CSKA Moskva stand on the brink of elimination from Group H, whereas Ludogorets could qualify despite a 6-0 loss last time out.
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With just one point to show from their first four Group H encounters, CSKA Moskva stand on the brink of elimination, whereas visitors Ludogorets, though heavily beaten in Spain last time out, could make it through to the knockout phase with a game in hand.
• CSKA have not recovered from an opening 5-1 defeat in Bulgaria, losing successive home games against Espanyol (0-2) and Ferencváros (0-1) before finally getting off the mark last time out with a goalless draw in Budapest. Ludogorets, meanwhile, began their group campaign with a bang, following up that big home win against CSKA with a 3-0 success in Budapest, only for Espanyol to cut them down to size with back-to-back wins, the second of them a 6-0 victory in Barcelona in which the visitors had two men sent off.
• CSKA must win to keep alive their qualifying hopes, but that will not be good enough if Ferencváros avoid defeat at home to Espanyol. Ludogorets will also be hoping for an away win in Budapest as that would take them through if they were to claim all three points themselves in Moscow.
• Ludogorets' eight seasons of European football had not featured any matches against Russian opposition until they overturned a half-time deficit to overrun CSKA 5-1 at home on Matchday 1, a Claudiu Keşerü hat-trick completing the scoring after earlier strikes from Wanderson and Jody Lukoki had overturned Igor Diveev's 11th-minute effort – still the Russian side's only goal in the group.
• CSKA's only other encounter with a Bulgarian club was a 2-1 home win against Levski Sofia in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage. It was the then holders' only victory in the section, however, and they failed to reach the knockout phase in defence of their trophy.
• CSKA finished fourth in last season's Russian Premier League, missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League, where they had been group stage participants for six straight years, but qualifying directly for a first UEFA Europa League group campaign since their only previous participation in 2010/11.
• They collected 16 points from their six group games in 2010/11 to top their section and progress to the round of 16, where they were eliminated by eventual winners Porto. Two seasons ago, having finished third in their UEFA Champions League group, the 2004/05 UEFA Cup winners made it to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by Arsenal.
• CSKA won all three of their Moscow fixtures in that 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage, but the eight home matches they have played in the competition since then, qualifying phase included, have yielded just one victory (D2 L5).
• Ludogorets' eighth consecutive Bulgarian league title earned them a place in this season's UEFA Champions League first qualifying round, where they were knocked out by Ferencváros, losing both legs (1-2 a, 2-3 h). They subsequently came through UEFA Europa League qualifiers against Valur, The New Saints and, in the play-offs, Maribor to reach the group stage of this competition for the third year in a row, and fourth in all.
• The Razgrad club were successful in their first two UEFA Europa League group stage participations, reaching the round of 16 in 2013/14 and round of 32 in 2017/18, but failed to win any of their six games last season (D4 L2), finishing bottom of a group containing Bayer Leverkusen, Zürich and AEK Larnaca. They also competed in the 2016/17 round of 32, having finished third in their UEFA Champions League group.
• Having won their first four away fixtures on their debut UEFA Europa League participation, Ludogorets have been victorious in only two of the subsequent 11 (D5 L4), the latest defeat, at Espanyol, ranking as their joint heaviest in European competition.
Links and trivia
• In 2016/17 Ludogorets defender Georgi Terziev was loaned to Croatian side Hajduk Split, where he was a team-mate of current CSKA midfielder Nikola Vlašić.
• This is only the third time in their European history that CSKA have gone three matches without scoring, the most recent case being in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League group stage. They have never gone four European games in a row without a goal.
• Ludogorets have won their last ten matches in the Bulgarian First League and have a seven-point lead at the top of the table.
• Appointed by CSKA to replace long-serving coach Leonid Slutski in December 2016, Viktor Goncharenko had earned a growing reputation in Russian football, notably as Slutski's assistant. He made his name as a coach in his native Belarus at BATE Borisov, winning five straight league titles and leading the club into the UEFA Champions League group stage on three occasions. In his first full season as CSKA boss he led the Muscovites to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals and a runners-up spot in the domestic league.
• Aleksi Zhelyazkov was officially promoted from Ludogorets assistant coach to head coach at the end of October, effectively swapping positions with Stanislav Genchev. The 57-year-old from Burgas is predominantly known in his homeland as the right-hand man of former Bulgaria national team coach Dimitar Dimitrov. The pair started working together at Neftochimik Burgas in the mid-1990s, then for Litex Lovech, Bulgaria and Russian club Amkar Perm. He was later employed as an assistant to Ivaylo Petev, including one spell at Ludogorets, and in 2018 returned to the Razgrad club as chief scout.