(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
As both FCB and Ludogorets lost their previous UCL fixture in the last minutes of the game, it is clear that their next meeting will most likely determine who will secure the third place in their group. Whoever wins the fixture will play UEFA Europa League football in the new year. As both teams have equal number of points, this fixture has the feeling of a cup final; if the game ends in a 1:1 draw as in the 1st leg, the goal difference would be a deciding factor. In that case, FCB would have the upper hand. If the game would end in a 0:0 draw and equal points, FCB coach Fischer believes that Ludogorets would have the better chances. “Ludogorets seem to be favorites at the moment. We need a positive result; that means a draw but not a 0:0. We however always aim to win.”
The 1st leg fixture:
Both teams secured a point when they faced each other in the opening fixture of their UCL group stage campaign. FCB was the better team, creating several chances, but was lagging behind for nearly the entire second half. Jonathan Cafu put the visitors in the lead just before the end of the first half, but Renato Steffen scored a spectacular goal, 10 minutes before the end of regular time. Basel secured a point; well deserved. On home turf the Bulgarians have been very strong: In both UCL home games they have been first to score. Arsenal was lucky to have scored in the final moments of the game, securing victory for the Gunners.
In the domestic league, Ludogorets Razgrad have proven to be on fire: Georgi Dermendjiev´s team who play in Bulgaria´s A grupa have clocked up 10 consecutive victories. Ludogorest are top of of the table, three points ahead of Levski Sofia. “Ludogorets have been strong recently, but so have we. It’s a battle between two strong sides”; stated Michael Lang during the pre-match press conference in Sofia. Lang describes his opponents qualities: “ The ability to switch from offensive play to defensive play is one of Ludogorets´strengths. The Bulgarian side have quick players who are strong on the counter attack as well as defensively compact. They wait for their chance, then pounce when the time is right. We experienced this in the first leg.”
Urs Fischer will not be able to count on two fighting spirits during this important fixture. Both Geoffroy Serey Die and Renato Steffen are banned for this match based on conceded yellow cards. This explains why these players didn’t play against FC Vaduz last Saturday. Based on Mohamed Elyounoussis´s performance on the weekend, Fischer stated: He played well against FC Vaduz and its possible that he will play Tomorrow (Wednesday).” Luca Zuffi or Alexander Fransson will most likely replace Serey Die, but Fischer will most likely pick Zuffi, based on his performance on Saturday.