PSV Eindhoven vs Ludogorets

September 18, 2013
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Having crashed out of the Champions League qualifying stages at the hands of AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven aim to start their Europa League campaign with a bang. Meanwhile, Ludogorets were soundly beaten by Basel at the same stage, and they face a very difficult task at Philips Stadium in Eindhoven.

Plenty of talent in the ranks

Having seen a number of senior players leave the club in the summer, the club chiefs made a risky move by mostly signing young and talented footballers to replace them, with only Park and Schaars the more experienced arrivals. Nevertheless, youngsters like Rekik, Bruma, Willems, Depay, Locadia and Bakkali have flourished under the guidance of Philip Cocu, with nobody now worried by the lack of experience in the ranks. PSV eased off to a 5-0 aggregate win over Belgian side Zulte Waregem to earn a clash with mighty AC Milan in the Champions League play-off stages, and while they were eventually unable to eliminate their more illustrious opponents, the Dutch side proved they can even mix it up with the best of them in Europe. The team did see their form dip just before the international break, but they then returned stronger, earning a 2-2 draw at Twente and this will feel as an excellent opportunity to return to winning ways. With league clash against arch rivals Ajax scheduled for Sunday, the hosts will want to win this game and further improve their spirits and the atmosphere in the squad before the high-profile clash against Amsterdammers.

Karim Rekik has picked up an ankle injury, while Luciano Narsingh and Mathias Jorgensen continue to miss out.

Lack of European experience

Ludogorets Razgrad have been making giant strides over the last few years, having won back to back Bulgarian league titles, while also showing some promise in Europe. The Eagles did reach the Champions League play-offs this term, having eliminated Slovan Bratislava and Partizan Belgrade, but the 6-2 aggregate defeat to FC Basel proved they don’t have what it takes to play at this level. The team will now attempt to prove their worth in Europa League group stages, and while maybe they can get something from games against Dinamo Zagreb and Chernomorets, they clearly lack the quality as well as European experience needed to match a side like PSV. Given that Ludogorets are in good spirits following an impressive 2-0 victory over title rivals Levski Sofia and that they always play attack-minded football, I wouldn’t be surprised if the visitors manage to score at Philips Stadium, but I just cannot see them getting anything from this game.

Important attacker Michel Platini continues to miss out, but there are no other selection problems for coach Stoycho Stoev.


Two solid displays against AC Milan proved PSV Eindhoven are still a force to be reckoned with and they are certainly expected to build on those performances and open their Europa League campaign with a win. Ludogorets have plenty of quality among their ranks, but the lack of European experience is likely to prove a major issue in this match.

Top pick: PSV/PSV   2.05 (21/20) @ Coral

Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals   1.67 (2/3) @ BetVictor

Alternative pick 2: Home win + both teams to score   3.00 (2/1) @ William Hill

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