Real Betis vs Ludogorets
Estadio Benito Villamarin plays host to a tasty-looking Europa League encounter between high-flying Real Betis and Ludogorets.
Barring a somewhat expected 2-1 defeat at the hands of defending La Liga champions Real Madrid, it’s been a truly inspirational start to the new season for Betis. Manuel Pellegrini’s men scored on either side of halftime to sink HJK in their Europa League Group C opener and went on to dispatch fierce domestic rivals Villarreal 1-0 at the weekend, making it five wins out of six competitive fixtures this term (L1). Back to the European front, ‘Los Verdiblancos’ can find more courage in knowing they’ve never lost a home match in the Europa League group stages (W5, D4), registering six clean sheets in the process. Betis’ defensive stubbornness has been a secret ingredient behind their eye-catching competitive success in 2022/23, with four of the Spaniards’ five wins coming ‘to nil.’
As for Ludogorets, an outstanding 2-1 home triumph over last season’s Europa Conference League winners Roma in their Europa League Group C curtain-raiser shows the Bulgarian champions mean business this term. Keen to find a way out of the Europa League group stages for the first time since 2017/18, the ‘Eagles’ face a formidable challenge here, having lost all six previous European meetings with Spanish clubs by an aggregate score of 17-1. Moreover, Ludogorets have picked up just two victories in their last 19 Europa League fixtures on hostile turf (D7, L10) after winning their first four on the road. Bringing this season’s European qualifiers into the equation, Ante Simundza’s men are winless in their last three continental contests away from home (D1, L2).