England host Bulgaria in their European Champions Qualification match in Group A on Saturday, kicking off at 5:00pm at Wembley. It looks to be a foregone conclusion, with England cruising to wins in their first two games, whilst Bulgaria haven’t won any of their four fixtures.
Home Team: England
England are shaping up to be a team that is challenging for the major titles in international football. Perhaps ahead of schedule, England exceeded expectations in the World Cup by reaching the semi-finals, before narrowly losing out to Croatia. One year on, they surpassed Croatia and Spain to qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals, where another semi-final defeat ended their journey, but they did make progress by obtaining 3rd place. Now, with the European Championships being partly hosted in England next summer, the incentive is there for England to qualify for their first final – held in Wembley – since 1966. England have already one foot in the European Championships next summer, as they top the group having played less games than the other four teams in the group.
An emphatic 5-0 victory over Czech Republic was followed by a 5-1 win in Montenegro. England now have two back-to-back home matches, and will look to seal their progress within this international break. Gareth Southgate has decided to give Aaron Wan-Bisakka and Tyrone Mings a call-up, as well as Mason Mount and James Maddison. Kyle Walker is the most notable absentee, but that’s only due to him wanting to give others the opportunity. Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Harry Kane will most likely feature in the starting line-up.[geot exclude_country="US" ][/geot]
Away Team: Bulgaria
The glory years of Bulgaria have sadly passed for the nation, with them rooted joint-bottom of the group alongside Montenegro. Bulgaria’s hopes of qualifying for their first European Championships since 2004 look increasingly bleak, despite a 3rd place position potentially having a play-off – even that looks a tall order. They drew with Montenegro on match day one at home in a 1-1 score line, giving them an uphill task from there.
They repeated that score line against Kosovo away in their 2nd match, but this past June, they lost to Czech Republic away 2-1 and then disappointingly at home to Kosovo 3-2 – a nation with a population of just 1.8 million. Losing to Kosovo is bad enough, but having just five shots in the game compared to Kosovo’s 18, clearly shows their struggles. Can they regain some pride by putting on a decent performance at Wembley?
Head to Head
England and Bulgaria have met each other 10 times in their history, with England winning on six occasions. Bulgaria have achieved four draws in these matches, but have yet to win. The first ever meeting between the two was at the 1962 World Cup, where it finished 0-0 in the group stage. Since then, they have played six competitive matches in the European Championship qualifications, in 1979/80, 1998/99 and 2010/11. Bulgaria drew home and away in 1998/99, but lost in all the other occasions. In their last match at Wembley in 2010, England won 4-0, with Jermaine Defoe scoring a hat-trick, and Adam Johnson getting the other.
My Predictions and Betting Tips
England are overwhelming favourites to win here at 1/12, with Bulgaria priced at 28/1 to win, or 17/2 just to get a draw. There is no doubt that England will win this match, and you could even bet your mortgage on it. To win big though, you’ll have to guess the correct score line, and I’d back it to be 5-0 at 10/1.
You’ll be rewarded by betting on England to win big, or to win narrowly. For example, any 1-goal margin victory is priced at 7/2, and any win with a handicap of -4 goals, is at 4/1. For goal scorers, you’d back Jadon Sancho (11/8), Harry Kane (8/11) or Raheem Sterling (10/11) to score at any time. However, for the tipsters, I’d recommend backing James Maddison to come off the bench and score his first goal for his country, with him backed at 6/1 to score at any time.
Finally, if you want to back all of those scorers (the first three mentioned) to score in a triple bet, you can back that at 14/1.[geot exclude_country="US" ][/geot] [geot country="US,CA" ]
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