Bulgaria vs Sweden Prediction, Preview, Lineups, H2H & Betting Tips
Bulgaria is set for a home clash against one of its devastating football rivals when Sweden arrives in Sofia for a 2018 FIFA World Cup betting Group A qualifier on Thursday night. Sweden will chase a victory as the Blagult will surely keep their position on top of the group if they accomplish eighth consecutive win over Bulgaria. On the other hand, we have a qualifier that is also crucial for the Bulgarians who can maintain their World Cup hopes, only if they finally win against Sweden for the first time after 50 years.
H2H History: Bulgaria vs Sweden
First round between Sweden and Bulgaria took place last October when the Swedes won 3-0 at home turf. Ola Toivonen, Oscar Hiljemark and Victor Lindelöf were all scorers at the “Friends Arena” in Solna, although Bulgarians had their chances when the score still was leveled.
That victory was the seventh successive win of Sweden over Bulgaria and third in a row with the same score – 3:0. Moreover, Sweden have kept a clean sheet in all these games, including some memorable wins like a 5:0 win at the UEFA Euro 2004, preceded by a 4:0 victory at the 1994 FIFA World Cup third-place decider.
Last time when Bulgaria earned something against Sweden was on 8 September 1993 (1:1 in Sofia) when both sides were alongside France, Israel, Austria and Finland in the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Barcelona’s legend Hristo Stoichkov was the last Bulgarian player to score in Sweden’s net and like we said, that happened 24 years ago.
In the meantime, last win of Bulgaria against Sweden remains back in the 60’s – 3:0 on 12 November 1967.
2018 World Cup Qualification: Bulgaria vs Sweden 31.08.2017
Bulgaria will be looking to bounce back from a 2:1 loss to Belarus in June. The Lions occupy the fourth place in Group A and they are four points behind the top two spots. Thus far Petar Hubchev’s men are solid at home soil and it has to be noted that they recorded a win in each of their previous three 2018 World Cup qualifiers. This includes a 2:0 win over the Netherlands in March, which has been preceded by difficult victories over Luxembourg (4:3) and Belarus (1:0).
Sweden have won 13 points and have scored 12 goals in the six qualifiers so far (scored a goal in each of them). The Scandinavians are full of confidence ahead of Thursday’s World Cup qualifier and moreover, Janne Andersson’s men arrive in Bulgaria after an impressive 2:1 success over France earlier this year. This virtually opens a realistic possibility for the first Group A position, respectively one of the direct flights to Russia next summer.
Match Preview: Team News, Squads and Missing Players
Sweden sits on top of the group and the Blagult are keen to keep that position prior their next challenge, which is a visit to Belarus on Sunday evening. Janne Andersson will most likely stick to the 4-4-2 formation and despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s national team retirement, Swedish attacking potential looks dangerous enough. In fact Sweden boasts with Group A’s best defense (conceding only 4 goals) and the second most resultative attack (scoring 12 goals).
Oscar Hiljemark, Oscar Lewicki, John Guidetti and Isaac Kiese Thelin are the most noticeable absentees in current Swedish setup. Nevertheless, we can hardly describe someone of them as a key player and to be honest Janne Andersson has all players who have started against France available.
Bulgarian coach Petar Hubchev decided to leave some experienced players out of the squad – goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov, defenders Nikolay Bodurov, Yordan Minev, captain Svetoslav Dyakov, as well as attackers Aleksandar Tonev and Dimitar Rangelov. Goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov remains injured, right-back Zhivko Milanov retired from international football, while attacker Spas Delev (who scored both goals vs the Netherlands) still recovers from the injury he picked against Belarus.
Thus Petar Hubchev will have to choose a goalkeeper between Bozhidar Mitrev and Plamen Iliev, where the former looks a favourite to start. Another discussable position is in midfield where we mentioned that captain Svetoslav Dyakov has been left out of the group. Georgi Milanov, Ivaylo Chochev, Simeon Slavchev, Georgi Kostadinov, Stanislav Manolev, Kristiyan Malinov, Todor Nedelev, Ivelin Popov, are all among the potential starters in Hubchev’s 4-2-3-1 formation, where Genoa’s striker Andrey Galabinov looks favourite to start on top.
Bulgaria vs Sweden Prediction and Betting Tips
Bulgaria seems to be rocky at home but there is something more in that game and like we already mentioned, Sweden is one of Bulgaria’s worst nightmares. For some reason the Swedes are always playing extremely successful and effective against Bulgaria and Bulgarians have difficulties when they face Nordic sides.
Our betting prediction goes on the away side – Sweden to win. Their midfield, including few players showing good efforts at the beginning of the new season (Forsberg, Ekdal, Durmaz), should do the work and we won’t be surprised if Sweden finds a way to keep another clean sheet, as well as winning the game, which is the most important task of all.
Possible Lineups of Bulgaria and Sweden
Venue: “National Stadium Vasil Levski”, Sofia.
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento from Italy.
Bulgaria: Bozhidar Mitrev – Petar Zanev, Bozhidar Chorbadzhiyski, Vasil Bozhikov, Strahil Popov – Georgi Kostadinov, Ivaylo Chochev – Ivelin Popov, Georgi Milanov, Stanislav Manolev – Andrey Galabinov. (4-2-3-1)
Sweden: Robin Olsen – Mikael Lustig, Andreas Granqvist, Victor Lindelöf, Ludwig Augustinsson – Jimmy Durmaz, Albin Ekdal, Jakob Johansson, Emil Forsberg – Ola Toivonen, Marcus Berg. (4-4-2)