FC Copenhagen vs Ludogorets Prediction, Preview and Betting Tips
Reigning champions and also leaders in football leagues of Denmark and Bulgaria are set for a decider on Thursday night as only one of them will move on in the UEFA Europa League. Most likely FC Copenhagen and Ludogorets Razgrad will both defend their domestic trophies and their European commitment looks as the only way for more dynamic in remaining weeks of current 2016-17 season.
H2H – FC Copenhagen vs Ludogorets Razgrad: A week ago Ludogorets played its first ever match against a Danish opposition and it didn’t went quite well. “Eagles” from Razgrad were apparently not focused enough in opening seconds at the “National Stadium Vasil Levski” in Sofia, where team plays its European games. Everything started with an own goal of midfielder Anicet which came after a corner kick for Copenhagen, less than 120 seconds after kick-off. Awful beginning which pretty much contributed for bigger confidence in visitors from Denmark.
Ludogorets failed to create anything memorable except two long shots and FCK were leading on half-time. Second half started with aggression and bigger desire shown by Copenhagen, and first of all winger Youssef Toutouh hitted the right bar, but minutes later he successfully made the score 0-2.
Thus Ludogorets found themselves in a very unfortunate situation and their display was really clueless, neither speed or passing was on usual level. For some reason Georgi Dermendzhiev’s men were mostly crossing the ball which was extremely ineffective against Danish defenders. However, Romanian striker Claudiu Keseru, who came on as a substitution, scored for Ludogorets in the 81st minute and this was glimmer of hope for Bulgarian champions. If not in closing minutes of the first leg, then surely for second Round of 32 leg in Danish capital Copenhagen.
UEFA Europa League: FC Copenhagen vs Ludogorets 23.02.2017
“The Eagles” from Razgrad will fly far north after a situation in the weekend. Ludogorets increased distance ahead runner-ups Levski to 10 points but that happened after a huge delay of game against Slavia in Sofia. Initially their encounter has been scheduled for Sunday afternoon but due to heavy weather conditions and snow it was postponed for the next day. Game on Sunday lasted for around 12 minutes until referee’s decision to stop it.
Around 24 hours later, on Monday afternoon, Slavia and Ludogorets resumed their match from round 20 in the Bulgarian First League. Ludogorets Razgrad were winners in their second domestic fixture for 2017 after two second-half goals by Claudiu Keseru and Juninho Quixada.
In the meantime FC Copenhagen renewed its Danish Superliga march and their first new year challenge there was called Brondby. Indeed, FCK had a major game on Sunday afternoon in a derby between both Copenhagen clubs which is known as “The New Firm”.
Ståle Solbakken used his main squad since that’s not only a rivalry between both clubs from Copenhagen, but a clash between both sides on top of the table. After a boring scoreless draw at the “Telia Parken”, FC Copenhagen maintained its 11 point lead over Brondby and obviously their priority right now looks towards perspectives of more Europa League football.
Match Preview: Team News, Squads and Missing Players
Ludogorets can’t be particularly pleased from fact they had to play on Monday instead of Sunday and Georgi Dermendzhiev can be thankful to other circumstances. For example like his decision to rest some key players or general lack of pressure in the team, since Ludogorets are leaders with a wonderful advantage. Furthermore, main domestic opposition in Levski Sofia’s face surprisingly lost to Pirin and this awarded Ludogorets with a marvelous opportunity to extend its leadership.
Players like Marcelinho and Jonathan Cafu, who were the main underperformers for Ludogorets against FCK, played for only around 30 minutes against Slavia. They were used as substitutions when score still was 0-0. Other players who had a restful afternoon are Yordan Minev, Jose Palomino, Anicet and Virgil Misidjan.
Meanwhile winger Jody Lukoki, who was expected to start in first leg against FCK, missed another match after sustaining an injury in a 0-4 win vs Montana. Lukoki remains questionable for travelling to Copenhagen and his name remains only injury concern in the Bulgarian champion. If he is not ready to start in Denmark, Ludogorets may name same XI used in Sofia. In fact biggest dilemma of Georgi Dermendzhiev should be position on top of his favourite 4-2-3-1 formation, where Jonathan Cafu was far from the required level and we won’t be surprised if he replaces Misidjan on the right flank. Such a rotation may open space for Claudiu Keseru who grabbed his opportunity and scored in either of last two games.
FC Copenhagen takes on Ludogorets with a comfortable lead after round one of their duel. Nevertheless, Ståle Solbakken lost two of his central midfielders who are suspended for the second leg on Danish turf.
All bad news for Norwegian coach of Copenhagen came in additional time of game in Sofia, where first of all experienced William Kvist was booked and he misses out due to yellow card accumulation. Minutes later, literally in closing seconds, Slovak midfielder Jan Gregus was booked for the second time and he saw the red card. For some reason referee Ivan Bebek forgot to sent him off, although his first yellow card was shown not even 10 minutes earlier. Anyway, he quickly corrected that mistake and absence of Jan Gregus opens a huge gap in midfield.
Central midfielder Thomas Delaney joined Werder Bremen in the winter and this leaves Ståle Solbakken without all first-team central midfielders he used in first part of the 2016-17 season. Partnership in midfield between Delaney and Kvist was crucial for all solid efforts of Copenhagen in the Champions League and fact that Danish champions have kept a clean sheet in all their home matches there – for six consecutive games. A streak that consists of three wins in the qualifiers (vs Crusaders, Astra and APOEL Nicosia) and of three group stage games. FCK won 4-0 vs Club Brugge and drew twice vs Porto and Leicester City, but failed to stand on one of the top two positions.
Unquestionably, an impressive defensive record but now Ståle Solbakken must build a completely new midfield for that game. Winter addition Uros Matic and young Ivorian midfielder Aboubakar Keita are the only typical central midfielders available for second leg vs Ludogorets. And if Matic made a decent official debut in Sofia, now he should play with a new partner and we highly doubt that Copenhagen planned such a move in all winter friendlies. So suspensions of Gregus and Kvist may require a repositioning of another player and there are two names who already have some experience on that position. Swedish defender Erik Johansson, who missed derby vs Brondby, has few games as a defensive midfielder in Malmö FF, whilst Youssef Toutouh has also played few games on that position through the years. And he did it as a player of FC Copenhagen which makes Toutouh as the most reliable choice for a CM partner of Uros Matic, at least in our opinion.
If Solbakken undertakes such a move this should open a position on the left wing where Kasper Kusk and Benjamin Verbic are ready to start. Verbic returned from an injury and played for around 10 minutes against Brondby so it might be too early for him to start against Ludogorets. Otherwise we don’t expect any other changes in the Danish team and their 4-4-2 formation.
FC Copenhagen vs Ludogorets Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
FC Copenhagen have been determined for clear favourites by the bookies and that’s due to their superb home form. Contrary to that, with all missing players in midfield, we don’t expect exactly the same strong performance by “The Lions” and we won’t be surprised if FCK relies on deep defending. This seems extremely reasonable since it was obvious what difficulties Ludogorets had against such a formation in the first match. Moreover, FC Copenhagen will qualify to the Europa League 1/8 finals if game ends with a draw or even if they lose 0-1.
Expectations over Ludogorets were higher and their performance in the first leg was far from the usual level. Georgi Dermendzhiev surely knows that but he decided to keep composure and stated he is pleased by the players in all post game interviews. Can this be the breaking point here? Lack of criticism can be either a positive or a negative, but we definitely expect something else from Ludogorets in Denmark.
We highly doubt that Ludogorets will be so much affected by fact that game is in Denmark, since their “home games” are not in Razgrad though. Playing away from home wasn’t an issue when Ludogorets visited Belgrade, Plzen, Basel and Paris in team’s Champions League campaign. Their only defeat away from home (in Europe) was the humiliation vs Arsenal but football philosophies of Copenhagen and Arsenal are completely different.
Our betting prediction might as well look too brave and even reckless to some of you, but we rate the UEFA Europa League match-up between FC Copenhagen and Ludogorets Razgrad as a very balanced one. That’s why we believe that similar odds represent great value and we fancy them – Ludogorets Razgrad – Draw No Bet.
It’s basically same as the Asian Handicap 0 but all the bookmakers offer different odds on both markets. The highest odds backing Ludogorets without possibility for a draw are available with the “Draw No Bet” option. In most occasions it’s the Asian Handicap 0 but this time BetVictor surprised us with great odds.
Venue: “Telia Parken”, Copenhagen.
Referee: Miroslav Zelinka from the Czech Republic.
Possible Lineups of FC Copenhagen and Ludogorets Razgrad
FC København: Robin Olsen – Ludwin Augustinsson, Erik Johansson, Mathias “Zanka” Jørgensen, Peter Ankersen – Kasper Kusk, Youssef Toutouh, Uros Matic, Rasmus Falk Jensen – Federico Santander, Andreas Cornelius. (4-4-2)
PFC Ludogorets Razgrad: Vladislav Stoyanov – Natanael, Cosmin Moti, Igor Plastun, Yordan Minev – Anicet, Svetoslav Dyakov – Wanderson, Marcelinho, Jonathan Cafu – Claudiu Keseru. (4-2-3-1)