When in Bulgaria, do as the Bulgarians!

European football is back after a two week break and whilst the second round of the Champions League will only be concluded next week, the next round of the Europa League begins again on Thursday. One of the games to keep an eye on is the matchup between Spanish side Valencia and little known FK Ludogorets of Bulgaria. Valencia go into this game full of confidence having recently defeated the mighty Barcelona at Camp Nou but it is Ludogorets that has caught our attention. Not only are they top of the A PFG table but in the last round of the Europa League, they put out Italian giants Lazio! Despite being relative unknowns, they dominated the game with 54% and were well worth their aggregate win. It was clear that playing against bigger teams held no fear for them.

As we always like to look out for the lesser known players here at SportsMatrix, we cast an eye over Ludogorets’s performances in the Bulgarian A PFG to see what kind of football the Bulgarians play.

First things first – the basics. As can be seen below, Ludogorets have dominated live ball possession in their league games this season so far. Of course, the level of opposition in Bulgaria is more than likely significantly different to that of Valencia but it does give us a good indication of the style of play employed by the Bulgarians. Once we had established that Ludogorets enjoy a large amount of live ball possession, it was important to see what they did with it compared to their opponents. We can see below that Ludogorets have significantly more attacking actions per game than their opponents.

So we know that they like to attack and build attacks but each team have their own unique style when it comes to building an attack. We thus looked at the various build up styles and saw something quite interesting. As can be seen below, there is a significant leaning towards passing with almost half their build ups involving a passing style.

Now what was truly fascinating was the fact that when we looked at how many of those particular build ups resulted in a situation from which a shot on goal could have been taken or indeed was taken we saw some interesting results. Despite relying on passing the ball more than anything else, Ludogorets were least successful in this regard. They had greater success with the long ball than with passing so that is perhaps something for them to take into consideration.

Finally, once we had figured out how they got into those dangerous situations, we looked at their shots on goal. They did manage to take a significant amount of shots, on average per game – this being 15.6. We saw that when they did get a shot on goal and it would be of a decent or good quality, they would make it count.

So it seems that any team facing Ludogogrest should try break up their passing game but be wary of when they do use the long ball as it has brought them some success as once they are in a position to take a shot, they do make the most of it.

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