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Republic of Ireland vs Bulgaria prediction, preview, team news and more | UEFA Nations League 2020-21

Ireland welcome Bulgaria to Dublin, hoping to win their first match in nine games
Ireland welcome Bulgaria to Dublin, hoping to win their first match in nine games
Sachin Bhat
ANALYST
Modified 16 Nov 2020, 19:43 IST
Preview
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Beleaguered Republic of Ireland will be hoping to end a difficult year on a high when they host Bulgaria for their final group fixture of the UEFA Nations League at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday.

Having failed to win any of their five games in the competition, the Boys in Green also saw their dreams of playing at Euro 2021 dashed last month after losing in the playoffs to Slovakia on penalties, before getting thrashed by neighbors England in a recent friendly.

It's been a miserable year for Stephen Kenny's side, who can salvage some pride by avoiding a defeat to the Lions, which will then prevent them from dropping into tier-three of the Nations League.

Ireland are on two points while their eastern European rivals are at the bottom of the group with just one point. A draw will be enough to remain in the second tier, though the Irish outfit will be keen to end their winless run of eight games with a decisive victory.


Republic of Ireland vs Bulgaria Head-To-Head

These sides have met 11 times before, with honors even at three wins each, and the remaining five games all ending in stalemates, including September's 1-1 draw in Sofia.

Ireland, however, did beat Bulgaria on home soil last year, claiming a 3-1 friendly victory in Dublin in September 2019.

Republic of Ireland Form Guide (all competitions): D-D-L-L-L

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Bulgaria Form Guide (all competitions): L-L-L-W-L


Republic of Ireland vs Bulgaria Team News

John Egan is the latest Ireland player to succumb to injury. The Sheffield United man sustained a knock to the head in last week's defeat to Wales and joined captain Seamus Coleman, Enda Stevens, James McCarthy, and Harry Arter in the treatment room.

Alan Browne and Callum Robinson are self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, while midfielder Jeff Hendrick was sent off in the last match and will be suspended for Wednesday's clash.

Injured: Seamus Coleman, Enda Stevens, James McCarthy, Harry Arter, and John Egan.

Suspended: Jeff Hendrick

Unavailable: Alan Browne and Callum Robinson

Bulgaria were hit with a new COVID-19 infection after the last match as midfielder Martin Raynov was the latest to be tested positive after Nikolay Mihaylov, Anton Nedyalkov, and Georgi Terziev all contracted the virus at the start of the international break.

Georgi Dermendzhiev's side will also be without the injured trio of Georgi Kostadinov, Todor Nedelev, and Kiril Despodov.

Injured: Georgi Kostadinov, Todor Nedelev, and Kiril Despodov

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Suspended: None

Unavailable: Martin Raynov, Nikolay Mihaylov, Anton Nedyalkov, and Georgi Terziev


Republic of Ireland vs Bulgaria Predicted XI

Republic of Ireland (4-3-3): Darren Randolph; Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, Dara O'Shea; Conor Hourihane, Robbie Brady, Jack Bryne; Jason Knight, James Collins, James McClean.

Bulgaria (4-2-3-1): Martin Lukov; Strahil Popov, Kristian Dimitrov, Vasil Bozhikov, Dimitar Velkovski; Kristiyan Malinov, Yanis Karabelyov; Spas Delev, Dominik Yankov, Galin Ivanov; Bozhidar Kraev.


Republic of Ireland vs Bulgaria Prediction

Ireland might be on a low ebb right now, but then so is Bulgaria, who've lost six of the last eight games and haven't won a competitive match away from home since July 2015.

It might make for another dour encounter, as most of their respective games have been recently, but the Boys in Green should nick this one narrowly.

Prediction: Republic of Ireland 2-0 Bulgaria

Published 16 Nov 2020, 19:43 IST
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