Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Ludogorets vs Red Star Belgrade Champions League Match Preview And Prediction - July 27, 2016


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Ludogorets have become regulars in Europe after their rise to prominence over the past decade. They have qualified for the Champions League in each of their last four seasons, with this being their 5th consecutive appearance in Europe’s elite competition.

It hasn’t always gone to plan for them though. They have only made the group stages once during this period, back in the 2014/15 season, and they followed that first success up with a 2nd qualifying round exit last season. They have made the Europa League group stages as well, making it all the way to the Round of 16 in the 2013/14 season.

This season has gone better than last term at least, with their 5-0 aggregate victory over Mladost Podgorica in the 2nd Qualifying Round sending them one step further. However, there’s a long way to go before they reach the groups again.

Their victories against Mladost made it five wins, one draw, and one defeat in their seven matches since last season ended, when they finished a huge 14 points ahead of their nearest rivals in the Bulgarian A PFG. Their new domestic season begins in between the two legs of this tie as well, so they will want to keep their confidence high with a first leg victory.

Red Star Belgrade strolled to the Serbian Super Liga title last season as well, ending up 14 points better off than Partizan in 2nd. This allowed them a return to the Champions League after a disappointing nine year hiatus.

They have made regular Europa League appearances since then, but they have only made the group stages of that competition once as well, back in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup.

Their return to Europe’s elite competition went acceptably though as they beat Valletta 4-2 on aggregate. Interestingly, they went behind early on in both legs of this tie only to come back and win both legs 2-1.

Red Star Belgrade followed this with a 2-2 draw in the opening match of their domestic season, a result which made it seven wins, one draw, and one defeat in their last nine outings.

However, a trip to Ludogorets will provide an entirely different test to Valletta. They are seasoned at this stage of the Champions League and are understandably favourites for this tie. My prediction is for them to get the win, and odds of 3/4 for this outcome look good value to me. I’m also backing a 2-1 correct score prediction at 8/1.

Ludogorets won the only previous meeting with Red Star Belgrade 3-1, a friendly in November 2015.

Ludogorets have won 92% of their last 12 home games.

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