Tuesday 16th September 2014. Mark it in your diaries because Liverpool are back in the Champions League! The Reds last appearance in the competition was way back in December 2009 when they were beaten by La Viola at Anfield. Nobody could have predicted the length of time we'd be away but the five time champions are back and ready to take on the Bulgarian side Ludogorets.
Injuries for the Reds mean they are without Allen, Can, Sturridge, Johnson and Flanagan. Positively for Liverpool though Martin Skrtel is fit again however he is not expected to feature. Lazar Markovic is also unavailable for Brendan Rodgers due to a suspension.
Ludogorets' main injury issue concerns their men between the sticks. First choice goalkeeper Stoyanov is unavailable after being sent off in Ludogorets' play off tie with Steaua Bucharest. Now worryingly for the Bulgarian's their second choice keeper has also been ruled out with a shoulder injury and so they have had to call up 23 year old Argilashki who hasn't even started a league game.
There's no hiding from the fact that this is a real blow for Ludogorets but sometimes these situations create funny results with the keeper playing an absolute blinder. Here's hoping that's not the story on Tuesday night though.
Who are Ludogorets?
- Ludogorets Razgrad are a Bulgarian team playing in A Group, the top division of Bulgarian football.
- The team were only founded in 2001 originally under the name "Ludogorie FC"
- "Ludogorie" means "region of wild forests" referring to the area of Bulgaria which they hail from.
- Their nickname is "The Eagles" and in 2014 Lazio decided to present them with a live one.
- Their ground "Ludogorets Arena" has a capacity of just 8,000.
- They're about 200 miles from the Black Sea.
- They had a decent Europa League campaign last season beating the likes of PSV and Lazio but losing out to Valencia in the round of 16.
I asked you for your score predictions for this one and here are a few of the tweets I received:
@_TheLiverBird LFC 2-0 Ludogorets Think we'll have enough for them. Sterling, Balotelli to score.
— Muhammad Usama (@OnlyEmreCan) September 15, 2014
@LFCKirstyLFC 3-0 to the reds and we get back on track after a disappointing weekend result #YNWA
— Shane Mc Quillan (@shanesaysthat) September 15, 2014
@LFCKirstyLFC lfc 3-1 ludogorets
— Dante Alessandria (@DanteRED) September 15, 2014
@LFCKirstyLFC 4-1 LFC
— Ed Barnes (@edbarnes78) September 15, 2014
You all seem very confident from the tweets I've been reading and why the hell not? I think we've been fortunate having our first CL fixture at Anfield and after the complete mishap against Aston Villa I believe as a tweeter above says that we can get things back on track here.
I desperately want Balotelli to score, those who follow me on various social media platforms will see I finally had his name printed on my shirt yesterday. I'd just like to take the opportunity to once again thank everybody that joined my JD score predictor league and helped me win the gift voucher to purchase our third strip! Much appreciated!!!
Whilst I seriously want Balotelli to score, I'm not too sure he will. It depends on how we set up and to be honest I can't see Balotelli having the support up top with him. For this reason if I get chance to pop a quid on tomorrow on the way home from work I'm definitely having a go on a Sterling scorecast!
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!