Back at the start of September, Hoffenheim were hotly fancied to make it out of Group C unscathed; however, with one match to go, the German outfit are the only one of the bunch who cannot progress to the knockout rounds. In contrast, Ludogorets have performed well throughout the process. The Bulgarians come into this match knowing that a point will more than likely see them through in second place. Having said that, the visitors might fancy themselves to take all three, especially since the hosts have nothing left to fight for.
They might be at home, but considering that they’re now out of the competition, and will no doubt have better things to focus on, it’s something of a surprise to see that Hoffenheim are strong favourites in the early market. As good a job as Julian Nagelsmann has done at Rhein-Neckar-Arena in recent times, Hoffenheim have been well below their best in the UEL this season. Perhaps it’s the disappointment of failing to get through the UCL play-offs, or maybe they’ve just found it tough to match what has been pleasing league form on the continent. Either way, at the prices, the visitors, who’ve looked far more assured in this competition, look slightly big in the betting.
Based on what we’ve seen from these two teams in Group C, backing ‘Lugodorets Double Chance’ makes plenty of sense. The fact that the visitors have something to really get stuck in for here is a big factor. What’s more, the Bulgarian outfit have been tough to beat in this competition, especially on the road. Ludogrets’ away win away at Braga, where Hoffenheim subsequently lost on match-day five, is a very eye-catching result. On that occasion, the visitors managed to stick to their task well; they were tough to get past and showed a real willingness to spring on the counter. Given the way Hoffenheim have generally failed at both ends of the pitch in this group, similar tactics could once again pay dividends for Dimitar Dimitrov’s men.
Defending has been a big problem for the hosts in this competition, and, considering they’ve now got nothing left to play for other than pride, while changes could also be made, it’s difficult to see them improving too much in that respect. Nagelsmann’s men have conceded a rather worrying total of nine goals in five matches, while they’ve kept zero clean sheets in the process. Such stats don’t bode well, particularly since this game is now a dead-rubber as far as they’re concerned.
When these two met in Bulgaria, it was Ludogorets who came out on top. Based on what the pair have achieved since, coupled with the fact that Hoffenheim have essentially already been eliminated from the competition, a reversal of that outcome looks unlikely.
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