A very interesting situation in group A as we await the kick-off of the Ludogorets vs Basel match. Two top teams (Arsenal and PSG) have both collected 10 points, while the two bottom ranked teams (Ludogorets and Basel) have collected 1 point each.
Despite the fact the their chances of reaching the next stage of the UEFA Champions league have been cut off early in this campaign, the two teams will battle for the 3rd place and a spot in the Europa league.
Ludogorets lone point in the first 4 games came in the first leg when they played 1:1 against Basel, who they will face on Wednesday night once again. The Bulgarian side has been very impressive in front of their home crowd, recording an 8 game winning streak, which indicates that Basel will have a tough task of winning some points at the Ludogorets Arena. The Bulgarians came very close of collecting all three points at home against Arsenal, jumping ahead to an early 2:0 lead, but the Gunners somehow managed to fight their way back into the game and take all three points.
In the Domestic competition, Ludogorets is topping the Parva liga with 37 points out of the first 14 games, while being ahead with three points from the closest rivals Levski Sofia. Claudiu Keseru will have to step up and play a huge game for his team as he is considered as the key player on the Bulgarian team. Namely, in all competitions Keseru has scored 13 goals, out of which one came in the 2:3 loss at home. Ludogorets Coach Dermendzhiev Georgi should be able to count on all players, as there are no reported injuries going into this match.
On the other side, Basel hopes for a miracle as they are set to face-off with the Bulgarian team on Wednesday night. Just as their opponents, Ludogorets, Basel has collected only 1 point so far, which means that if one of the two teams wins all three points; they would most likely be the ones who will continue their competition in the Europa league. Basel came close of winning points at home against PSG in the last round, but suffered a tough loss with a late goal by Meunier.
On the other side, the Swiss team is displaying pure dominance in the domestic competition as they top their league with 41 points, while the second best team, Young Boys, is 15 points behind. Seydou Doumbia will be one of the key players for Basel once again, as he netted a total of nine goals this season in the domestic competition, while he is still experiencing a drought in the Champions league.
Coach Urs Fischer will not be able to count on Akanji, Kevin Bua, Boetius, Kutesa and Sporar, who are all sidelined and will most likely miss this match.
We have already stated that Ludogorets is a tough turf to beat at home, while the visitors have a better team on paper. However, the visitors have a bit more experience playing the European cups over the last couple of year. This is why I would go with a draw 1:1 or 0:0 in this match, while the final outcome could go either way.
Ludogorets expected lineup: Borjan – Natanael, Moti, Palomino, Mlinev – Dyakov, Anicet – Wanderson, Marcelinho, Cafu – Keseru
Coach: Dermendzhiev Georgi
Basel expected lineup: Vaclik – Traore, Balanta, Suchy, Gaber – Xhaka, Steffen, Delgado, Die, Bjarnason – Doumbia
Coach: Fischer Urs
Ludogorets vs Basel
UEFA Champions League – Group A
Date: Wednesday, 23rd November 2016.
Kick-off at 20:45 UK.
Venue: Ludogorets Arena, Razgrad.