Ludogorets vs Crvena zvezda by DamirJ
Ludogorets didn't have much of resistance in the second qualifying round for Champions League, when the team outplayed Montenegrin champions from Mladost with a comfortable qualifying for the next phase and aggregate 5:0 result. First game in Bulgaria ended as a 2:0 victory for them, while the team didn't want to risk a lot in the returning leg and at first took a bit more cautious approach at first.
However, as the game progressed, they actually made an excellent appearance as the team started playing more relaxed once they scored the first goal and ended up winning it with an easy 3:0 score. It seems that they have progressed further without much of energy spent, while now the level of opponent rises with Crvena zvezda, but the Bulgarians still remain favorite for the first leg. Their national domestic league starts this weekend with a game against Beroe, so it's expected that the team is close to their full form.
Home side coach has Dutch striker Misidjan (17/2) as doubtful for this match, while newly signed midfielder Campanharo didn't get his papers from Brazil on time and isn't registered for this one.
Crvena zvezda, on the other side, didn't have that easy task in the second qualifying round when the team took over Valletta from Malta and won with a 4:2 aggregate result. Even though they had some problems in both matches, it seemed like that the team has more potential than what they shown and managed to respond at difficult times in both games, since they were in both leg down 1:0 from early phase of the match.
With two 2:1 victories, nobody looked really satisfied, but what counts for now is that they progressed, but knowing that much more difficult opponent is now ahead of them. The team will need to show rapid improvement, especially in the defense, in case they want to claim the qualification for the play-off round. Last weekend their domestic league has started and the side took only a point in a 2:2 draw at home against newly promoted Napredak, once again staying back in the scoreline first, this time even being 2:0 down at the start of second halftime.
Seemingly an easy task was the Red Star on the 2nd qualifying round of the Champions League where he met towards Valletta Malta. Can he qualify, but it was quite hard way. Away in the first match was left behind in the score to turn against the state in the last minute and get the victory 2-1. In the rematch he struggled again to again prevail 2-1 and thus lock the qualification.
Midfielder Babunski (1/0) will not be playing here, while striker Orlandic remains long term absentee. Both without much of impact on their game anyway.
Ludogorets remains slight favorite for this one, however I'll skip betting on the final outcome here. Goals is what I expected, from both sides actually since the Serbian side didn't show anything close to reliable in defense, while they both remain with capable offensive lines.