Bulgaria has a lot of Real Madrid fans. Around 600 peñistas are expected to support the team inside Ludogorets' stadium. The Bulgarian side caused Liverpool lots of problems --the reds only managed to win thanks to a penalty scored by Gerrard in added time-- and they should play even better on their home country. That is because Ludogorets will not play their home matches on their own stadium, as they don't meet UEFA's capacity requirements. Those matches will be played in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital city, 324 kilometers away from Razgrad.
It would be cynical not to admit that Real Madrid are the favorites in this game. Los Blancos are on a good and convincing winning streak that should keep going until the next Clásico --October 26th-- considering how bad Bilbao and Levante are playing at this moment. Still, first things first, and Ancelotti's men will need to take care of business this Wednesday in order to keep fighting for the leading spot of the Group with Liverpool.
Both teams face this match with no relevant team news, as only Jesé, Khedira and Coentrao will be forced to sit this match out for Real Madrid while Ludogorets manager Georgi Dermendzhiev won't be able to count on Alexandre Barthe and Georgi Terziev remains questionable.
The Bulgarian club should fight against FC Basel for the third spot in the Group --and an automatic spot in the UEFA Europe League--, so Real Madrid will surely try to avoid dropping points against both clubs.
Isco Alarcón was alongside Carlo Ancelotti in the pre-match press conference, so expect him to start this match in Real's midfield. That way, Ancelotti could give either Kroos, Modric or James some rest ahead of Sunday's home match against Athletic Bilbao. However, don't expect Illarra to start this match as the midfielder missed Monday's training session as is still a bit uncomfortable with his small injury.
Pepe's recovery should also be noted and the Portuguese defender could make his return to Real Madrid's starting lineup, meaning that one man out of Raphäel Varane and Sergio Ramos could also stay on the bench. Varane completed his third consecutive start against Villarreal, and it would be a pity to break his streak considering how well the French defender is playing lately. Pepe will need to work a lot to regain his spot as a starter in Ancelotti's defensive line.
One way or another, this should be a manageable game for Real Madrid, even though the Bulgarian fans are expected to make it a bit tougher.
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- Goalkeepers: Casillas, Navas, Pacheco
- Defenders: Arbeloa, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Pepe, Nacho, Marcelo
- Midfielders: Kroos, Illarramendi, James, Modric, Isco, Medrán
- Strikers: Bale, Cristiano, Benzema, Chicharito
Projected lineup: Casillas, Carvajal, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema.
TV Information: Canal+ Liga de Campeones 2 (Spain), FOX Sports (United States), Sky Go (UK), Others.
Prediction: Ludogorets 1-3 Real Madrid