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Lazio run into Ludogorets

Published: Sunday 5 January 2014, 22.05CET
SS Lazio came through the group stage unbeaten, but so did their UEFA Europa League round of 32 opponents PFC Ludogorets Razgrad, who are making their springtime European debut.
Lazio run into Ludogorets
Lazio have lost at home to Bulgarian opposition before ©Getty Images
Published: Sunday 5 January 2014, 22.05CET

Lazio run into Ludogorets

SS Lazio came through the group stage unbeaten, but so did their UEFA Europa League round of 32 opponents PFC Ludogorets Razgrad, who are making their springtime European debut.

SS Lazio will look to stop PFC Ludogorets Razgrad becoming only the second Bulgarian club to win a game in Italy as the sides meet in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

Previous meetings
• The teams are meeting for the first time and this is Ludogorets' first encounter with Italian opponents.

• Lazio's previous four games against Bulgarian opponents ended W3 D0 L1 (W1 D0 L1 in Rome – W2 D0 L0 in Bulgaria).

• That lone Lazio defeat – 1-0 to PFC Levski Sofia in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League group stage – remains the only victory for a Bulgarian club in 23 visits to Italy, with Italian sides' home record against Bulgarian teams reading W17 D5 L1.

Match background
• Lazio made it to last season's UEFA Europa League quarter-finals – their most successful European campaign since reaching the last four of the 2002/03 UEFA Cup.

• Lazio came through the UEFA Europa League group stage undefeated (W3 D3) for the second consecutive campaign, with a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their quarter-final elimination by Fenerbahçe SK last season extending their unbeaten run to seven games.

• Lazio are also unbeaten in ten European home fixtures (W7 D3) since a 3-1 loss to Club Atlético de Madrid at this stage of the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League.

• Ludogorets were only promoted to the Bulgarian top flight for the first time in 2011, but won back-to-back titles, and are now enjoying by far the best of their two campaigns in Europe, having made it to the group stage for the first time this season.

• Ludogorets progressed through the group stage in style (W5 D1), notably winning all three of their away fixtures.

Team facts
• Ludogorets' Romanian midfielder Cosmin Moţi has some experience of Italian football, having played on loan at AC Siena in 2008. Moţi and Lazio defender Ştefan Radu were team-mates at FC Dinamo Bucureşti from 2005–08, winning the 2006/07 title together.

• Tottenham Hotspur FC, Ludogorets and Real Betis Balompié boasted the meanest defences, with just two goals conceded each.

• Ukraine and Italy are the most represented countries in the round of 32 with four teams each.

• Ludogorets are the first Bulgarian side to reach the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

• Ludogorets' Slovenian striker Roman Bezjak celebrates his 25th birthday on 21 February, the day after the Lazio game.

• Ludogorets are one of nine domestic champions in the round of 32 along with AFC Ajax (Netherlands), FC Basel 1893 (Switzerland), Juventus (Italy), Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (Israel), NK Maribor (Slovenia), FC Viktoria Plzeň (Czech Republic), FC Porto (Portugal) and FC Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine).

Coach information
• Lazio parted company with coach Vladimir Petković at the start of January, with the Bosnian-born tactician already having agreed to take charge of the Swiss national team from summer 2014.

• Edoardo Reja, who had been replaced by Petković in summer 2012, has resumed control at Lazio on an 18-month contract. The one-time midfielder has been a coach since 1979, specialising in leading sides to promotion to Serie A. He famously steered SSC Napoli back to the top division in 2007 and moved abroad to HNK Hajduk Split before taking the reins at Lazio for the first time in 2010.

• Brought in to replace Ivaylo Petev as Ludogorets coach in July, Stoicho Stoev was a stylish forward with PFC Lokomotiv Sofia in the 1980s, though he maintained a European outlook and classed Arrigo Sacchi as his coaching idol. After taking charge of a number of smaller Bulgarian clubs, he led Ludogorets – his local side – to their first UEFA Europa League group stage campaign after defeat by Basel in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.

Round of 16
• The winners of this tie will take on FC Dynamo Kyiv or Valencia CF in the round of 16, playing the first leg at home.

• Lazio met Dynamo in the 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League first group stage, winning 2-1 at home and 1-0 in Ukraine. Valencia eliminated Lazio in the quarter-finals of the same edition of the competition, winning 5-2 at Mestalla then losing 1-0 in Rome.

• Ludogorets have met neither of their potential opponents.

Last updated: 17/02/14 13.08CET

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http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2014/matches/round=2000470/match=2012627/prematch/background/index.html#lazio+into+ludogorets

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