PFC Ludogorets Razgrad hold a 1-0 advantage as SS Lazio come to Bulgaria hoping to put an end to their hosts' fairytale run to the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
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PFC Ludogorets Razgrad will look to continue their dream season in the UEFA Europa League as they defend a 1-0 round of 32 lead at home against SS Lazio.
• The teams met for the first time last week, Roman Bezjak (45) scoring the only goal of a game which also featured a red card and a missed penalty for both sides. It was only the second win for a Bulgarian side in 23 visits to Italy (including two Inter-Cities Fairs Cup fixtures), with Lazio also the losers on the other occasion, going down 1-0 to PFC Levski Sofia in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Lazio's five games against Bulgarian opponents have ended W3 D0 L2 (W2 D0 L0 in Bulgaria).
• Overall, Italian sides have prevailed without conceding in the last three encounters with Bulgarian clubs in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian clubs' record in 21 UEFA club competition home games against Italian sides is W6 D5 L10.
• 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. They lost to GNK Dinamo Zagreb in the second qualifying round of last season's UEFA Champions League.
• This season Ludogorets progressed through the group stage in style (W5 D1), and remain unbeaten at home in the UEFA Europa League (W2 D1).
• 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. They are unbeaten away from home in this season's competition (W1 D2).
• Bezjak is now level with Trabzonspor AŞ's Olcan Adın and Tottenham Hotspur FC's Jermain Defoe in second place in the UEFA Europa League scorers rankings with five goals. FC Salzburg's Jonatan Soriano is the competition's top scorer with six.
• Lazio midfielder Antonio Candreva turns 27 the day after the game
• Cosmin Moţi has some experience of Italian football, having played on loan at AC Siena in 2008. He was a team-mate of Ştefan Radu at FC Dinamo Bucureşti from 2005-08, winning the 2006/07 title.
• Tottenham Hotspur FC, Ludogorets and Real Betis Balompié boasted the meanest defences in this season's group stage 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 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).
• 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 classes 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.
• 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.
• Both Ludogorets and Lazio have yet to be involved in a UEFA shoot-out.
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.
• Ludogorets have met neither of their potential opponents.
• 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.