10 Facts About Ludogorets Razgrad!Stats
Liverpool face PFC Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League tonight. The Bulgarian title-holders are somewhat of an unknown quantity,
…so here are ten facts about them.
1. The club are six years younger than Raheem Sterling, having formed in 2001 as Ludogorie Football Club. However, the year 1945 appears on the club crest, as in 2010 they acquired acquired the license of Ludogorets 1945 Razgrad, which had been dissolved four years previously.
2. The club have Romanian defender Cosmin Moti to thank for their progress to the Champions League group stages. After their keeper was sent-off during the play-off against Steaua Bucharest, Moti made his first ever appearance between the sticks and saved two penalties – and scored one himself – in the subsequent shoot-out. A stand in their new stadium will be named in his honour.
3. The club are from the smallest town in this season’s Champions League. The population of Razgrad is just 32,500 – similar to Dundalk in Ireland or Wickford in Essex.
4. The club only reached the top flight in Bulgaria in 2010, but won the title at their first attempt – at odds of 50/1. They’ve gone on to retain it in the past two seasons, much to the dismay of traditional heavyweights CSKA Sofia and Levski Sofia.
5. The club are owned by one of the richest men in Bulgaria – Kiril Domuschiev – who initially donated £20-30,000 per season to keep the amateur club afloat. However, he’s significantly increased his investment in recent years and ended up buying the club in 2010.
6. The club’s sporting director Metodi Tomanov has previous experience at embarrassing Liverpool in Europe. He was part of the CSKA Sofia side that knocked out The Reds – who were holders – from the European Cup in 1982.
7. The club are only the second from Bulgaria to reach the Champions League group stage. Levski Sofia qualified in 2006/07 but lost all their matches in a tough pool that also featured Barcelona, Chelsea and Werder Bremen.
8. The club did relatively well in their maiden season in the Europa League last term. They managed to make the last 16, having beaten the likes of PSV Eindhoven, Lazio and Dinamo Zagreb along the way.
9. Michel Platini once played for the club. No, not the UEFA President and former French maestro – Michel Platini Mesquita, a Brazilian striker. Ludogorets have a few Brazilian imports in their squad, with Marcelinho their most accomplished. The attacking midfielder won Best Foreign Player in the Bulgarian league last year.
10. The club’s home stadium, the Ludogorets Arena, is so small that they must play their home European ties 170 miles from Razgrad in Sofia. They are not particularly loved by rival fans – with many Sofians attending their home games in Europe rooting for whoever their opponents happen to be.