Roma, who have already experienced European triumph this year, will begin their latest quest for continental silverware on Thursday when they face the champions of Bulgaria, Ludogorets Razgrad.
On the first day of the Europa League, the two teams in Group C face each other, with only the group winners advancing to the knockout round.
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Roma Match Preview
Roma finally won a European title after decades when they beat Feyenoord in the first Europa Conference League final in May.
In Jose Mourinho’s first season in command, Roma finished sixth in Serie A and qualified for Europe’s second-tier club competition.
Roma had gone undefeated in their first four league games before facing Udinese on Sunday night.
At the Dacia Arena, though, the hosts counterattacked Mourinho’s side and beat them 4-0.
Before that defeat, Roma had allowed only one goal this season, and with Paulo Dybala, Nicolo Zaniolo, and Tammy Abraham, they offer a danger up front.
Mourinho, clearly revitalized after his return back to Italy, will want a swift reaction from his players, which may be rotated following such a startling defeat.
Ludogorets, Real Betis, and HJK Helsinki make up Group C, from which only the top club advances directly. Runners-up enter a playoff against Champions League drop-outs, while third-place finishers descend to the Conference League.
Razgrad, Bulgaria’s winner for the 11th straight season, has been a regular in European competition. They’ve won one of six games versus Italy.
After failing to qualify for the Champions League in each of the past two seasons, Ante Simundza’s squad was ousted from the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb this year.
After beating Zalgiris in the playoffs with a last-gasp goal in extra time, they’ll host Roma this week.
The Eagles have 19 points from their first seven First League games, with two games left owing to European obligations. They beat Hebar 1918 6-0 on Sunday.
Kiril Despodov scored twice in the Bulgarian Super Cup final to force penalties, which Ludogorets won, so confidence is high ahead of Thursday’s match.
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Roma Team News
In light of the necessity to spread out his players’ fatigue and his team’s poor performance against Udinese in their most recent match, Jose Mourinho may make significant changes to his starting lineup on Thursday.
Roma’s best scorer from the Conference League last season, Tammy Abraham, will miss the next season after hurting his left shoulder in an accident at the Dacia Arena. However, neither Nicolo Zaniolo nor Georginio Wijnaldum has returned from their respective absences.
It’s possible that Paulo Dybala may get some rest in Razgrad, in which case Eldor Shomurodov or Stephan El Shaarawy will replace him in the starting lineup, while wing-back combo Leonardo Spinazzola and Rick Karsdorp will be replaced by Nicola Zalewski and Zeki Celik.
Up forward, Andrea Belotti is likely to make his Giallorossi debut after signing at the end of last month to replace the injured Tammy Abraham.
The home team often plays in a 4-3-3 system, with Kiril Despodov playing in the front third with Brazilian striker Thiago.
Cicinho, a seasoned fullback should start on the right side of Ante Simundza’s back four, while Simon Sluga, a goalkeeper originally from Croatia who just signed with Ludogorets from League Two’s Luton Town, will fight with Sergio Padt to be their final line of defense.
- Potential Starting XI for Ludogorets Razgrad: Sluga, Cicinho, Gropper, Verdon, Nedyalkov, Piotrowski, Rick, Yordanov, Tekpetey, Thiago, Despodov
- Potential Starting XI for Roma: Svilar, Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez, Celik, Camara, Cristante, Zalewski, Pellegrini, El Shaarawy, Belotti
Our Prediction: Ludogorets Razgrad 1-1 Roma
Ludogorets will not be an easy opponent for a Roma team that is still reeling from their devastating defeat over the weekend.
Ludogorets come into this matchup with a wealth of European experience on their side, including already this season. A draw would be considered a satisfactory finish for all parties, and it is the most likely scenario that will play out.
*Team/League logos may be protected by copyright and trademark of their owners. - Presentation of these logos on soccerontv.co web site and associated online platforms and mobile applications is considered to qualify as 'Fair dealing'.