Soccer UEFA Euro Qualification - Group Stage
Bulgaria vs Serbia - Match Preview
⚽ 20 June 2023 - 18:45 GMT +0
Bulgaria hasn’t qualified for a European Championship (ECQ) since the 2004 finals, when they crashed out in the group stage without a point to their names, and an equally measly return of one point from their three ECQ games in this cycle suggests that, even at this early stage, they won’t be heading to Germany next year. That sole point came last week in a 1-1 draw against Lithuania, yet the poor start has left fans dissatisfied with their beloved national team.
Returning to the home comforts of Razgrad is unlikely to stimulate any immediate progress for the Lions, who have won just two of their last 15 ECQ games played on Bulgarian soil (D4, L9). The most recent of those victories did come against #38-ranked Czech Republic, which could perhaps suggest they’re not completely without hope against #25-ranked Serbia.
The Eagles are the only side in Group G to have made a perfect two-game winning start, and as such, another win here will solidify Serbia’s position in the driving seat for a place at Euro 2024. Having never featured at the Euros as an independent nation, avenging the heartbreak of their play-off defeat against Scotland ahead of the 2020 edition by qualifying directly must be their primary aim.
A pair of 2-0 wins over Lithuania and neighbours Montenegro got the ball rolling, but those score lines are something of a breakaway from the norm, with ten of Serbia’s 11 prior ECQ games seeing both sides score. Having scored at least twice in each of their last five matches in an opposition country, competitive or otherwise, they look good value to hold up their end of the bargain.
📋 Players to watch: Levski Sofia and Bulgaria forward Marin Petkov scored his second senior international goal at the age of just 19 last week, with his 8.3 rating perhaps hinting at another strong showing. Also bursting onto the scene for his nation was Los Angeles Galaxy and Serbia’s Dejan Joveljić, who got off the mark at this level with a pair of goals beyond the 80’ minute in a 3-2 friendly win against Jordan last week.
⚡ Hot streak: Serbia is enjoying a national record of four consecutive ECQ away wins as an independent nation.
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