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Crusaders to take on Bulgarian champions Ludogorets in Champions League

By Adam McKendry

Danske Bank Premiership champions Crusaders have been drawn against Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad in the first qualifying round for the Champions League.

It's a very tough draw for the Crues, who will know they are up against it in their quest to reach the second round against a side with plenty of recent European experience.

The Bulgarian champions have reached the knockouts of the Europa League the last two years, while they made the group stages of the Champions League in the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.

Ludogorets have dominated Bulgarian football since they made it into the top flight having won every league title since the 2011-12 season, while they have also won two Bulgarian Cups and two Bulgarian SuperCups.

This will be the first time that a Northern Irish side has faced Ludogorets, however the Razgrad-based side have come up against English opposition having faced Liverpool and Arsenal before.

The first leg will be played at Ludogorets Arena on the 11 July at 6pm UK time with the return leg at Seaview on the 17 July at 8pm.

The winners of that tie will face either F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg) or Videoton FC (Hungary) in the second qualifying round.

Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers' Celtic have been drawn against Armenian champions FC Alashkert in their first round qualifier and League of Ireland champions Cork City face tough opposition in Polish side Legia Warsaw.

Should Celtic progress, they will face either Valur Reykjavik (Iceland) or Rosenborg BK (Norway) in the next round, while Cork City would be in line to meet either FC Spartak Trnava (Slovakia) or HSK Zrinjski (Croatia).

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