Thursday December 14 2017
Bulgarian test for Milan

At first glance Ludogorets might seem a simple draw for Milan, but Richard Hall sees hidden dangers in the Europa League giant-killers.

It might be Christmas, but for the Rossoneri it was UEFA handing out the presents this week in the Europa League draw. Whilst the Milanese smiled as the unwanted gifts of trips to Marseille, Lyon and more importantly Borussia Dortmund were avoided, this didn’t mean they got the present they hoped for. A trip to Bulgaria to face Ludogorets is something they may not choose to return, but it has to be said, it’s not something they wanted either.

For Milan, the Europa League may well be their best way of satisfying the huge ambition of their fanbase this term. The season hasn’t gone as planned and from the outset it looked like they had spent much, but not gained what they needed. Vincenzo Montella was replaced by fan favourite Gennaro Gattuso, but with the Scudetto already out of reach, an assault on the Europa League would certainly give the Rossoneri that warm and familiar feel of European success again.

Ludogorets may not spread fear into the hearts of the European giants, but they certainly do domestically. The club formed in 2001 known as Ludogorie FC were renamed Razgrad 2000 after a merger and still could not manage to get the finances in place to lead an assault on Bulgaria’s top division. Things changed in 2010, as businessman Kiril Domuschiev bought the club and rights to the name of Ludogorets Razgrad, a team formed in 1945 and folded in 2006.

The team gained promotion to the top flight after winning the second division in 2011 and they haven’t looked back. They have won six back-to-back titles and two Bulgarian Cups. This absolute dominance has also seen them make their first forays into Europe and for such a new team in one of Europe’s ‘lesser leagues’, they have had a huge impact making the Champions League in 2014-15 and 2016-17, and the Europa League in 2013-14, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Their home ground the Ludogorets Arena saw European Football for the first time this year (it has a seating capacity of 9,000) and will hardly strike fear in to those who play at San Siro.

Since 2012 however, they have taken on and beaten the likes of Partisan Belgrade, PSV, Dinamo Zagreb, Lazio (in the Olimpico), Basel, Braga and Hoffenheim. They have also got credible draws against PSG, Liverpool, Lazio and FC Copenhagen, and these are just the ones worth noting. When Milan face the Bulgarians, they will not be allowed to take them lightly, as they only lost once this in the group stages to İstanbul Başakşehir, eventually finishing second in the group.

There is no doubt that if Milan start to go on an upward run and play like the side their team-sheet threatens they should, then this will be a tough but winnable game. If the Rossoneri’s form is still wavering, then this could be difficult as the fixtures are played in February. The first leg comes in between games against an away game at SPAL and then Sampdoria (home) with the second leg following the next week before a tough tie against Roma in the Olimpico.

It is known how the season will progress for Milan but if they take the Europa League seriously, then they should have enough in their arsenal get past the tough and talented Bulgarian champions. To dismiss them would be at their peril, as they have a track record of giant-killing and will smell blood if they are not ready. Milan have had their 'Alberto Brignoli moment' already this year and they will not want another in Bulgaria.

Have your say...
@ viktor

Bulgarian Test for 42M/7.5M Captain Clown Bonucci.

on the 20th December, 2017 at 10:52pm
@milan milan milan

If you're an adult and express yourself the way you do, it's embarrassing. Flunk many classes did we?

Keep having a monologue then. You add zero value to this feed.
on the 20th December, 2017 at 10:42am
It's actually you're the one who goes personal way too often. Like i said I DIDN'T ASK YOU TO REPLY MY COMMENT.
on the 19th December, 2017 at 10:57am
Mostly, top players struggle to adapt in NEW FORMATION OR NEW POSITION. Clownucci's case is different. Montella gave Clownucci everything that he likes so he can shine instantly but he failed miserably.

Clownucci isn't the coach! He's A PLAYER. It's not his duty to mentor young players. All he needs to do is playing well as a defender, that way, he will gain respect from youngsters. So far he can't defend well because he's too obsessed with long balls.
on the 19th December, 2017 at 10:56am
@ viktor

No, I'm not a teenager... Oh boy, you are so funny with all of your guesses on me and they are all wrong. LOLOLOLOLOL

Ofcourse age is crucial in this business. Clownucci at his peak was expected by all Milan fans including you to perform with the same level as he was at Juve INSTANTLY... You are a bad liar. LOL

I just expressed my thought on Clownucci and did I ask you to reply my comment? Btw, the topic was related to my comment. Clownucci is the captain of Milan, isn't it?
on the 19th December, 2017 at 10:54am
@Milan Milan Milan

and clearly the comparison between Cavani and Bonucci is different it was merely an example where a player that was on top of hes game and struggle at hes arrival.

Dont you think it hard for Bonucci to mentor young players such as calabria, Mustachio, Romangoli, etc not to mention settle in.

You dwell far off the topic and goes personal way too often, it just gets boring so lets the grown up talk and you can focusing on lol'ing and whatever kids do these days.
on the 18th December, 2017 at 8:00pm
@Milan Milan Milan

Considering the way you express yourself, I'm pretty certain your teenager?
You mention age, repeatedly, it's not a crucial aspect in this topic, 31 years old, is still an acceptable age in any position, absolutely as center back.

No one expected Bonucci to command and be the same level as he was at Juve instantly, thats where you are wrong.

Now, how about you focus on your owns teams performance and topic that relates to that because you are only wasting peoples time.
on the 18th December, 2017 at 7:56pm
Clownucci came to Milan (not went abroad like Cavani did) at his peak (31y.o) in a formation that launched his name as one the best defenders in Italy. Unlike Cavani, the formation is made to exploit his talents. And what happened? So far he delivered uninspired performances. He's weak and clumsy. What happen with Bonucci that we know in Juve?

Perhaps, He's NOT that good. With his sh*tty performances, NONE will take him for 40 Millions transfer and 7.5 million salary. WAKE UP KID! LOLOLOLOL
on the 18th December, 2017 at 6:04pm
@ viktor

LOL viktor... You mentioned Cavani to be compared with Bonucci's situation. Are you in PANIC MODE?


Young Cavani (25y.o) came to France to play different football than he used to play in Italy. He came to PSG to compete with mega star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Oh dear, he never shined when Zlatan was in PSG because mainly he was forced to play as a winger.

And now, let's take a look at this Clownucci that is loved so much by some Milan fans.
on the 18th December, 2017 at 6:03pm
@Milan Milan Milan

You make ZERO sense. Clearly havent touched football in your entire life yourself nor played a game.

IT TAKES TIME. Repeat that to yourself. Cavani was AWFUL first season with PSG then eventually he started playing better.

ANY Juve fan are clearly bitter of losing their future captain but happy is under performing with Milan CURRENTLY.

if we want we can sell him for AT LEAST same tag in 6 month, so joker on you. You could have got 75 for him, now you got half. LOL
on the 18th December, 2017 at 4:08pm
@ viktor

LOL Poor viktor. Is it so hard to admit the fact that Capt. Clownucci is a flop? 42M transfer and as the highest paid players in Milan, he was surely expected to produce top class performance in Milan's defense and sadly he's NOT. In the contrary, Clownucci always produced clumsy performances and was too timid when in 1 on 1 situations. He was like "Help! I can't take the ball off him! Get your butt over here and don't expect me to tackle him without cover coz I'm not Chiellini!"

on the 18th December, 2017 at 9:55am
@ Viktor you should just ignore those idiots. It’s not like they’re adding anything to the conversation.

@ J and Nouman thanks for the insight. I tried to keep my post positive for once but then Verona happens. If Gattuso is still in charge come February then we’ll struggle. I’m not sure why people (particularly Fassone and Mirabelli) think being a top manager is so easy. The season’s a write off. Come next summer I expect to see them gone. The decision to appoint Gattuso is the last straw
on the 17th December, 2017 at 11:47pm
I think they let me post because its nice to laugh at weird little fans like you that was spouting nonsense like juve was done and milan was going to win eveeything in the world. When all the juve fans said was, no, bonucci is lame hhahahahahajajaj
on the 17th December, 2017 at 9:22pm
Oh shut up and just accept the fact that milan and bonucci is very lame lol
on the 17th December, 2017 at 9:10pm

I never said a walk in the park, but on the European stage, Ac milan rarely under achieve.

the 3-0 to hellas was extremely flattering for Hellas, Milan could have easily scored the same but since for some weird reason they insist on playing Kalinic, thats what happens
on the 17th December, 2017 at 8:24pm
@Anonymous I have no idea why FI let you keep writting you nonsens let alone personal stuff. We get it, you didnt want Bonucci to leave, its quite obvious.
on the 17th December, 2017 at 8:23pm

After losing 3:0 by Hellas, do you still think Ludogorets will be a walk in the park, because they play in Bulgaria? :) Man, you have no idea what is coming your way :)
on the 17th December, 2017 at 3:00pm
Hahahahahahahahh moise keane and bessa. What did flopnucci do about them ? Nothing hahahahah . Dont worry he will improve still boy i will get fed up of laughin at him in january or so i promise.
on the 17th December, 2017 at 2:33pm
31 is a good age if you are a good defender lol anyways in your head you prob believe you have a team of super stars that are just not performing well at the moment hhahahahah boy milan is lame and flopnucci is lame. Its only down hill for milan now.
on the 17th December, 2017 at 12:58pm
Why would we be bitter you idiot lol. Milan is doing worse than last season and juve is doing better. Results dont lie you sad little boy. Bonucci is lame. In your weird world you alone think he is good lol.
on the 17th December, 2017 at 12:51pm

You do realize 31 is nothing for a defender right??

Still bitter for selling eh? Sad
on the 17th December, 2017 at 10:37am
@Milan Milan Milan

The fact that you on a Satuday evening write such a meaningless post says it all.

Bonucci is doing better and better and by May we are up top 5.

Now go away you clown (Oh, how did the Udinese lose feel btw)
on the 16th December, 2017 at 5:35pm
Flopnucci. Oh well at least he is better than andre silva hahahahahshhahahahahsjahhahahahahahahha the best defender in the world hahahahaha goin to make milan win trophies again hahahajhahaj. He is also goin to improve. At 31 yrs of age hahahahahahahhahahah
on the 16th December, 2017 at 5:05pm
Bulgarian Test for 42M/7.5M Captain Clown Bonucci.
on the 16th December, 2017 at 5:36am
yeah good article, I went to see the PSG 2-2 Ludogorets game last year and they had some really skilful players and great attacking movement although PSG should have scored a few more. However I watched one of their group stage matches this year against Braga and although they got a great 2-0 win they were a lot more defensive, I think they've got a new coach.

Anyway I agree its a tough but winnable game under a usual manager but a bit too far under Gattuso. 2-0 in Bulgaria, 1-1 in Milan.
on the 14th December, 2017 at 9:28pm
Time to go put a big bet on Ludogorets to beat milan in Bulgaria.
on the 14th December, 2017 at 9:16pm

They play in the Bulgarian league because they win it every year and get to play in CL, thus being seen by bigger clubs. You will see who will GTFO in Feb, hope to find you here again :)
on the 14th December, 2017 at 5:33pm
About Gigio:

Why is his brother there in the first place? 3rd choice keeper is hardly worth attention and yet you have to question the presence of a 27 year old who isn't Serie A quality.

Makes me wonder how much Raiola really influences Milan's board while also making room for Gigio's own family matters.

Without jumping to conclusions, I suspect a scenario of another Milan club becoming fully under their star player's whim. Just a minor thought, though, since Milan also have a problem w/UEFA
on the 14th December, 2017 at 4:37pm
@Vicktor @J PSGwent there last season played a Draw Arsenal Won in dying moments courtesy of Mesut Ozil goal if you think it will be walk in park for Milan then good luck with that. They way Milan is playing i will say Ludogorets are slight favorites. they are playing in Feb so you never know by then
on the 14th December, 2017 at 4:19pm
@viktor I wasn't happy with the Donarumma situation in the summer & how it was handled by all parties.However,let's not forget that Donarumma is only 18,world class,in demand,& has Raiola as an agent.So what happened in the summer was understandable.Since then,Donarumma has been a true professional & continues to perform at a high level.Unlike the incident in Poland which was justified,attacking him yesterday after a few baseless rumors was ridiculous & mean & it'll give him a reason to leave.
on the 14th December, 2017 at 1:39pm

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