Saturday Jan 23, 2021  
  20/02/2014: Preview: Lazio - Ludogorets
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Lazio face Ludogorets Razgrad in the first leg of the last 16 in the Europa League. 

The Bulgarian champions are known in Bulgaria after they were bought by Kiril Domuschiev four years ago and won a promotion from second to first league and after that won two league titles. In their first season with the big boys they managed to win every single cup in the country - the league title, the national cup and the super cup. 

Their performance in the Europa League group stage this season is also eye-catching and the fact that they won their group where teams like PSV, Dinamo Zagreb and Chornomorets were says a lot about what they can do. They managed to make five wins and 1 draw in the group stage which is quite impressive. 

Bulgaria's league has a winter brake from the middle of December until the end of February and Ludogorets have played only one official game in 2014 - a postponed match against Neftochimic won comfortably by 3-0. 

This might be a plus for Lazio because the Bulgarians haven't played a lot of official games but it might be a minus also because they will be full of energy and ready to fight for a win in Rome. 

Ludogorets are in a streak of eight wins and one draw out of their last ten games in the Bulgarian "A" league. They only lost to Levski Sofia but most of the games were played in 2013 so their form might have changed. 

Lazio didn't have a loss in 2014 until last week when they were beaten 3-1 at Catania. Edy Reja's boys will surely want to forget that match and try to win their next ones and get back on the right track. 

Lazio's previous meetings with Bulgarian opponents went well and the team has three wins and only 1 loss. This is the clubs most successful campaign since 2002/03. The team past it's group stage unbeaten with three wins and three draws. 

Lazio haven't lost at the Olimpico for ten games now (seven wins and three draws) while their Bulgarian opponents won all of their three away games in the group stage. 

The winner of this tie will face Dinamo Kiev or Valencia. 

Here are the predicted starting line-ups for the game: 
Lazio (3-4-3): Berisha; Ciani, Cana, Radu; Cavanda, Onazi, Biglia, Lulic; Candreva, Perea, Keita

Ludogorets (4-2-3-1): Stoyanov; Minev, Moti, Barthe, Caicara; Dyakov, Zlatinski; Alexandrov, Marcelinho, Misidjan; Bezjak

Players to watch: 
Lazio: Keita Balde - young, talented and ready to give a 100% on the pitch to show that he is ready to be Lazio's next big star. 

Ludogorets: Marcelinho - a playmaker, goalscorer and a world class player for the Bulgarian league. If he gets free space Lazio's defense will have problems. 
Author: Martin Meranzov
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