Crusaders vs Ludogorets
Crusaders managed to stay competitive during the first halftime in the first leg away in Razgrad, Bulgaria. However, once they conceded that own goal in 40th minute, the things completely went south for them in the second halftime. That way Ludogorets had the double lead at the halftime as Marcelinho opened them up in the middle of the first half.
Bulgarian team completely over run them in the second part and are already in the next round thanks to seven goals different. There's nothing else for the Crusaders but to try to leave at least a bit better impression in the second leg.
The team won previous title thanks to a last round's victory over Ballymena, ending with two points more than second placed Coleraine - however that's far away from European standards. During the pre-season friendlies, they lost narrowly to Motherwell 0:1 and Connahs Q. from Wales earlier in June.
Their complete team consists of domestic players with addition of two unknown players from Republic of Ireland and Spain. They will miss team captain Colin Coates and fellow defender Sean Ward for this one.
Ludogorets were attacking from the first minute in last week, but the side only managed to show their full potential in the second halftime. As the time progressed they looked more and more superior against poor visitors.
Keseru scored third goal for them in 53rd minute, while Marcelinho scored his second in 66th minute. Polish forward Jakub Swierczok entered the game in next minutes and managed to net three goals till the end.
No doubt that they are already in the second round in their heads too, as they await the better of Vidi vs Dudelange game (first leg ended as a 1:1 draw in Luxembourg). Bulgarian league is set to start this weekend with Ludogorets hosting Etar. Some rotation is possible, but not because of the importance of their weekend game, but since the progress further is already there and many players need playing time early in the season.
Their destiny is quite uncertain in the Europa League second round as well, as the side meets probably Slovenian champions from Olimpija Ljubljana that lost the first round game at home against Qarabag 1:0 and no doubt that the Northern Ireland will be underdogs in that game as well.
Ludogorets showed plenty of quality in the first leg, but even that might not be all from them. No doubt that they'll rotate the squad a bit - however whoever plays, will want to make impression and prove that he earns starting lineup. Hosts aren't complete once again and will again be missing two important defenders. I can't see this leg becoming much easier for the home team with Ludogorets players being now completely relaxed for sure.
Crusaders vs Ludogorets prediction
Ludogorets -2 Asian handicap @ 2.00 with Pinnacle