CSKA Sofia - Fulham

CSKA Sofia is second placed team in domain league from previous season. They’re typical home side, last season noticed 13 wins (draw and a defeat) from 15 home games and just eight goals conceded. Recent one started in the same manner, both home wins with goal difference 7-0. As the most of East European sides, UEFA competitions accepts as more than a game. Then domain leagues drop in the shadow, players are fully motivated, public expectations are the highest… In the previous rounds, Bulgarians first eliminated Irish side Derry City (1-0 home, 1-1 away), then surprisingly (or not) Dinamo Moscow. Goalless draw at home, then 2-1 on the road. Now, appetites are even bigger. Today’s visitors come from the best league in Europe, full stadium is expected (about 40 000) and great support won’t miss. Key striker Manchev started last match from the bench and he seems fully fit after 9 months brake. Only injury concern is attacking midfielder Marquinos and his appearance is under a question mark. 

Fulham finished the previous season at the 7th place and reach Europa League. After four rounds in new one, they made 50% record with two wins and same defeats. In the first qualification round, they easy passed Lithuanian side Vetra (both games 3-0), but more problems faced against fourth Russian team Amkar. At the end, 3-1 home win was enough for progress despite the away defeat 0-1. Before the trip to Bulgaria, boss Roy Hodgson surprised the domain audience leaving at home nine players who appear in away win (2-1) over Everton, last Saturday! Goalkeeper David Stockdale and defender John Pantsil are the only players who will probably keep their places. So, chance will be given to some fringe players, like Jonathan Greening, Bjorn Helge Riise, Erik Nevland or Zoltan Gera. Though this team still should be very competitive and English football is miles above the Bulgarian, Fulham don’t have too much experience in UEFA competitions and their previous games showed the focus will be mainly on domain league. Some English clubs successfully played in Europe with the second team, Bolton few years ago for example, but personally I can not see Fulham winning here. And think, they would be fully satisfied with one point from this encounter.

The fact Fulham will appear without nine regular players is well known to all bookmakers, odds are rapidly decreasing. But on the other hand, it is well known to the bettors, stakes rapidly increase as well and this game already became a “public bet”. However, I can’t see Fulham will defeat the highly motivated hosts and despite draw would satisfy the both sides, I think Bulgarians are capable to make a slight surprise and odd arround 1.70 is worth of bet for me. I mean dnb, or AH 0.0. A draw is covered, of course.

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