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Preview: Hoffenheim – Ludogorets

Starting as favourites in this Europa League (EL) Group C game, Hoffenheim have had a disappointing campaign of five games with only one win (W1, D1, L3). The fact that they scored the first goal in four of those matches, makes it even worse.

 

Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:

Hoffenheim are the only team in the group that has no chance of qualifying for the last 32. But even though this match is a dead rubber for the bottom-placed Germans, they still could prove annoying to Ludogorets as the Bulgarian side needs at least a point to get through to the next round. If Ludogorets lose, they will be out of the tournament if Basaksehir manage to beat the already qualified Braga.

The Bundesliga outfit are in better form heading into this game, as they had a good 4-0 victory over Leipzig at the weekend after weeks of struggle. This was their first win in three matches with two losses and one draw in Bundesliga (BL) and EL.

Though Ludogorets also won their last league game against Dunav Ruse, they have had some problems lately, too. The last six games saw them win three and lose three and these losses are to date their only defeats in 24 competitive games in the league and EL this season.

These two sides have met just once in their history and that was on matchday two of this EL campaign – Ludogorets won 2-1 after being 1-0 down. That was the first win by any Bulgarian team against a German team in twelve years and twelve matches!

There’s a fair chance that Ludogorets could get the needed point, as they are unbeaten in five away EL group stage matches. They have, in fact, lost just one of nine away matches in all stages of this tournament and on top of that, they haven’t conceded a goal in their last four matches away from home (W1, D3).

Another huge plus for Ludogorets is that Hoffenheim are likely to rest many of their first-team squad, with coach Julian Nagelsmann saying: “We try to send many young and hungry players on the pitch, that may have their first cap in the professional area.”

 

Missing players

Hoffenheim: K. Demirbay (suspension), A. Szalai (suspension), E. Polanski (doubtful), S. Wagner (doubtful)

Ludogorets: V. Stoyanov (doubtful).