Our prediction for this Champions League match:
Wednesday’s Champions League qualifier at Huvepharma Arena pits together Ludogorets and Shakhtyor Soligorsk, the two teams who meet for the first time ever in European competitions. The Bulgarian champions aim to book their place in the CL group stages for the first time since 2016, and the bookies see them as hot favourites to win the first leg. Jose Brandao returned to the club in the summer, but he is unlikely to start against Shakhtyor.
As always, a man to keep an eye in the home team will be Romania international Claudiu Keseru, who scored 18 goals in the national championship last term. The Belarusian champions, on the other hand, are eyeing their first ever win in the Champions League qualifiers. However, the lack of experienced in European competitions should prove to be the team’s biggest problem in the first leg. Slovakia midfielder Julius Szoke is likely to miss the game through injury.
Highlighted Player (Vladislav Stoyanov):
Stoyanov is a Bulgarian goalkeeper playing for PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. The 29-year-old shot stopper is also a member of the Bulgarian national football team with his Cristiano Ronaldo penalty save in an unexpected 1-0 away friendly win over Portugal remaining the highlight of his international career so far.
Stoyanov had previously saved another penalty from Real Madrid star in his team’s 2-1 loss to the reigning European champions in 2014. Stoyanov is an experienced goalkeeping veteran who has played for Naftex Burgas, Pomorie, Chernomorets and Sheriff Tiraspol before arriving in Razgrad in 2013.
Stoyanov had a fairly successful three-year spell in Moldova, having won two Moldovan National Division titles and one Moldovan Cup.The 2014 Bulgarian Footballer of the Year, Vladislav Stoyanov has made over 90 league appearances for Ludogorets and will be one of the key members in his club’s UEFA Champions League campaign, also one of the rare Bulgarian players in this Brazilian-studded team.
Highlighted Team (Ludogorets):
Bulgarian football club PFC Ludogorets Razgrad, commonly referred to as Eagles, compete at the Ludogorets Arena with the capacity of 8,000. PFC Ludogorets Razgrad are owned by Kiril Domuschiev, who made it his personal goal to propel the club to domestic and international success and to hold up the Bulgarian flag high with nation’s biggest clubs Levski and CSKA going through turbulent times.
Having seen their stock rise astronomically since 2010, PFK Ludogorets Razgrad have become the first Bulgarian club to be features in the UEFA Champions League group stage twice. Previously, their maiden participation happened in 2014-15 season when the Bulgarian club made headlines due to notable results against FC Basel and Liverpool.
Their success on domestic scene has been equally impressive as PFC Ludogorets Razgrad remain the second team in the world to win a treble after being promoted from the second to the first league. Main force of the Bulgarian club are the Brazilian players, currently eight of them in the squad many of whom hold the Bulgarian citizenship.