Dermendzhiev: Ludogorets facing a different Real Madrid

The Bulgarians were narrowly beaten by the European champions in Sofia in October but Los Blancos are now on a 18-game winning streak

Georgi Dermendzhiev believes Ludogorets will face a very different Real Madrid side on Tuesday night to the one they hosted on Champions League matchday two.

The Bulgarians took a shock lead through Marcelinho during the two sides’ met in Sofia on October 1 only to see Cristiano Ronaldo level matters from the penalty spot before Karim Benzema netted a late winner for the visitors.

Dermendzhiev is hoping Ludogorets can cause Madrid just as many problems at the Santiago Bernabeu but has acknowledged that Carlo Ancelotti’s men are now brimming with belief on account of their club-record 18-match winning streak.

“I hope Real Madrid win the Champions but they did not have the usual motivation level in Sofia,” the Ludogorets boss told reporters on Monday. “I think we played well there.

“But the entire Real Madrid team is in good shape now. We know their game well and Cristiano’s, too.

“But it’s not just about him. We know that he scores goals because of the way in which they play.

“If they win [on Tuesday], they will further extend their record and I think that this is what they are most concerned with at the moment.”

Ronaldo, of course, is in sensational goalscoring form, having netted a hat-trick in Saturday’s Liga win over Celta to take his goals tally for the season in all competitions to 29 in 21 appearances.

The Portuguese, who fired Madrid to Champions League glory last season, is the favourite to win this year’s Ballon d’Or and Dermendzhiev would like to see the 29-yer-old pip Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi to the prestigious prize.

“It is a very complicated question, as both are fantastic, the best players in the world,” he added. “But I want Cristiano to win it.”

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