There will be no place in the starting lineup for PFC Levski Sofia's top UEFA Cup scorer Emil Angelov as they take on FC Schalke 04 on home soil.
There is no starting place for PFC Levski Sofia's top UEFA Cup scorer Emil Angelov as they take on FC Schalke 04 on home soil.
Out of favour
Angelov has hit four goals in the competition this season, but is expected to begin on the bench as coach Stanimir Stoilov banks on the impressive form of Valeri Domovchiyski to break down their quarter-final opponents in the Bulgarian capital. With midfielder Richard Eromoigbe suspended, Stoilov will give utility man Stanislav Angelov another chance. Angelov, who missed Sunday's 3-0 league win against PFC Pirin 1922 with a head injury, has operated at both centre-back and right-back this term.
"I hope we can continue our good form in Europe, so we will not change our style and approach against Schalke," said Stoilov. "The German team are very well organised with some great individuals, particularly in midfield and attack, but we are the home side and will feed off the enthusiasm of our fans."
Schalke right-back Rafinha is banned for the first leg, with Turkish international Hamit Altıntop likely to deputise after making his comeback from a torn muscle in Saturday's 2-2 Bundesliga draw against VfL Wolfsburg. Meanwhile, lingering doubts over the fitness of Marcelo Bordon and Darío Rodríguez have been dispelled. "Looking at their results, the Bulgarian side have to be taken seriously," said coach Mirko Slomka. "They have a strong defence and have ousted two former UEFA Champions League contenders in [FC] Artmedia and Udinese [Calcio]. I am happy to play the away game first, so we can adapt to their style."
For general manager Andreas Müller, UEFA Cup success is a matter of national pride. "This tournament's importance to us has increased now we are the only German club left in UEFA competition," he said. "All of Germany is watching us. The team want to go all the way."
"We know Levski are very strong at home and have a really impressive crowd," added midfielder Christian Poulsen. "We have to concentrate and put in a strong performance to get a result. All the quarter-finalists can make it to the final. This is our dream, because winning silverware writes your name into the history books, but we have to focus on the task at hand, which will be difficult enough."