Previewing the Bulgaria Republic of Ireland Match – The Irish will begin their 2020-21 UEFA Nations League campaign on Thursday once they lock horns with Bulgaria at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Group B4.
Bulgaria and Republic of Ireland UEFA Nations League Preview
Bulgaria were promoted to League B due to their second-placed finish in Group C3 in 2018-19, while Ireland finished the lowest of B4 but avoided relegation thanks to the format change.
The 2018-19 UEFA Nations League truly was a tale of two halves for the Bulgarian national team, who enjoyed three wins from their first three on the other hand did not triumph in their remaining fixtures.
However, the nine points that Georgi Dermendzhiev’s players picked up against Slovenia, Norway and Cyprus was enough to ascertain them take second spot and secure a route into League B for the 2020-21 tournament.
Notwithstanding the controversy surrounding racist abuse directed towards England players within the European Qualifiers, Bulgaria endured a torrid qualification run and only managed to win one among their eight games in A – a 1-0 conquer the Czech Republic back in November.
Nevertheless, Dermendzhiev’s side still have the prospect to qualify for next year’s tournament through the playoffs, where they need to overcome either Iceland or Romania should they defeat Hungary within the semi-finals of Path A.
Given their woeful run of form altogether competitions – with just one win to point out from their last 14 including friendlies – avoiding an instantaneous relegation backtrack to Group C would constitute a successful Nations League campaign for Bulgaria.
Dermendzhiev’s men last took to the dig in February for a friendly against Belarus, where they ultimately succumbed to a 1-0 defeat.
Meanwhile, Ireland are preparing for a replacement era under Stephen Kenny, who is gearing up for his first game responsible of the Boys in Green after replacing Mick McCarthy.
Ireland would have initially been relegated to League C for the 2020-21 Nations League, but with 16 teams now occupying the four groups rather than 12, Ireland’s spot united B is safe for now.
Under McCarthy, the Boys in Green did not win any of their four matches within the 2018-19 edition – drawing twice to Denmark and losing both matches with Wales.
Since then, Ireland managed to enjoy an honest run in their Euros qualification group – only losing one among their eight games – but as is that the case with Bulgaria, Kenny’s men are forced to accept a spot within the playoffs.
Ireland and Bulgaria last locked horns during a friendly back in September, and it had been the Boys in Green who took the spoils during a 3-1 victory, with Alan Browne, Kevin Long and James Collins on the scoresheet.
Bulgaria form (all competitions): LDLLWL
Ireland form (all competitions): DWDLWD
Bulgaria and Republic of Ireland Team News
Goalkeeper Plamen Iliev played altogether three of Bulgaria’s victories within the 2018-19 Nations League, but the Ludogorets shot-stopper has undergone surgery on an Achilles injury and isn’t within the squad.
Georgi Georgiev started inbetween the sticks against Belarus and can look to stay his place here, while Brazilian-born defender Cicinho has earned his first call-up to the Bulgarian national team.
As for Ireland, Troy Parrott – currently on loan at Millwall from Tottenham Hotspur – suffered a muscular injury during a friendly victory over Southend United and has been forced to withdraw.
Sean Maguire has been called up to the squad in Parrott’s place, and West Bromwich Albion defender Dara O’Shea has also made the jump to the senior side from the Under-21’s.
Kenny is sweating over the fitness of James McCarthy, who is battling a calf problem, but the midfielder is reportedly training well before Thursday’s clash.
Bulgaria possible probable lineup
Georgiev; Cicinho, Zanev, Dimitrov, Nedyalkov; K. Malinov, Kostadinov; Nedelev, Iliev, Ivanov; Isa
Republic of Ireland possible probable lineup
Randolph; Doherty, Egan, Duffy, Stevens; Hourihane, McCarthy; Robinson, Hendrick, McClean; Connolly
Bulgaria vs Republic of Ireland Prediction
Bulgaria 0-2 Ireland
Kenny are going to be determined to urge off to a flying start as he gears up for his inaugural match as Ireland manager, and therefore the Boys in Green are preparing for a clash with a Bulgaria side who have struggled for form in recent times, so we are backing Kenny’s men to urge the work wiped out convincing fashion on Thursday evening.
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