Bulgaria's Ludogorets Awaits Europa League Debut
Bulgarian football champions PFC Ludogorets Razgrad will play their first official match in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, when they visit Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.
The game is scheduled for 8 pm Bulgarian time at the Phillips Stadium in Eindhoven.
After falling out of the qualifying rounds for the Champions League to Swiss champions FC Basel, Ludogorets will attempt to leave a mark in Europe's second most prestigious club tournament. The other two teams in this Group B are Croatian Dinamo Zagreb and Ukranian Chernomorets Odessa. All teams are scheduled to play against each other two times, with the top 2 sides in the final table advancing to the eliminatory phase.
The Bulgarian side go into Thursday's match on a high form, after defeating PFC Levski Sofia 2-0 away on the weekend. They currently sit top of the Bulgarian championship after 8 rounds.
PSV will look to bounce back from 3 consequtive matches without a win in their domestic league. Manager Phillip Cocu will not be able to use captain Georginio Wijnaldum due to injury. PSV's Bulgarian player Stanislav Manolev is not expected to be in the starting lineup.
"On the face of it, Ludogorets is an unknown team to us, but that does not mean they play bad football. We must be concentrated to get the result we want. We cannot afford to play at 70% of our abilities. We need the 3 points", said the Dutch manager in the pre-match press conference.
"The mood in the team is great. Playing in the group stages is a new experience for us and we are looking forward to it. We hope to show the best of our capabilities, and we will see if that will be enough", commented Bulgarian coach Stoycho Stoev, cited by the daily Pressa.
The referee appointed for the match is Slovakian Ivan Kruzliak.