Anyone For A Game Of Ludo?
A closer look at Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad:
Name: Ludogorets Razgrad (Pronounced – Loo-doe-gore-rets)
Nickname: Орлите от Разграo (The Eagles from Razgrad)
Stadium: Ludogorets Arena – 8,000 capacity
Match to watch: (A) Real Madrid (December 9th 2014)
Manager: Georgi Dermendzhiev
Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets Razgrad come into the Champions League for the first time in their history, which dates back to 1945. They are also the first Bulgarian club since Levski Sofia in 2006 to qualify for the competition.
They play in the A-Group league in Bulgaria, the highest possible league, which they won for the third successive year in 2013-14 under Stoycho Stoev. The Eagles managed to go seventeen games unbeaten during their title winning season.
How did they get here?
The Eagles managed to defeat Romanian side Steaua Bucharest on penalties in Sofia in August thanks to some fairy tale goalkeeping from defender Cosmin Moti. Having lost the first leg 1-0, a spectacular volley from Wanderson had set up extra-time. The match seemed destined for penalties until Ludogorets keeper Vladislav Stoyanov took down an advancing Steaua forward and was subsequently sent off. Defender Moti, a Romanian, donned the gloves as the hosts had no substitutions remaining. What happened next was remarkable; the defender managed to not only send the game to penalties, but also net the opening penalty and make TWO saves. That’s right – Steaua’s penalties weren’t missed, they were saved by Moti.
Who will they meet?
The most notable trip the Bulgarians will make will be to the Santiago Bernabeu to face the reigning champions Real Madrid in December. They may already have been knocked out by then but the occasion will still be one to remember for any Razgrad fan or player involved.
It isn’t just Madrid that await the Eagles; they will also face Liverpool, winners in 2005, and Swiss champions FC Basel. The likes of Mario Balotelli, Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo and co. will all be appearing at the Ludogorets arena in the coming months, which should make for some fantastic viewing for those lucky Bulgarians who can score a ticket.
Tuesday 16/09/14 Liverpool v Ludogorets
Wednesday 01/10/14 Ludogorets v Real Madrid
Wednesday 22/10/14 Ludogorets v FC Basel
Tuesday 04/11/14 FC Basel v Ludogorets
Wednesday 26/11/14 Ludogorets v Liverpool
Tuesday 08/12/14 Real Madrid v Ludogorets
Bulgarian to yell at the TV
Икер Касияс не може да запълни обувките на нашия Козмин Моти!
(Roughly translates to ‘Iker Casillas can’t fill the boots of our Cosmin Moti’)
Half time snack – Banitsa
This traditional Bulgarian pastry is first prepared by stacking up layers of filo pastry dough, mixture of whisked eggs, and pieces of Bulgarian cheese and then baked until it gets a golden crust. Who needs a pie and a pint?
Player for your UCL Fantasy Team
As much as you can try, you can’t select Cosmin Moti in goal but he does fit into a defence if you’re looking to add a cheap back-up option. Realistically, Roman Bezjak is your best bet having netted 13 times from 21 starts during the 2013-14 season.
Read more from George Rinaldi here!