Getting to know the opposition: Bulgaria
Published : 02 Sep 2010 09:26:33
With Fabio Capello's England taking on Bulgaria in their opening Euro 2012 qualifier tomorrow evening, Football.co.uk tells you everything you need to know about Wembley's latest visitors.
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Currently ranked 43rd in the world - two places below Scotland, two above Burkina Faso - Bulgaria will provide under pressure boss Capello with his first challenge on the long road towards Poland and Ukraine 2012.
Although they have failed to qualify for five of the last six major tournaments - including this summer's World Cup - manager Stanimir Stoilov can still call on a number of vastly experienced players.
Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov captains the side and has amassed 95 caps during his long international career. The Bulgarians also boast new Bolton Wanderers signing Martin Petrov, who has made an impressive 78 appearances.
Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov will be absent after retiring from international football last year, although former Manchester City attacker Valeri Bojinov will provide a threat up-front.
Despite not making it to South Africa, Bulgaria picked up a number of eye-catching results during their failed qualifying campaign, most notably draws against Italy and the Republic of Ireland.
The last time England met Bulgaria was in 1999 as part of the qualifying campaign for Euro 2000. Alan Shearer gave his country a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes, only for Markov to equalise three minutes later. The game finished 1-1.
Probable starting XI against England: Mihaylov; Manolev, Ivanov, Stotanov, Minev; Peev, Angelov, S Petrov, M Petrov; Bojinov, Kamburov