Scouting Report: Ludogorets v Arsenal

We return to Champions League action against Ludogorets on Tuesday, and ahead of the game Michael Cox analyses their strengths and the key areas.

The manager

Ludogorets coach Georgi Dermendziev has assembled an organised side committed to playing out from the back, as was obvious at the Emirates - even if the Bulgarians were eventually beaten 6-0.

Dermendziev has deployed exactly the same starting XI in all three matches - and don’t expect any changes this time around.


It will be the usual 4-2-3-1 formation for the Bulgarian champions, with both full-backs pushing forward - probably more than at the Emirates. Yordan Minev is a veteran at 35, but left-back Natanael Pimienta is a very dynamic player.

In midfield, Svetoslav Dyakov captains the Bulgarian national side and occupies the deepest midfield slot, while Anicet breaks forward to the edge of the opposition box.


Despite the thrashing at the Emirates, Ludogorets proved they’re a very capable side in a technical sense - and they actually dominated possession overall in the reverse fixture.

Of course that counts for little when you lose 6-0, and Arsenal inevitably played on the counter-attack throughout the second half. But goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov was committed to short passing from the back, while centre backs Cosmin Moti and Jose Luis Palomino bring the ball forward confidently. Don’t expect Ludogorets to simply hit the ball long and retreat into a defensive shell.


Marcelinho, the No 10, is a classic Brazilian playmaker and completed more passes than any other player in the game at the Emirates. He drops deep to overload the midfield zone, and helps Ludogorets to build from deep.

Areas to target

Although it didn’t prove particularly vital in the first leg, Ludogorets are a short team - only the centre-backs above 5ft 11in - and goalkeeper Stoyanov doesn’t look likely to command his box. Set-pieces could be vital in getting the breakthrough.

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