STAR PREVIEW: England v Bulgaria

England might have suffered some heartbreak in the Nations League but Gareth Southgate’s men are in a good place overall and should make it three from three in Euro 2020 qualifying against Bulgaria.

Bulgaria have changed their manager, with Petar Hubchev replaced by Krasimir Balakov after some disappointing results. However, they haven’t had the desired effect with defeats in the Czech Republic (2-1) and also at home to Kosovo (3-2) in their first two qualifiers.

There’s not a huge amount for Balakov to work with on the international stage, with none of the current Bulgarian crop plying their trade in any of Europe’s top five leagues and 14 of the 24-man squad residing in their domestic division. The only player with more than two international goals is Skipper Ivelin Popov, who will play as a false nine in a 4-5-1 formation, and their results mirror the strength of the team on paper – they look overmatched at the top level.

England will be frustrated at the basic mistakes which cost them a chance to reach the Nations League final but they are still a side that’s got more going for than against them and this is a drop in class, in all honesty.

England v Bulgaria
UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier
17:00 ITV1 HD & ITV Hub

(Maximum 10 matches, Since 2000)
SEP 2011 EURO 2012 QUALIFIYING Bulgaria 0-3 England
SEP 2010 EURO 2012 QUALIFIYING England 4-0 Bulgaria

The last time England faced Bulgaria – when qualifying for Euro 2012 – they were 4-0 winners at Wembley and 3-0 winners in Sofia, and since 2012 they have won 23 of 27 games at Wembley.

Raheem Sterling has already scored four times in qualifying and upfront Harry Kane has already gotten amongst the goals for Tottenham – with Marcus Rashford on the right having scored a couple for United already.

More pace is added in midfield by Mason Mount, who looks likely to replace Jesse Lingard in midfield after breaking into Chelsea’s first team, whilst England should have enough possession to protect Harry Maguire and Joe Gomez in defence too.

The only two sides to score at Wembley against England are Spain and World Cup finalists Croatia, so England appear to have their defence working at this sort of level, and they should be far too good for Bulgaria. England put five past the Czechs in their opening qualifier and a similar total here would be no surprise.

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