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UEFA Europa League Betting Preview: Ludogorets Razgrad vs. FC Astana
August 17, 2023
Ludogorets Razgrad takes on FC Astana in the Europa League third qualifying round second leg at the Huvepharma Arena on Thursday night, August 17
FC Astana claimed a 2-1 first-leg win on the artificial pitch in Astana last week and the Kazakh champions need to avoid a defeat in Razgrad.
The winner of this tie will face Eredivisie giants Ajax in the Europa League play-offs.
Ludogorets Razgrad Betting Preview (-228 at BetOnline)
The Eagles clinched the Bulgarian Championship for the 12
time in a row earlier this year. However, they have just suffered another Champions League setback and are now aiming to reach the Europa League group stage for the seventh season running.
Ivaylo Petev's side earned a dominant 3-0 home victory over domestic rivals CSKA-Sofia on Sunday night, though they were down to 10 men in the final part of the game. Thus, Ludogorets Razgrad have won a third consecutive domestic league game (scoring a total of 13 goals in them) after a shock 3-1 opening day loss at newly-promoted Krumovgrad last month.
Ivaylo Petev opted for a three-man backline in the first leg but the Ludogorets boss could revert to his typical system on home soil.
With three goals and two assists in his last four matches, Kiril Despodov is in superb form of late and is reportedly wanted by some major Russian clubs, so the Bulgarian forward is on the verge of leaving Razgrad. Anyway, Despodov will surely play tonight in what could possibly be his farewell match for the 12-time Bulgarian champions.
Summer signing Noah Sonko-Sundberg, who scored against Astana last week, was sent off against CSKA-Sofia and will miss the next two domestic league games against Cherno More Varna and Beroe as a result, but he's available for selection in the Europa League.
However, fellow summer signing Son will miss another European game for Ludogorets as the Spanish right-back was shown a straight red card in the 2-1 Champions League defeat at Olimpija Ljubljana earlier this month.
Goalkeeper Sergio Padt and attacking midfielder Dominik Yankov are both doubts for Ludogorets and if the former is not fully fit, Simon Sluga should continue in goal.
Ivan Yordanov impressed against CSKA-Sofia at the weekend and the young Bulgarian midfielder could keep his starting spot alongside Jakub Piotrowski and Claude Goncalves.
Up front, Rwan Seco scored in each of his first two domestic league matches since he joined Ludogorets this summer, but he failed to do so in Kazakhstan. However, the 22-year-old Brazilian forward is expected to lead the line on Thursday as Matías Tissera has been out of favor in recent weeks.
Elsewhere, captain Anton Nedyalkov continues his recovery after a long-term injury layoff, while summer signing Kwadwo Duah picked up an injury to join Denny Gropper on the sidelines.
FC Astana Betting Preview (+650 at BetOnline)
Having won the Kazakh Championship for the first time since 2019, FC Astana started their European campaign with a Champions League clash against Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia. After a 1-1 draw at the Astana Arena in the first leg, Grigoriy Babayan's side completed a 2-1 comeback win in Tbilisi to reach the second qualifying round.
The champions of Kazakhstan eventually suffered a disappointing second-round exit, succumbing to a heavy 6-0 aggregate defeat to Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia over two legs. They are now bidding to qualify for the Europa League group stage for the first time since 2019-20.
The Yellow-and-Blues earned a much-needed 2-1 first-leg win against Ludogorets Razgrad, which ended their four game winless run across all competitions (losing the last three in a row). It wasn't easy, though, as the Bulgarian side took the lead but Grigoriy Babayan’s men fought hard to complete another comeback.
Grigoriy Babayan, who has already been caretaker several times over the past decade, was appointed as head coach of Astana following the departure of Sr?an Blagojevi? last September.
Centre-backs Zarko Tomasevic and Aleksandr Marochkin both scored in the first leg as Grigoriy Babayan successfully exploited set-pieces to score. There is no reason to believe that the FC Astana head coach won't do the same in Razgrad and we can expect the same starting lineup.
Dembo Darboe, who scored the winner in Tbilisi, should once again lead the line for FC Astana but veteran Marin Tomasov, who will celebrate his 36
birthday this month, may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Possible Starting Lineups of Ludogorets Razgrad and FC Astana
Ludogorets Razgrad: Sergio Padt - Marcel Heister, Noah Sonko Sundberg, Olivier Verdon, Aslak Fonn Witry - Claude Gonçalves - Bernard Tekpetey, Ivan Yordanov, Jakub Piotrowski, Kiril Despodov - Rwan Seco. (4-1-4-1)
FC Astana: Josip Condric - Abzal Beysebekov, Zarko Tomasevic, Aleksandr Marochkin - Kamo Hovhannisyan, Maks Ebong, Stjepan Loncar, Yan Vorogovskiy - Abat Aymbetov, Dembo Darboe, Fabien Ourega. (3-4-3)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
Unlike their dreadful away record in European games, Ludogorets have won five of their last seven home matches (5-1-1) and The Eagles fancy their chances of turning things around against the Kazakh champions.
Moreover, the Razgrad outfit have the home advantage this time and Ivaylo Petev’s men should feel much better than they did on the artificial pitch in Astana last week. If the Bulgarian champions manage to remain composed, they surely have got the attacking threat to perform much better than in the first match and we expect goals here.
Having won the Kazakh title for six consecutive years between 2014 and 2019, FC Astana hasn't been really convincing in their European away games either. The aforementioned success at Dinamo Tbilisi in the Champions League qualifying earlier this season was their first away win since a 4-0 victory at Valletta (Malta) in 2019 as the Kazakh side has lost eight of their last 10 away games in Europe.
Spooky Express Free Play: Over 2½ Goals -120 at BetOnline for 6/10 Units
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