Bulgaria host Republic of Ireland at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia, as the two sides prepare to start on the right note in what promises to be an intriguing UEFA Nations League encounter in Group Four of League B.
Georgi Dermendzhiev's side will look to make home advantage count and secure a much-needed victory against the visitors, who are set to play their first game under manager Stephen Kenny.
The 48-year-old has had to wait for a while to make his managerial debut for the Republic of Ireland, having replaced Mick McCarthy earlier this year after the Boys in Green failed to secure automatic qualification for the European Championships.
Both teams will be eager to start their campaigns off on the right note, with the game being played behind closed doors once again due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Bulgaria vs Republic of Ireland Head-to-Head
The two teams have faced each other 12 times in competitive fixtures. Ireland have won four of those games, but Bulgaria could equal that tally with a victory on their home turf later this week.
The Boys in Green have recorded just one away victory in four previous attempts, while Bulgaria have only one win from their last 14 games in all competitions.
Bulgaria v Republic of Ireland Team News
Bulgaria will be without first-choice goalkeeper Plamen Iliev, as the 28-year-old suffered an Achilles injury and underwent surgery earlier this year. Aside from the Ludogorets shot-stopper, Dermendzhiev's side do not have any other major injury concerns.
The home team have struggled for goals in recent games and will hope for their attackers to get their shooting boots on for the visit of Stephen Kenny's side.
Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland, on the other hand, will be without Troy Parrott. The Tottenham Hotspur striker, who is set to spend the 2020-21 season on loan at Milwall, withdrew from the squad earlier this week due to a muscle problem.
Aaron Connolly is set to lead the line for the Boys in Green, with the Brighton striker keen to make an impression after enjoying a breakthrough season in the Premier League with the Seagulls.
Bulgaria v Republic of Ireland Predicted XI
Bulgaria Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Georgi Georgiev; Cicinho, Petar Zanev, Kristian Dimitrov, Anton Nedyalkov; Kristiyan Malinov, Georgi Kostadinov; Todor Nedelev, Dimitar Iliev, Stanislav Ivanov; Ismail Isa
Republic of Ireland (4-2-3-1): Darren Randolph; Matt Doherty, John Egan, Shane Duffy, Enda Stevens; Conor Hourihane, James McCarthy; Callum Robinson, Jeff Hendrick, James McClean; Aaron Connolly
Bulgaria v Republic of Ireland Prediction
Bulgaria do not have enough goals in their squad and could struggle to break down the away side's backline. The Republic of Ireland are raring to go under their new manager and should have enough in their locker to secure a victory despite playing away from home.
Prediction: Bulgaria 0-1 Republic of Ireland
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