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Preview: FC Midtjylland vs. Ludogorets Razgrad - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between FC Midtjylland and Ludogorets Razgrad, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

In the opening round of fixtures in this year's Europa League, FC Midtjylland will play host to Ludogorets Razgrad on Thursday.

Both sides went through the qualification rounds for the Champions League, but fell short and now find themselves in Group F of Europe's secondary competition.

Match preview

FC Midtjylland's Raphael Onyedika celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on July 28, 2021© Reuters

After missing out on the Danish top-flight title by just one point last season, Midtjylland entered this year's Champions League qualification at the second round, and they faced a tough draw against Scottish giants Celtic.

An Evander equaliser saw them earn a commendable 1-1 draw away from home, and the second leg ended in the same scoreline to see the tie go to extra time, with the Danish outfit prevailing as Raphael Onyedika netted the winning goal.

That saw them progress and take on PSV Eindhoven in the third round, but the Ulvene were handed a 4-0 thrashing over two legs to see them drop into the Europa League group stage, after finishing fourth in their Champions League group last season.

While they come into the game on the back of a strong start to the domestic season, winning six of their opening eight league games, Bo Henriksen's side did recently suffer a harmful 2-0 defeat to title-rivals Brondby, although they managed to bounce back with a convincing 2-0 home victory over Nordsjaelland on Friday, and they will now look to build on that with what would be an important opening win.

C Midtjylland coach Bo Henriksen celebrates after the match on July 28, 2021© Reuters

They play host to a Ludogorets Razgrad side who arrive in an impressive run of form, having won their last four games in all competitions.

Thursday's visitors won the Bulgarian top flight for the 10th straight season last time around, booking their place in the second qualifying round of the Champions League, and the Eagles progressed with a 3-1 aggregate victory over Slovenian side NS Mura, as Elvis Manu and Cauly netted late goals in the second leg.

Valdas Dambrauskas's side then faced a tough test against Greek giants Olympiacos, and the tie went to penalties after a 3-3 aggregate draw, with Ludogorets eventually prevailing to go within one two-legged affair of reaching the group stage.

After a 2-0 first-leg defeat in their clash with Malmo, the Eagles battled hard on home turf, but their 2-1 win was not enough to overturn the deficit as they instead dropped into the Europa League, after the same happened last year, with the Bulgarian outfit failing to collect a point from their six group games in Europe's secondary competition in the 2020-21 season.

They will hope for a vastly improved showing this time around and come into the opening game in strong form, having won all of their first five domestic games to sit at the top of the Bulgarian top flight.

FC Midtjylland form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Ludogorets Razgrad form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

FC Midtjylland's Raphael Onyedika celebrates scoring against Celtic on July 28, 2021© Reuters

Midtjylland goalkeeper Jonas Lossl was absent from the squad for the recent league clash with Nordsjaelland, and Elias Rafn Olafsson could again feature between the sticks if the former Everton man stopper to miss out.

Defender Henrik Dalsgaard will play a key role, having recently arrived from Brentford, and he could again form a back three with Juninho and captain Erik Sviatchenko.

Evander and Raphael Onyedika should continue to form a strong midfield pairing, while Junior Brumado will again lead the line with the support of Gustav Isaksen and Awer Mabil.

Ludogorets should certainly stick with a similar core of players to the one that saw them come within touching distance of reaching the Champions League, with Claude Goncalves and Stephane Badji operating in the engine room.

Dambrauskas switched to a system of four at the back for the second leg against Malmo, and Jordan Ikoko, Ihor Plastun, Olivier Verdon and Anton Nedyalkov could again line up across the defence.

Pieros Sotiriou will continue to lead the line, after hitting three goals in their Champions League Qualifying campaign.

FC Midtjylland possible starting lineup:
Olafsson; Dalsgaard, Sviatchenko, Juninho; Andersson, Nwadike, Evander, Dyhr; Isaksen, Brumado, Mabil

Ludogorets Razgrad possible starting lineup:
Kahlina; Ikoko, Plastun, Verdon, Nedyalkov; Badji, Goncalves; Despodov, Souza, Wanderson; Sotiriou

SM words green background

We say: FC Midtjylland 2-1 Ludogorets Razgrad

Despite the visitors going a stage further in qualifying for the Champions League, Midtjylland arguably boast the stronger squad, and we back them to get over the line with home advantage.

The game could certainly go either way, but the hosts' well-rounded squad should have enough quality to start with a positive result.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Kristoffer Ajer in action for Celtic on September 19, 2019
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