogorets have been awarded with a penalty, but Cosmin Moti’s attempt was unsuccessful. Thus PSG felt even more confident in their superiority and Uruguayan striker netted another goal, respectively third for PSG, some seconds after Moti’s miss.
Unlike its opposition, PSG already have some experience against Bulgarian teams and first ever match in UEFA competition came in Bulgaria 34 years ago. That happened with a two-legged match-up against Lokomotiv Sofia in the 1982/83 European Cup Winners’ Cup first round – Parisians lost 1-0 in Sofia and won 5-1 at home.
PSG vs Ludogorets Razgrad – Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
PSG are sure about their Round of 16 position since matchday 4 and their 2-1 success in Basel, but they’re keen to finish ahead of Arsenal. Safest way to retain first position is by winning against Ludogorets and Spanish manager Unai Emery may be tempted to make some rotations in its starting XI, compared to the one he used against Montpellier on Saturday.
Marco Verratti, Adrien Rabiot and Javier Pastore were all injured and out from PSG’s group for that horrible weekend journey, but Marquinhos, Serge Aurier, Layvin Kurzawa, Blaise Matuidi and Angel Di Maria were involved in that game. They have all missed the midweek 2-0 success over Angers, but appeared in Montpellier. However, some of them may be dropped out of the squad against Ludogorets and starting positions for Maxwell, Thomas Meunier, Thiago Motta, Jesé Rodríguez and Hatem Ben Arfa are very likely. They can replace respectively Kurzawa, Aurier, Matuidi, Christopher Nkunku and Lucas Moura, who were all included in PSG’s starting list against Montpellier.
Ludogorets on their turn will hope Arsenal will put enough effort and won’t underestimate its game in Basel, otherwise Swiss champions may be capable to squeeze a point out of “The Gunners”.
Georgi Dermendzhiev has no injury concerns and Bulgarian coach can be delighted Marcelinho is back in the group. He’ll take its starting position as the most important player in Ludogorets’ formation, who must link the midfield line with the attack. This apparently requires some rotations compared to team that began against Basel, since Marcelinho will be ready to play from the outset. Dutch winger Virgil Misidjan “Vura” and Romanian striker Claudiu Keșerü are the two who must compete for a starting spot here, as if first one of them starts, then Jonathan Cafu should be on top of the preferred by Dermendzhiev 4-2-3-1 formation. Otherwise Keșerü should be the leading striker and Cafu will operate on the right wing, if Vura sits on the bench.
Other question is related with the defense where Cicinho and Yordan Minev are the options, but most likely Bulgarian coach will rely on Minev’s experience.
Final conclusion, Betting Odds and Prediction
PSG have been determined as the absolute favourites of the bookies and this seems understandable. Nevertheless, Ludogorets have proven attacking mentality is in their blood and when they have Marcelinho in the squad, they can always be creative and pacey. Marcelinho’s presence is the key factor and this allows more freedom for all other attackers – Jonathan Cafu, Wanderson and whoever starts between Keseru/Misidjan.
Situation may require more attacking by “The Eagles”, especially if PSG scores and Arsenal doesn’t show serious intention for winning the game on Swiss turf. Under these circumstances we find great value on currently suggested odds for “Both teams to score”, as we expect them to drop in hours before the game. Indeed, Ludogorets can be in a do or die situation, while PSG must show its real face after a woeful weekend performance.
Our betting prediction goes on the attacking abilities of both squads and decent value we have – Both teams to score – Yes.
Venue: “Parc des Princes”, Paris.
Referee: Tasos Sidiropoulos (Greece).
Possible starting lineups of PSG and Ludogorets Razgrad
Paris Saint-Germain: Alphonse Aréola – Maxwell, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Thomas Meunier – Thiago Motta, Grzegorz Krychowiak – Jesé Rodríguez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Ángel Di María – Edinson Cavani. (4-2-3-1)
Ludogorets Razgrad: Vladislav Stoyanov – Natanael, Cosmin Moti, Jose Luis Palomino, Yordan Minev – Anicet, Svetoslav Dyakov – Wanderson, Marcelinho, Virgil Misidjan – Jonathan Cafu. (4-2-3-1)