Bulgaria's Ludogorets Travels to Madrid in Search of a Miracle
Bulgarian reigning champion Ludogorets travels to Madrid to face ten-time European champion Real in search of a draw or victory, which will increase its chances of continuing in the Europa League tournament.
The other match in Group B of the UEFA Champions League pits English host Liverpool against Swiss visitor Basel in a direct fight for the second place, which will guarantee its holder continuation into the knockout stage of the tournament.
Before the last matchday the standings in the group are as follows: Real Madrid is the unchallenged leader and winner of the group with 15 points, followed by Basel with 6, while Liverpool and Ludogorets share the last two places with an equal number of points – 4.
Ludogorets has no chances of continuing in the Champions League, but in case it earns a point or three from Real Madrid it can occupy the third place in the final standing, which will guarantee continuation in the Europa League tournament in the spring.
The Bulgarian team will also have to rely on a positive outcome in the other game, hoping that Basel will win against Liverpool.
In the previous game between the two teams that took place in October in Sofia, Ludogorets performed well and was close to achieving the unthinkable against the reigning European champion.
The team from Razgrad shocked its opponents with an early opener from Marcelinho in the 6th minute.
Then it took Cristiano Ronaldo two attempts from the penalty spot to equalise the score in the 24th minute, his first shot having been saved from goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov minutes before.
It was not until the 77th minute that Real Madrid fixed the final 1-2 score with a goal from substitute Karim Benzema.
Following the prestigious 2-2 draw with Liverpool, Ludogorets has also performed well in the Bulgarian A Group recording two unproblematic victories and closing the difference with leaders CSKA to three points.
Following their Saturday 3-0 win over Celta, Real Madrid recorded its 18th consecutive victory in all tournaments.
Thus the team from Madrid equalled the achievement of rivals Barcelona and no one is in doubt that it will be seeking to better it against Ludogorets.
The last time Real Madrid suffered a defeat in La Liga was in September against city rivals Atletico, while the team has not lost a single point in the Champions League.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will rely on most of his top players, including Ronaldo, who following his latest hat-trick during the weekend became La Liga's all-time highest scorer of hat-tricks.
James Rodriguez and Luka Modric will miss the game due to injuries, while Sergio Ramos is suspended.
Ludogorets coach Georgi Dermendjiev does not have serious problems with his squad, with only striker Roman Bezjak going to miss the game due to an injury.
Upon their departure to Madrid, Dermendjiev said that Ludogorets is to face the best in the world, which is proven by the fact that no other team has managed to defeat Real recently.
However he expressed his hope that Ludogorets might be exactly this team, as there were no impossible things in football.
The match that is to take place on December 9 at Santiago Bernabeu stadium starts at 21.45 Bulgarian time and will be broadcasted live on bTV Action.
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