Ludogorets’ Factfile: Meet the team that is set to welcome Cristiano Ronaldo’s Madrid and Mario Balotelli’s Liverpool in the Champions League

With the Champions League fast approaching and Europe's elite preparing to lock horns again for another tournament of thrills and spills, there are of course some teams who enter the fray through the side entrance: unknown, timid and a tad inconspicuous. George Rinaldi will be giving The Offside Rule (We Get It!) readers a complete rundown each week of these sides to make sure you are up to scratch with your Bulgarian lingo, your Slovakian half-time snack and your dark horse player to get you those bonus fantasy league points!

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)

Founded: 1945

Country: Bulgaria

Stadium: Ludogorets Arena – 8,000 capacity

Match to watch: (A) Real Madrid (December 9th 2014)

Manager: Georgi Dermendzhiev

The Lowdown

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.

The Ludogorets Arena will be graced by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard when they pay the Bulgarian side a visit in the Champions league

The Ludogorets Arena will be graced by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard when they pay the Bulgarian side a visit in the Champions League

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.

Show Stopper: Cosmin Moti's penalty shoot-out was reminiscent of a classic footballing fairytale, and caught the attention of football fans worldwide

Show Stopper: Cosmin Moti’s penalty shoot-out was reminiscent of a classic footballing fairytale, and caught the attention of football fans worldwide

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

Top Billing: Ludogrets can expect a full house when this man and his team come to town

Top Billing: Ludogrets can expect a full house when this man and his team come to town

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.


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3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Ludogorets’ Factfile: Meet the team that is set to welcome Cristiano Ronaldo’s Madrid and Mario Balotelli’s Liverpool in the Champions League – The Offside Rule (We Get It!) |
  2. Ludogorets’ Factfile – The Offside Rule (We Get It!) |
  3. Sort it out, Felix! Fulham’s woes under Magath look set to continue – The Offside Rule(We Get It!) |

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