Bulgaria commence their 2020-21 UEFA Nations League campaign at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria as they welcome Republic of Ireland in Group B4.
With Wales and Finland also in this group, victory here will be crucial to building some momentum if either team are to challenge for promotion into League A come November’s final rounds of matches.
Bulgaria will be without Ludogorets Razgrad goalkeeper, Plamen Iliev misses out with an Achilles injury which required surgery.
Republic of Ireland will be without Troy Parrott after the Millwall loanee withdrew from the squad with a muscular injury picked up during the Lions’ friendly win over Southend.
Crystal Palace’s James McCarthy meanwhile is a doubt with a calf injury despite featuring in training this week.
- Bulgaria are unbeaten in seven of their ten previous meetings against Republic of Ireland in all competitions (W3, D4, L3)
- Republic of Ireland are unbeaten in their last five clashes against Bulgaria (W2, D3), although they have kept just one clean sheet in their last six meetings.
- Bulgaria are yet to lose at home against Ireland in all competitions (W3, D1).
- Ireland have lost just one of their last five away trips in all competitions (W1, D3, L1).
- Bulgaria have won just one of their last four home games in all competitions (W1, L3), scoring just once and conceding eight goals across those four games.
This match marks Republic of Ireland’s first game under new management of Stephen Kenny and with a strong squad of quality players, there is little reason as to why this Ireland can’t win if the players turn up and deliver against a Bulgaria team who seems to be struggling at home.
Bulgaria however do know how to make a game of things going forward but narrow defeats in their last three outings, so finding that sharpness needed to penetrate the defence is certainly going to be key for Ireland, although the fact that most of their squad haven’t exactly played much competitive football since late July will be a minor issue in the opening stages.
Either way, I do feel that if Kenny can get his team and tactics right then this should be an Irish win by hook or crook against a tough but leaky Bulgarian outfit.
Prediction: Bulgaria 1-2 Republic of Ireland
Result: Bulgaria 1-1 Republic of Ireland