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Bosnian Champions with Chance to Reach Playoffs

 

Come the end of Thursday night, we will know each of the teams who will compete for a place in the 2018/19 Europa League group stages.

With the Champions League third qualifying round matches complete and the draw already made, the winners of the tie between Zrinjski Mostar and Ludogorets Razgrad know their potential opponents.

However, before looking too far ahead, they have the second leg of their tie to play in Bosnia.  The first leg ended 1-0 to the Bulgarian team last week and Ludogorets travel to Bosnia with a slender advantage.

Zrinjski Mostar know they need to win the game to have any chance of progressing and a clean sheet would be very useful.

Trends show Zrinjski Mostar have hit a poor patch of form at the wrong time as far as progress in Europe is concerned.  Prior to the 1-0 loss in the first leg of this tie in Bulgaria, Zrinjski Mostar were defeated by Zeljeznicar in the Bosnian league.  They also lost on the weekend, losing 1-0 at Celik as they bid to retain the title they won last season.

Playing at home is where Zrinjski Mostar are at their best.  They have lost only one of their previous fifteen home games, including two in European competition this season.  However, both matches, the first in Champions League qualifying and the second in Europa Leaguequalifying have ended in 1-1 draws.  That will not be good enough to see them qualify from this tie.

In addition, this match will not be played at their usual home stadium, which is bad news for the team and fans.

Much like their hosts, Ludogorets have seen some indifferent form at the start of this season. The defending Bulgarian champions currently sit fourth in the Bulgarian First League with 7 points from four games played.

However, having failed to win four games in a row, they followed up the 1-0 win over Zrinjski Mostar in the first leg with a 2-0 away to Vitosha Bistritsa on the weekend.

Trends show Ludogorets have struggled to win games in the Europa League and the victory last week was their first in six attempts.  Away form in the Europa League shows Ludogorets have won one of their last seven games but have picked up four draws and that’s all they need to win the tie.

Looking ahead to the teams news and Zrinjski Mostar are unlikely to make many changes from the first leg.  Ante Mise will set up his team to be difficult to beat but must commit more men forward to get the goals they need.

Ludogorets will be looking towards Jakub Swierczok, who scored 4 goals in two games against Crusaders earlier this season.  Marcelinho, Claudiu Keseru and Joao Paulo are all expected to start the match.

Zrinjski Mostar are up against it in this game and Ludogorets have the superior quality in their team. Expect the Bulgarian champions to score an away goal and come away with a win to seal their place in the playoffs.