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#Men'sFirstTeam #EuropaLeague #PreMatch #Opinion #Ludogorets

Ludogorets analysis with European football expert Andy Brassell

Thu 05 November 2020, 11:30|Tottenham Hotspur

It’s Matchday Three of the UEFA Europa League and our first meeting with Ludogorets, nine-times champions of Bulgaria. What can we expect in Razgrad? Once again, we’ve turned to European football expert Andy Brassell, a regular on the pages and podcasts of the likes of The Guardian, Football Ramble and talkSPORT.

Andy on Ludogorets

“Ludogorets' success is the upshot of a lot of investment in the club. They’ve been in the Champions League a couple of times, and the last time they were in the Champions League (2016/17), they played Arsenal. That was only four years ago. They were in what looked the group from hell on that occasion, they played PSG, Arsenal and Basel, who are quite seasoned at that level, but they got points out of that group. They drew in the Parc des Princes (2-2) and made it pretty difficult for Arsenal in Bulgaria (lost 3-2).

“Since then, they’ve got through to the knockout rounds of the Europa League twice, and the squad is pretty constant as well. You look at some of the players who are there, and they’ve been there for a pretty long time now. The main players I’m thinking of, the Brazilian-born players, you’ve got Cicinho, Wanderson, a playmaker, they been there so long that they are now Bulgarian nationals. You have to think of Lodogorets a little like Shakhtar Donetsk, they’ve not got quite the same amount of Brazilian players, and they aren’t quite as good, but in terms of becoming quite a cosmopolitan squad and having the financial means to keep those players there for more than a transient spell... if you look at Jordan Ikoko, the right-back, he played a lot in the top flight for Guingamp in France, and if you go back five or six years, no way is a quality Ligue 1 performer going over to Bulgaria to play. That’s just not happening. He came through the PSG Academy, so he’s got that pedigree. To know a player of that pedigree would want to go to Bulgaria says, a, that they pay nicely and, b, that there is a culture of success at the club.

“There is a lot of experience there. If you look at Claudiu Keseru, he’s scored goals in France and is a very reliable striker. If you go back five or six years to when they first qualified for the Champions League, Cosmin Moti was a huge part of that, a defender who ended going in goal for the penalty shoot-out in the play-offs against Steaua Bucharest. He scored the first penalty and then ended up saving two. That’s what got them up and going in the right direction. Now, they are totally used to this stage (they’ve played in Champions League/Europa League groups stages every season since 2013/14) and I think what’s interesting, when you watch them in Europe and they play more storied opposition like Spurs, they don’t sit on the game, they are a team of winners and their attitude is, ‘why change that in Europe?’ They are generally quite adventurous and that will give Spurs opportunities on the counter-attack, something I think Spurs do very well.”