Bulgaria will host Switzerland on Thursday in their first qualifier for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The sides have been grouped in a fairly tough group alongside Italy, Northern Ireland and Lithuania. With just one automatic qualifying spot on offer, both sides will go all out to begin their qualification campaign on a positive note.
The UEFA Group C qualifier will take place at the Vasil Levski National Stadium, with three points on offer for the winner.
Bulgaria vs Switzerland Head-to-Head
The two sides have met on 10 occasions in the past and Switzerland have a superior head-to-head record.
The Alpine nation have four wins and two draws to their name, while Bulgaria were victorious on two previous occasions.
Their most recent meeting came in September 2011 in Group G of the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifiers. A Xherdan Shaqiri hat-trick helped Switzerland to a 3-1 victory on home turf.
Bulgaria are without a win in their last seven competitive fixtures. They played out a goalless draw with Ireland in their most recent game in November.
Switzerland were awarded a 3-0 victory against Ukraine in their last fixture after the Eastern Europeans failed to turn up following a COVID-19 outbreak. Their earlier match had been a 1-1 draw with Spain.
Bulgaria form guide: D-L-W-L-L
Switzerland form guide: W-D-L-D-L
Bulgaria vs Switzerland Team News
Manager Yasen Petrov called up 26 players for the upcoming fixtures against Italy and Northern Ireland. The squad is headlined by captain Petar Zanev and other experienced players including Strahil Popov, Spas Deleve and vice-captain Georgi Kostandinov.
Uncapped players like Daniel Dimov, Ivan Karadzhov and Ilian Iliev were also handed call-ups.
Forward Atanas Iliev is currently injured and will play no part in the clash with Switzerland.
Injury: Atanas Iliev
Manager Vladimir Petkovic has named a strong squad of 23 players for qualifiers against Bulgaria and Lithuania, as well as a friendly against Finland.
The squad is headlined by elite players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xkaka, Yann Sommer and Manuel Akanji.
Bulgaria vs Switzerland Predicted XI
Bulgaria Predicted XI (4-4-2): Plamen Iliev (GK); Petar Zanev, Strahil Popov, Vasil Bozhikov, Cicinho; Georgi Kostandinov, Ivalyo Chochev, Kristiyan Malinov, Momchil Tsvetanov; Spas Delev, Andrey Galabinov
Switzerland Predicted XI (4-3-3): Yann Sommer (GK); Ricardo Rodriguez, Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi, Loris Benito; Denis Zakaria, Granit Xhaka, Remo Freuler; Xherdan Shaqiri, Hafis Seferovic, Breel Embolo
Bulgaria vs Switzerland Prediction
Switzerland have much better players and will look to impose their authority early by deploying a high line. The hosts, by contrast, will likely sit back and absorb the pressure with a counterattacking gameplan.
Despite this, Switzerland simply have too much firepower in their arsenal. The likes of Shaqiri and the in-form Seferovic could cause problems for Bulgaria. We are predicting a fairly comfortable victory for the visitors.
Prediction: Bulgaria 0-2 Switzerland