CSKA Sofia vs Riga
CSKA Sofia had really good season previous time, as the side managed to take the second position. After regular part of the season they had pretty amazing 19-6-1 record for their standards and were only three points behind Ludogorets.
In the Championship Group that consisted of first six teams that played each other twice, CSKA Sofia ended up with seven points less than champions from Ludogorets confiring their rock solid season. They were excluded in the semi-finals of Bulgarian Cup to Levski with a 4:2 aggregate result.
They started the preparation period very early, earlier in June and already have played five matches. Victories were against Etar, V-Varen Nagasaki (Japan), Ufa (Russia), while they had two most recent draws. It was against Shakhtar Donetsk a goalless one and a 3:3 draw against Brondby.
The club has important history in European football but in previous decades, while this will be their first appearance after 2014/15 season when they got excluded by Moldovan Zimbru Chisinau on away goal rule. Last time they played Europa League group stage was back in 2010/11 season. The team changed a coach at the end of the previous season appointing Nestor El Maestro, Serb who previously won Slovakian championship with Spartak Trnava last season.
They brought goalkeeper Dante Stipica from Hajduk Split, defender Boris Sekulic from Slovan Bratislava, two players from Holland - defender Steven Pereira from MVV and midfielder Janio Bikel from NEC. They do have more foreign players from Portugal, Brazil and of African origin who had their career spells in higher profile leagues.
Riga FC is doing well now in the league and this should be one of their weapons in this two legged game. The fact that they are in full swing at the momemnt and that their competitive season last for few months now already.
Moreover, they have six consecutive victories at the moment now, all without a single goal conceded. Neither their attackers are much more concrete as four victories came with narrow 1:0 result, while last two matches ended as a 2:0 victories. Their latest league game was away to Valmiera twelve days ago where they got the three pointer thanks to two goals from Baienko, while worth saying is that their hosts had to play with a man less in last thirty minutes.
The side now stands at second position closely followed by few other teams, while they have eight points less than leaders from RFS. They also had a Cup game back on last Saturday's afternoon winning 2:0 away to lower league side Super Nova (goals from Primao Thiago and Etock in the first halftime).
Their central defender and team captain Vladimir Baienko had some spells in Uzbekistani league and Ukraine. They also have couple of players originally from Africa, couple of from ex-Yugoslavian countries and most known are probably winger Dodo who has played for Dinamo Zagreb six years ago.
- First appearance for Riga FC at European level.
Quality difference between these two clubs and standard of their domestic leagues are enormous. CSKA Sofia is improving lately and it seems that they are on the right path. No doubt that they will even try to win the league this season and entering somehow into the group stage of Europa League surely is their target.
Riga FC, on the other side, is something completely different and even though they do have winning streak at the moment, that's completely some other story. Bulgarians to take it seriously from the beginning and maybe even rotate the squad for the second leg.
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CSKA Sofia vs Riga prediction
CSKA Sofia Half time/ Full time @ 2.20 with Bet365