Friday, September 22, 2017

Prediction: Bulgaria vs Sweden

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: bet365

Sitting four points behind group leaders Sweden, Bulgaria are well aware that this could be their last chance to keep their qualifying hopes alive. And while Blagult are looking good at the moment, they cannot afford to relax with France and Netherlands breathing down their necks.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria entered the current qualifying campaign hoping to end a 20-year wait for a World Cup appearance as well as 14-year exile from major international competitions, and they enjoyed a decent start despite being placed in a very strong group. The Lions were soundly beaten by both France and Sweden, but back to back wins over Belarus and Netherlands seriously improved their qualifying chances. However, just as everybody expected the Lions to place extra pressure on top teams in the group, they suffered a 2-1 loss to Belarus, slipping to fourth in the standings. With four games to go, Bulgaria trail both Sweden and France four points, and only double win over Sweden and Netherlands would give them realistic hope of reaching the tournament finals. That is clearly easier said than done as their next opponents also harbour qualifying hopes and appear to be in better shape than Peter Hubchev’s side. Bulgaria have been quite convincing on home soil of late, defeating Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Belarus and Netherlands in their last four competitive fixtures, but we are not convinced they can extend the impressive run.

Team News

Crotone winger Aleksandar Tonev remains sidelined through injury, whereas veterans Svetoslav Dyakov and Yordan Minev have been overlooked.

Sweden

Sweden are clearly enjoying one of their most successful World Cup qualifying campaigns up to date and they are doing so without Manchester United superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has retired from international football. Blagult kicked off the campaign with a 1-1 draw against Netherlands and also suffered a narrow defeat in France later on, but comfortable wins over Luxembourg, Bulgaria and Belarus have them much needed confidence. Sweden then produced an excellent performance to defeat France in Solna, coming from a goal behind, to climb to the Group A summit. Tied on points with les Bleus, Blagult hold matters in their own hands, and they will fancy their chances of defeating Bulgaria and Belarus in the next two fixtures. Having recently defeated Hungary and Portugal on the road in international friendlies, Sweden have a reason for optimism ahead of the trip to Sofia. The good news is that head coach Janne Andersson doesn’t have any major selection problems, with all his key men ready to take part.

Team News

Celta Vigo striker John Guidetti is the only notable player missing through injury, while Isaac Thelin, Oscar Lewicki and Oscar Hiljemark have been overlooked.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Bulgaria won last four qualifiers on home soil
  • Sweden won last seven meetings with Bulgaria
  • Blagult didn’t concede a single goal in the process
  • Sweden won four of last five qualifiers
  • Forsberg, Berg and Toivonen scored 7 goals between them

Conclusion

Bulgaria have done really well at home of late, but they are missing an important player in Aleksandar Tonev and have failed to score a goal against Sweden in last seven meetings. Blagult will be looking to keep things tight at the back and wait for the opportunity to catch the opposition on the break, so we don’t expect to see too many goals in Sofia.

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nemanja Lazarevic


Working as editor-in-chief at Soccernews.com, Nemanja Lazarevic is responsible for organising and managing the team of writers to ensure the content produced on the site meets high industry standards and remains interesting to our readers. As our go-to guy for the football transfer news, he uses an extensive experience in the industry to dig up latest transfer stories from local sources.

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