Bulgarian underdogs relishing a crack at champions Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo in a hot vein of scoring form for Spanish giants

Real Madrid’s coach Carlo Ancelotti talks to Cristiano Ronaldo during a training session at Vassil Levski stadium in Sofia. Photo: Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

Real Madrid’s coach Carlo Ancelotti talks to Cristiano Ronaldo during a training session at Vassil Levski stadium in Sofia. Photo: Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

 

Bulgarian underdogs Ludogorets will look to match the stunning giant-killing exploits of compatriots CSKA Sofia when they make their Champions League home debut against holders Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

CSKA, the most successful club in the Balkan country with 31 titles, boast a remarkable record of upsetting the odds, including European Cup wins over then-champions Ajax Amsterdam in 1973, Nottingham Forest in 1980 and Liverpool two years later.

Few people outside Bulgaria could even begin to locate the town of Razgrad, the home of Ludogorets, but their footballers could put it on the map if they upset the millionaires of Madrid at a time when Cristiano Ronaldo is scoring for fun.

Ludogorets produced a classy and confident performance at Liverpool, losing 2-1 after conceding a stoppage-time penalty, but coach Georgi Dermendzhiev is expected to make one more change to his starting line-up.

Former Celta Vigo winger Dani Abalo, who scored the Bulgarian’s goal against Liverpool after coming on as substitute, will play instead of the ineffective Virgil Misidjan.

“It won’t be easy but we’ll do our best because it’s a historical match for Ludogorets,” Abalo said. “I hope that someday I’ll return to La Liga. ”

Real have put a stuttering start in La Liga firmly behind them in recent weeks, helped by the prolific form of Ronaldo, who hit a record 17 goals in last season’s triumphant Champions League campaign. The European champions have scored 20 goals in their last four games.

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