PFC Ludogorets Preview: You Ain’t Got No History (But That’s Not Your Fault)

The Reds get ready to make their return

At this level, there are no easy games. We saw that on Saturday, didn’t we? Despite being dominant for large swathes of the match, the loss to Aston Villa was a reality check before tomorrow’s return to Fantasy Land. We might be playing a side that’s only been around since 2001, but that’s no reason to be overly optimistic.

It’s been five years since Liverpool played a Champions League match and the buzz around the club since we secured a return to Europe’s most important club competition as been nothing short of immense. Tomorrow, the long wait for another fantastic European night at Anfield comes to an end when the Reds host Bulgarian side PFC Ludogorets in their opening match of Group B — a meeting that we’re not about to take lightly.

“We’ll respect them like we would if we were playing Real Madrid,” Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said of the South Eastern European minnows in his pre-match press conference. “They play an open, attacking style and they’ll come here with confidence.” After their heroics in the previous round, Anfield will do well to faze them.

There are no easy matches and that’s the truth. If I was a betting man, I would of put my house on Steaua Bucharest knocking them out in the qualifying round. Instead, defender Cosmin Moti saved two penalties and scored his own after ‘keeper Vladislav Stoyanov was dismissed in the final minute of play. Brazilian born midfielder Wanderson scored the only goal of the match in the dying moments to set up one of the most miraculous fairy-tale endings in the last couple of years. The rest, as they say, is history.

Not that Ludogorets have much of that.

As mentioned previously, the club was only founded in 2001 and this is the farthest they’ve progressed in any European competition in their short existence. I’m not about to pretend I know all about them or regurgitate facts from their Wikipedia page; if you want to read it, please feel free. That being said, I find it highly unlikely that the draw could have been much more exciting for their fans — not only do they get to visit Anfield in the first round, but they also get to make the pilgrimage to the Santiago Bernabéu when they face defending champions Real Madrid at the beginning of October. For such a small club, they have a lot of big fixtures coming up.

That’s what it’s all about though, isn’t it? Playing in this competition may be a massive financial boon for the club for not only potential prize money, but also ticket sales, the Champions League is really about the supporters and them getting to see the team they support week in and week out face off against Europe’s best.

“It’s not about myself or anything to do with me, it’s about the supporters and the players” continued Rodgers without a hint of irony. “We’ve earned the right to be here. We’ve worked very hard in the last couple of years and now we have to keep improving, we have to keep sustaining our performance level and we have to improve on our performance level.”

Maybe his mind is already shooting forward to ensuring qualification for next years competition or how they’ll line up against West Ham United next weekend, but the rest of are staying firmly rooted in the moment. I know I’m not the only one that’s going to have a massive grin plastered on my face before kick-off when that famous Champions League music get’s drowned out by the roar of the Kop.

That’s a moment five years in the making.

Steven

Steven McMillan

Can’t find up from down or tell black from white, but doesn't care cause it’s all Red to him. When he's not pissing and moaning about all things Liverpool, he’s chatting nonsense with his multiple personalities — or his “entourage” as he likes to call them.

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