Ludogorets vs Ferencváros 2nd leg preview

We have seen many matches for Ludogorets from last season, so we know that it wasn’t necessarily the real face he (Stoev) showed last week.”

-Ferencváros manager Sergei Rebrov

Last week was a good week for Hungarian clubs in UEFA club competitions as all four of this season’s participants produced a victory in the first leg.  Over 18,000 spectators witnessed Ferencváros’ 2-1 win over Ludogorets in the Champions League First Qualifying Round first leg at Groupama Aréna last week.  It was an encouraging start to their European campaign after last season’s disappointing performance in the Europa League. 

We’re going to take a closer look at last week’s game and then look ahead to the second leg and what we might expect in terms of changes.

First leg: Ferencváros 2-1 Ludogorets

Lineups

Both teams lined up with a similar 4-2-3-1 with wide attacks being the flavor of the day.  With Isael and Mikhail Signevich unavailable for this one, Sergei Rebrov opted for Michal Svarka in the central attacking midfielder role and Olkesandr Zubkov on the right with Tamas Priskin up top.  Stoycho Stoev started with a couple of surprises – electing to leave veterans Marcelinho and Claudiu Keserü on the bench. 

Early Fradi dominance 

It was a dream start for the hosts as their first significant attack netted the opener on 6 minutes.  Gergo Lovrencsics’ right wing cross zipped across the area and, as Jordan Ikoko attempted a diving header to clear, Tokmac Chol Nguen arrived first and nicked it past Plamen Iliev in the Ludogorets goal.   Despite some wide attacks and long range free kicks that fizzled out, Ludogorets didn’t threaten early.  Ferencváros were hitting the heart of the Ludogoret’s defense as Priskin found himself in the center of the area three minutes later, but could only fire right at Iliev.  Another sustained attack on the quarter hour put pressure on the visitor’s defense but nothing came of it. 

Stoev’s strategy

Ludogorets were looking to use their pace and attacked the right side with the tandem of Ikoko and Jody Lukoki looking to exploit Marcel Heister – all to no avail.  Mavis Tchibota was cutting in from the left and trying to attack the heart of Fradi’s defense, but Lasha Dvali and Miha Blazic were solid.  Dvali made an important stop on Dan Biton on 23 minutes.  The first warning bells went off a few minutes later when Jacek Góralski got in behind and cut the ball across the area but behind the attackers.

Level!

Ludogorets equalized on the half hour, taking advantage of the one big mistake by the hosts. Danylo Ihnatenko’s weak, misguided clearing pass was intercepted by Lukoki.  In the blink of an eye Tchibota, collected a pass from Dan Biton, cut inside and fired a shot that was spilled by Dibusz and tapped home by the waiting Jakub Swierczok with Lovrencsics loitering. 

Wasted chances

Tamas Priskin was disappointing up front for the hosts as he volleyed over from the top of the box in the closing stages of the first half.  The hosts almost conceded another before the break as a deep cross by Anton Nedyalkov caught Dvali in an awkward position and his clearing attempt fell to Tchibota whose angled drive from inside the area was unbalanced and went wide.

Zubkov’s ascendancy

The second half started with Ferencváros controlling the play.  Tokmac’s shot from the top of the penalty arc was right at Iliev but it was a portent of things to come as Fradi’s forwards were getting more and more space.

Zubkov went from being efficiently anonymous in the first half to a real danger in the second.  The first yellow card of the game came when Cosmin Moti tripped the Ukrainian winger, setting up a free kick that Zubkov fired just over from 25 yards.  

Tempers flare

One of my favorite moments of the game was watching Tokmac and Ikoko going at it after the whistle on 56 minutes.  The two were forehead to forehead before being separated by teammates showing the passion that even an early qualifying match can muster.  Tensions began to build from there as the next goal would be crucial in the tie.

Fradi take the lead

Zubkov earned another free kick as Góralski picked up the game’s second booking just past the hour.  The ensuing long-range kick ended up in the back of the net via the combination of Blazic and Dvali but ruled out for offside.

More Ferencváros pressure followed and the go-ahead goal came on 65 minutes.  After some quick passing from right to left, Tokmac took on Ikoko and beat him to the outside before whipping a low ball across the face of goal.  Zubkov ghosted in and slammed home from close range with the Ludogorets defense dozing.  Groupama erupted.

Changes

After the goal, Rebrov brought on Davide Lanzafame (who always looks a little annoyed) for the ineffective Priskin.  Stoev countered with the injection of Marcelinho in place of Biton in midfield.  Lanza didn’t add much as he stayed fairly isolated, but Marcelinho got the Bulgarians ticking as he got to the end of a Lukoki cross in the middle of the area but could only direct it over.  More pressure on Dibusz’s goal found the Fradi ‘keeper clutching a Swierczok header after another fine move by Tchibota.

As the game entered the final stages each side brought on fresh legs in the middle of the park: Siger came on for Kharatin in Rebrov’s midfield, and Stephane Badji replaced Góralski for the visitors.  But things didn’t get hectic until both teams made their final changes.

Frantic finish

Jorginho replaced Lukoki on the right wing, and Tokmac was pulled in favor of Roland Varga with less than ten minutes remaining.  The hosts came close again when Svarka played a nice ball through to Zubkov who ran over the ball with a defender in close attention.

Ludogorets bombarded the hosts in the final minutes and their best chance came when Jorginho worked himself into some space and ripped a shot that Dvali deflected outside Dibusz’s left-hand post. Ludogorets had their chances in time added-on but couldn’t find a way. 

Ferencváros MOTM: Lasha Dvali – I almost gave it to Zubkov, but Dvali’s solid defending neutralized Ludogorets’ main course of attack throughout.

Ludogorets MOTM: Mavis Chibota – took advantage of Lovrencsics being out of position at times and was a constant thorn in Fradi’s side. 

Second leg preview:

Ferencváros:  With forwards Isael and Mikhail Signevich still suspended for the second leg, Rebrov will have to make due with what he has.  Priskin’s below average first leg performance probably quickened Lanzafame’s starting date as the lead attacker, but the dour-faced Italian will have to improve on his 30-minute recital from last week.  Rui Pedro is another option to throw into the mix, but Svarka’s solid performance in the first leg might have earned him another start in the attacking midfield role.

Rebrov isn’t convince that he’s seen the best of his opponent yet. “We have seen many matches for Ludogorets from last season, so we know that it wasn’t necessarily the real face he (Stoev) showed last week.” 

Goalkeeper Dénes Dibusz: “Ludogorets has a lot of good players, we saw it in the first match. Their four attacking footballers, the two extremes, and their two mid-football players are also dangerous, but they can also take on good players as a replacement. However, we are prepared for everyone. If we follow the instructions of the coach, we concentrate all the time and all our players are in the right position, we can close the areas. And we can make it difficult for the Bulgarians.

Ludogorets:  Stoev only started one of his starting eleven from the first leg in Saturday’s 2-0 league win over Tsarsko Selo.  Claudiu Keseru scored twice and played the full 90 minutes on Saturday but it remains to be seen if he’s expected to be in Ludogorets’ attack on Wednesday night. “We need to score goals – the more the better!” exclaimed Stoev about the second leg in a pre-match press conference.  “That’s why we’re going to attack from the first minute without neglecting our defensive duties, of course.

Midfielder Svetoslav Dyakov feels certain that his side will progress. “I’m convinced our team will go through,” said the the Ludogorets captain. “Ferencváros need to know that a really tough game awaits them!

The Bulgarian champions will also have Anicet Abel available to them this week.  After a surprising run in the Africa Cup of Nations, the Madagascar midfielder returns home full of confidence and is likely to be in the lineup. 

Prediction: Ludogorets might have had more crosses and attacking runs but they created very few dangerous situations.  Fradi didn’t create too many dangerous attacks either but their determination carried them and they converted the opportunities that did fall to them.  I think Ferencváros will be prepared but it will still be a fight the entire way.  MOL Vidi held Paulo Autuori’s Ludogorets to a goalless draw in Razgrad last season which is evidence that Hungarian teams can overcome the “fear factor” of a ground that only drew 5,000 fans in the Second Qualifying Round last summer.

Ludogorets need to attack and will have more weapons at their disposal with Keseru and Abel as possible additions.  The away goal will help them, but there is (and should be) concern in the Stoev camp that Fradi’s counterattack can cause problems.  

Ludogorets 1-1 Ferencváros

Thanks to Metodi Shumanov for contributing to this preview