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Liverpool v Ludogorets background

Five-time winners Liverpool FC mark their return to the UEFA Champions League with a Group B home fixture against competition newcomers PFC Ludogorets Razgrad.

Steven Gerrard is the only survivor of Liverpool's last meeting with Bulgarian opposition
Steven Gerrard is the only survivor of Liverpool's last meeting with Bulgarian opposition ©Getty Images

Five times champions, Liverpool FC's return to the UEFA Champions League comes in the shape of a Group B home fixture against newcomers PFC Ludogorets Razgrad.

Match background

• Brendan Rodgers' team ended their five-year exile from the UEFA Champions League by finishing second in the Premier League last season.

• Liverpool last faced Bulgarian opposition in the 2005/06 third qualifying round when they won 3-1 at PFC CSKA Sofia in the first leg, then lost 1-0 at Anfield in the return.

• Captain Steven Gerrard – who played in the first leg – is the only survivor of that tie. He also featured when Liverpool beat PFC Levski Sofia in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup third round, scoring in both legs as the Merseysiders won 2-0 at home and 4-2 away.

• The Reds' overall record against teams from Bulgaria is W6 D0 L2.

• Liverpool are in the group stage for the ninth time. In their eight previous campaigns they failed to advance from this stage only twice (2002/03 and 2009/10). In total, this is the 19th season of European Cup football for the Anfield club.

• This is the Eagles' first taste of the UEFA Champions League and also a first trip to England. The Bulgarian champions made it through qualifying at the third attempt after missing out in 2012 and 2013.

• Ludogorets defeated Luxembourg's F91 Dudelange (5-1 on aggregate) and Serbia's FK Partizan (2-2 on aggregate; away goals) in the second and third qualifying rounds respectively.

• In the play-off round Georgi Dermendzhiev's team overcame 1986 European Cup winners FC Steaua Bucureşti 6-5 on penalties. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Wanderson levelled the aggregate scores in the 90th minute of the second leg before defender Cosmin Moţi – deputising for dismissed goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov – saved two penalties in the ensuing shoot-out.

• Ludogorets reached the last 16 in their debut UEFA Europa League appearance last season before losing to Valencia CF. En route they won their group and posted four consecutive away victories at PSV Eindhoven (2-0), FC Chornomorets Odesa (1-0), GNK Dinamo Zagreb (2-1) and SS Lazio (1-0).

• Ludogorets have played in Liverpool once before, drawing 1-1 with Everton FC in a pre-season friendly behind closed doors at Goodison Park in August 2012. Marcelinho scored the Bulgarian side's goal.

Player links
• Alberto Moreno was a second-half substitute for Sevilla FC in a 2-1 win at Brayan Angulo's CD Granada in an Andalusian derby last December.

• Moţi got the better of Liverpool's neighbours Everton FC with FC Dinamo Bucureşti in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup first round, winning 5-1 at home before a 1-0 defeat on Merseyside. His Dinamo side went down 3-1 at Tottenham Hotspur FC in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage.

• Stoyanov watched from the Wembley bench as Gerrard and Glen Johnson helped England beat Bulgaria 4-0 in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier in September 2010.

• Alexandre Barthe was in the PFC Litex Lovech side beaten 4-2 on aggregate by Aston Villa FC in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup first round.

Match facts


• Emre Can and Lazar Marković are both suspended on matchday one. Can was sent off as Bayer 04 Leverkusen lost 2-1 at Paris Saint-Germain in March's round of 16 second leg; Marković received a two-match ban for his red card in SL Benfica's UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg draw at Juventus.

• Liverpool have won 99 matches in the European Cup, qualifying included.

• Liverpool had 75% possession on Saturday, and put together 749 passes to Aston Villa FC's 245 but the home side still lost 1-0 at Anfield.

• Liverpool picked up 49 points out of a possible 57 at Anfield in the Premier League last season, winning 16 of their 19 games.

• Left-back Alberto Moreno opened his Liverpool account with the third goal in a 3-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur FC on 31 August.

• Raheem Sterling and substitute Rickie Lambert set up the goals for Danny Welbeck in England's 2-0 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying triumph over Switzerland on 8 September.

• Coutinho earned his first cap in four years – his second overall – when he came on during Brazil's 1-0 friendly victory against Colombia in Miami on 5 September. He featured again four days later in a 1-0 win against Ecuador.

• Daniel Sturridge could be out for up to three weeks with a thigh injury sustained while training with England on 5 September. Can faces six weeks out with an ankle knock suffered in action for Germany's Under-21s.


• Goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov is serving a one-match ban following his red card in the play-off second leg against FC Steaua Bucureşti. His understudy, Ivan Čvorović, is ruled out with a shoulder injury.

• On Sunday, Ludogorets signed 26-year-old Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

• Ludogorets have won only seven of their 15 games in all competitions this campaign.

• The Bulgarian outfit parted company with coach Stoicho Stoev after the first leg of their third qualifying round tie against FK Partizan, replacing him with the club's academy director, Georgi Dermendzhiev.

• After back-to-back league draws, Dermendzhiev oversaw a 2-1 triumph at PFC Botev Plovdiv on Friday. Dani Abalo and Roman Bezjak were on target.

• Marcelinho requires two goals to surpass Ivan Stoyanov's total of 25 and become the club's record top-flight scorer.

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