Ludogorets vs AC Milan Prediction, Preview, Lineups & Betting Tips
Ludogorets gained some serious continental experience in UEFA competitions for the past few seasons and now “The Eagles” are set for another major challenge when AC Milan arrives in Razgrad for first leg of their Europa League Round of 32 tie. The Rossoneri are favourites not only because of their name and glorious past, but for the fact they’ve kept match practice in the winter months, while Ludogorets will play its first competitive game since two months. Nevertheless, they are hosts in the first round and that’s a good opportunity for Dimitar Dimitrov’s men who will be keen to reach a suitable result before the second leg in Milan next week.
Find out the possible starting lineups of Ludogorets and AC Milan, as well as our betting prediction with the highest betting odds available on the selected market.
PFC Ludogorets Razgrad
Dimitar Dimitrov’s men have turned their “Ludogorets Arena” into a real fortress. They suffered only one loss (1-2 vs Istanbul Basaksehir) in last six home games in the UEFA competitions, playing major European games on their own stadium for the very first time. In the past few years Ludogorets had to play all group stage and knockout games in Sofia, but not this time, so “Eagles” will be influenced by the home crowd and special atmosphere in the small city of Razgrad, located in North-Eastern part of Bulgaria.
Ludogorets is up against one of the favourites to lift the trophy in May so they virtually have nothing to lose here. They can only win from such a game and moreover, they keep some great memories from facing a Serie A side in the Europa League 1/16 finals, eliminating Lazio four years ago.
Dimitar Dimitrov must find an adequate replacement of the suspended left-back Natanael. Youngster Aleksandar Vasilev and midfielder Lucas Sasha are the two options of Dimitrov, but most likely Sasha, who played on that zone in some of the winter friendlies, will start as a left defender.
Romanian striker Claudiu Keseru is suspended as well, but Dimitar Dimitrov rathers playing with “false nine” in some of the previous rounds, although Ludogorets have improved their attacking strength, signing with Polish striker Jakub Swierczok this winter. He arrived from domestic Zaglębie Lubin where he has scored 16 goals in 21 league games and he quickly hinted for a greater potential, scoring 4 goals in 4 friendlies of Ludogorets. Nevertheless, Dimitrov may be tempted to play the “false nine” card once again, with Marcelinho on top of the formation, supported by Wanderson and Virgil Misidjan through both wings. This means captain Svetoslav Dyakov will start in midfield, playing more defensive role alongside other two central midfielders Jacek Goralski and Anicet.
The UEFA Europa League (former UEFA Cup) is the only major UEFA competition that AC Milan have not won. It remains to be seen how important the tournament ranks is to Gattuso but considering Milan’s Serie A positioning (7th, 9 points behind 4th placed Roma), the Europa League seems to be their only opportunity for Champions League football next season. This can only happen if “The Rossoneri” lift the trophy, like Manchester United did in 2017 and thus qualified to the Champions League, though they’ve finished 5th in the Premier League.
Gennaro Gattuso’s men will travel to Bulgaria where Milan has scored in each of the previous visits. Furthermore, Milan have won all five of their previous European knockout ties against teams from Bulgaria, most recently 3-0 on aggregate against CSKA Sofia in the second round of the 2001/02 UEFA Cup.
Their overall record in 10 matches against Bulgarian clubs is 7 wins, 2 draws and one defeat only, winning the last five games.
Midfielder Manuel Locatelli will miss the first leg because of suspension but all key players are in contention. Gattuso may refresh all zones of his favourite 4-3-3 formation and Andre Silva may enjoy some first-team football here, despite a brace scored by Patrick Cutrone in the 4-0 win over SPAL last weekend. Young Italian forward will remain on the bench while Silva shows better form in the Europa League, where the Portuguese has already scored 6 goals in 6 group games during current campaign.
UEFA Europa League: Ludogorets vs AC Milan Prediction and Betting Tips
Milan were undefeated in their first nine Europa League games this season, winning seven of them (including the first six), all under former coach Vincenzo Montella. That record ended with a 2-0 loss to Rijeka (away) on matchday six – new boss Gennaro Gattuso’s first European game at the AC Milan helm. However, the upcoming match is from completely different importance and the defeat to Rijeka came in a meaningless match when The Rossoneri were already certain for the top position in their group.
Ludogorets have lost only one of their last nine European fixtures (4 wins, 4 draws) – although they are winless in three. The Razgrad outfit have not won any of their last five matches in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, winning 0-1 against Lazio in Rome back in February 2014. This was their first ever European breakthrough and Ludogorets have built up themselves an image of a very battleworthy team in the following years, challenging sides like Real Madrid, PSG, Arsenal, Basel and Liverpool in the Champions League.
Ludogorets achieved most of its best European results with a core we can still find in current squad and they should not be underestimated at any point. Our betting prediction recommends the goal scoring markets here – bet on “Both teams to score – Yes”. We believe both sides have the quality to score in Razgrad and we won’t be surprised if intrigue remains the same before second leg in Milan.
Possible Lineups of Ludogorets and AC Milan
Venue: “Ludogorets Arena”, Razgrad.
Referee: Milorad Mazic from Serbia.
Ludogorets Razgrad: Renan – Cicinho, Igor Plastun, Cosmin Moti, Lucas Sasha – Jacek Goralski, Anicet, Svetoslav Dyakov – Virgil Misidjan, Marcelinho, Wanderson. (4-3-3)
Missing players: Natanael and Claudiu Keseru are both suspended.
AC Milan: Gianluigi Donnarumma – Ignazio Abate, Leonardo Bonucci, Cristian Zapata, Davide Calabria – Lucas Biglia, Riccardo Montolivo, Franck Kessie – Suso, Andre Silva, Fabio Borini. (4-3-3)
Missing players: Manuel Locatelli is suspended, Nikola Kalinic is injured.