FC Basel sit comfortably atop the Swiss Super League, with an eight point gap after only seven games played. In contrast, Ludogorets Razgrad sit in third in Bulgaria, having won five straight league titles. While it's certainly too early to read into the league season too much, Basel will be considered favorites, especially at home at St. Jakob-Park, which has nearly four times the capacity of Ludogorets' home ground. However, with Arsenal and PSG awaiting both teams, neither can afford to sit back and hope for a draw - three points are necessary to have any hope to escape the group. This match should be more exciting than you'd expect at first glance.
FC Basel have fed the Swiss national side most of their recent stars - Granit Xhaxa, Xherdan Shaqiri and Switzerland’s all-time leading scorer Alexander Frei all got their start at St. Jakob Park. After a year in the Europa league, the Swiss champions for seven consecutive years qualified for the group stage and will look to make it to the round of 16 for the third time in their history. FCB will look to Austrian Marc Janko to lead them after scoring 21 goals in all competitions last season. With PSG and Arsenal looming, FC Basel will need some heroic performances to make it out of the group this time around.
The Bulgarian champions make it to the group stage for the second time in three years after getting past Czech side Plzen in their play-off. Their squad is a mix of Brazilians looking to move up the ranks in Europe and journeymen from leagues across Eastern Europe. The Flying Eagles will be led by the Bulgarian league’s top scorer, Claudiu Keșerü, who nabbed 15 last year. Their inclusion should make for entertaining TV viewing as Arsenal and PSG visit the 8,808 capacity Ludogorets Arena.
Scored 16 goals in 20 league matches last season.
An Australian passport holder - Traoré once held ambitions to play for the Socceroos, but has since appeared for Côte d'Ivoire.