Euro 2020 Qualifiers: Southgate’s men can bounce back in Bulgaria

Having lost to the Czech Republic on Friday night, England can take another step towards Euro 2020 qualification on Monday against lowly Bulgaria.

Matthew Crist

England suffered their first qualification defeat for a decade in Prague last week with manager Gareth Southgate saying he must take responsibility for the loss, but that will be quickly forgotten with a convincing win over Bulgaria in Sofia.

Their 2-1 loss courtesy of a late winner against the Czech Republic was England’s first loss in a Euro or World Cup qualifier since going down to Ukraine in 2009 – a run of 43 games without tasting the bitter disappointment of defeat.

Having taken the lead after just five minutes courtesy of a Harry Kane penalty, England failed to capitalise on a great start, eventually going down to strikes from Jakub Brabec and Zdenek Ondrasek in a game which – had they been victorious – they would have booked their place at next summer’s finals.

As a result, all eyes now turn to England’s game against Bulgaria on Monday night, a team they brushed aside easily when the two faced each other last month at Wembley and one they have enjoyed a fine record against in recent years.

The Three Lions are unbeaten against Bulgaria in 11 previous meetings having won seven and drawn four with the last three encounters going in England’s favour 4-0, 3-0 and 4-0 and Southgate’s men are 3.75* to score 3.5 goals this time around.


Bulgaria are still awaiting their first win in the Euro 2020 qualifiers and played-out a pretty unimpressive 0-0 draw against Montenegro in their last outing on Friday night and failure to secure all three points means Krasimir Balakov’s men are now without a win in their last 10 matches having drawn five and lost five.

Balakov is Bulgaria’s 11th head coach in the past 15 years whose job is made all the more difficult by the fact that nine of Bulgaria’s current crop ply their trade in Europe’s top five leagues with 15 of their squad playing their football in the Bulgarian leagues.

This my explain why the hosts are as big as 13.25* to win this one and make it a painful weekend for England who will be looking to put the memories of Prague out of their mind and get back to winning ways.

Although they have been pretty potent in front of goal, England’s problems of late appears to be their defensive frailties having conceded twice against the Czech Republic and three times against Kosovo in Southampton back in September.

So for that reason it might be worth looking at the goals market with eight of England’s last 10 games yielding three or more goals, while eight of Bulgaria’s last 11 home games have also seen three or more strikes in total, with 3.5 goals or more currently available at 2.60.*


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