Bulgaria national football team
|Nickname(s)||Лъвовете (The Lions)
|Association||Bulgarian Football Union|
|Head coach||Lyuboslav Penev|
|Most caps||Stiliyan Petrov (106)|
|Top scorer||Dimitar Berbatov (48)|
|Home stadium||Vasil Levski|
|Highest FIFA ranking||8 (June 1995)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||96 (April 2012)|
|Highest Elo ranking||3 (August 1975)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||58 (August 1955)|
| Austria 6–0 Bulgaria
(Vienna, Austria; 21 May 1924)
| Bulgaria 10–0 Ghana
(Leon, Mexico; 14 October 1968)
| Spain 13–0 Bulgaria
(Madrid, Spain; 21 May 1933)
|Appearances||7 (First in 1962)|
|Best result||4th, 1994|
|Appearances||14 (First in 1960)|
|Best result||Quarter-Finals;1968 & Group Stage; 1996 & 2004|
|Olympic medal record|
|Silver||1968 Mexico City||Team|
The Bulgaria national football team (Bulgarian: Национа̀лен отбо̀р по фу̀тбол на Бъ̀лгария) is an association football team fielded by the Bulgarian Football Union, a member association[clarification needed] of UEFA. The team's home ground is Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia and Lyuboslav Penev is the current manager. Their best World Cup performance was in the 1994 World Cup in the United States, where they beat defending champions Germany to reach the semi-finals, losing to Italy and eventually finishing in the fourth position. Although defeating strong top ranked teams in international friendlies throughout the years, the team's strength has diminished slowly, failing to qualify for any major tournament since UEFA Euro 2004.
Bulgaria's first appearance in a World Cup was the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay, but failed to enter because delay of flights, during typhoon and hurricane storms on the Atlantic. Bulgaria later on entered the 1962 World Cup after a time of international wilderness. Sadly, they did not progress to the knockout stages. The same happened in England in 1966, Mexico in 1970, and West Germany in 1974. They progressed from the first round in Mexico 1986, but were beaten by the hosts in the Round of 16.
Years of International Wilderness 
The Bulgarian side, at this time, could not progress in qualifying to any major tournaments from the time of 1930 to 1960. This period of time was the international wilderness for Bulgaria. They would end up getting 2nd or 3rd in their qualifying group, not able to qualify. Bulgaria although, did defeat many great teams in international friendlies during those years. The only tournaments they seemed to qualify for were smaller tournaments, such as the Balkan Cup, which they have won four times. Finally, their time came, when they qualified for the World Cup for the second time, in Chile, 1962.
1960s and 1970s 
In the 1960s and 1970s, Bulgaria qualified for four straight World Cup tournaments, in 1962 (their second time), 1966, 1970, and 1974, but without any successful performances. They also won the Balkan Cup in 1976 by beating Romania in the two legged final 1–0, 3–2. In the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, they won a silver medal with a tournament finale loss. They finished first in Group D by beating Thailand 7–0, Guatemala 2–1, and a 2–2 draw against Czechoslovakia. They passed the quarter-finals by beating Israel and the semi-finals by beating Olympic hosts Mexico. In the final, they ware defeated by Hungary 1-4, giving the Bulgarians the silver Olympic medals.
World Cup 1986: The Knockout Rounds 
Bulgaria qualified for the World Cup in Mexico by finishing second in Group Four, behind France with 11 points, but worse goal difference, ahead of the teams of Yugoslavia, East Germany, and Luxembourg. This was their fifth World Cup appearance. They were drawn in Group A with Italy, Argentina, and South Korea. In the opening match of the World Cup, the Bulgarians held the defending champions Italy to a 1–1 draw. Alessandro Altobelli gave the Italians the lead, but a 85th minute equalizer by Nasko Sirakov gave the Bulgarians the point. The next match was another 1–1 draw against South Korea with the goal for Bulgaria coming from Plamen Getov in the 11th minute. They lost the final match of the group 2–0 against Argentina, who ended up winning the tournament. Despite not recording a win, the Bulgarians advanced to the knockout stage by being the third-best third placed team. That way, Bulgaria and also Uruguay became the first nations to qualify for the knockout stage without winning a game in the first round. In the Round of 16, they faced World Cup hosts Mexico and lost the match 2–0. Ivan Vutsov was the manager of the team.
World Cup 1994: Semifinal Triumph 
Certainly one of the most important dates in Bulgarian football history is 17 November 1993, a date where Emil Kostadinov scored two goals to beat France in Paris, allowing Bulgaria to qualify for the World Cup in the United States in 1994. Under the management of Dimitar Penev, the Bulgarians, led by players such as Hristo Stoichkov, Yordan Lechkov, and Krasimir Balakov — along with a multitude of other talented players remembered in Bulgaria as the "Golden Generation" — made a strong impression by reaching the semi-finals. They entered Group D with Argentina, Nigeria, and Greece. Before that, the Bulgarians hadn't won a single match in five World Cup finals appearances. The first match ended with a 3–0 defeat by Nigeria. Despite the bad start, the team won 4–0 against World Cup-debuting featherweights Greece and 2–0 against Argentina. Argentina had actually been winning the group going into injury-time. A 91st minute strike from Nasko Sirakov, however, meant that they dropped two places and finished third. Bulgaria continued to the next round, where they faced Mexico. The match ended 1–1 and after no goals were scored in extra time, penalties would decide which team would go through. Team captain Borislav Mihaylov made a good performance saving the first three penalty kicks. Bulgaria won 3–1 on penalties with Mihaylov becoming the hero for the Bulgarian team. In the quarter-finals, Bulgaria faced the then-defending World Cup champions Germany. Lothar Matthäus scored from a penalty. The Bulgarians, however, managed to turn the game over with two goals by Hristo Stoichkov and Yordan Lechkov, giving them a 2–1 win and recording one of the most memorable wins for the team. Millions of Bulgarians celebrated this win in the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia and other Bulgarian cities. Having reached the semi-finals, this was the best Bulgarian performance in the World Cup. In the semi-finals, they lost 2–1 to Italy. The third-place match was lost to Sweden, 4-0, and Bulgaria eventually finished in fourth place. Hristo Stoichkov was awarded the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the tournament with six goals (shared with Oleg Salenko). Krasimir Balakov was named in the all-star team along with Stoichkov. Starting 11: GK-Mihaylov(c); RB-Kiryakov/Kremenliev, CB/SW-Hubchev, CB-Ivanov, LB-Tsvetanov; DM-Yankov, CM-Lechkov, CM-Balakov, AM/CF-Sirakov/Borimirov; CF/RW-Kostadinov, CF/LW-Stoichkov.
Euro 1996 
In 1996, the team qualified for the European Football Championship for the first time, after some good results in the qualifying group, including a stunning 3–2 turnaround win against future Euro 1996 champions Germany. They were drawn in Group B with France, Spain, and Romania. Bulgaria started with a 1–1 draw against Spain, followed by a 1–0 win against Romania. In the final group match, they lost 3–1 against France. At the same time, Spain defeated Romania 2–1 with the winner coming in the 84th minute, and the Bulgarians subsequently failed to qualify to the quarter-finals.
World Cup 1998 
Bulgaria qualified for the World Cup in France by finishing first in the Group 5, followed by Russia. They entered the competition with a new manager Hristo Bonev, since Dimitar Penev was sacked after Euro 1996. Bulgaria drew Spain, Nigeria, and Paraguay in Group D. The first match ended in a 0–0 goalless draw against Paraguay. In the second match, the Bulgarians lost 1–0 for a second-straight World Cup to Nigeria. The final match ended with a disappointing 6–1 defeat to Spain. Following the bad results, Bulgaria finished fourth in the group, with only one point, and didn't go through the next round. This was the last major appearance at World Cup level for Bulgaria.
Euro 2000 
Bulgaria was drawn in a tough qualifying group with teams like England, Sweden, and Poland. The campaign started bad with two defeats by Poland and Sweden. The most memorable match for Bulgaria in the group was the 1–1 draw against England, which was also the last one for Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov before his international retirement. Bulgaria finished fourth with eight points and failed to make the final stages of Euro 2000.
World Cup 2002 
Bulgaria, Denmark, and Czech Republic amongst the main contenders for the qualifying spots. Bulgaria won the matches against the weaker teams, but lost 2–0 to Denmark and both matches with Czech Republic, including a disappointing 6–0 defeat. That way, Bulgaria finished third with 17 points and three points behind second-placed Czech Republic, thus failing to make the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
Euro 2004 
Bulgaria managed to qualify for the Euro 2004 in Portugal by finishing first in the group ahead of teams like Croatia and Belgium with 17 points and just one defeat. They drew Sweden, Italy, and Denmark in Group C. They started very disappointing with an embarrassing 5–0 defeat by Sweden, followed by a 2–0 defeat by Denmark. The last match against Italy was a reasonable 2–1 defeat. The match was looking to end 1–1 after goals from Bulgarian winger Martin Petrov and Simone Perrotta, but a last minute goal by Antonio Cassano gave the Italians the win. They finished fourth with zero points and were sent home without reaching the knockout round. After the disappointing performance, the manager Plamen Markov was sacked.
World Cup 2006 
Euro 2008 
Group G had Netherlands, Romania, and Bulgaria as the main contestants for a qualifying spot for the Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria. Bulgaria performed well after a run of good results from Romania that gave them the first place. The Bulgarians finished third with 25 points, after Romania and Netherlands, with only one lost match against the Dutch.
World Cup 2010 
Bulgaria were drawn against Italy and Ireland in qualifying Group Eight. Bulgaria started the campaign with a series of draws in the 2010 qualifiers. After the unconvincing start, the manager Plamen Markov was sacked and replaced by Stanimir Stoilov in January 2009. The Bulgarians then recorded their first win in the group against Cyprus, and also won against Montenegro and Georgia. They finished in third place in the group with 14 points, therefore failing to qualify directly or for a play-off place.
Euro 2012 
In their first qualifying game on 3 September 2010, Bulgaria were crushed 4-0 away to England at The Wembley Stadium thanks to a hat-trick from Spurs Striker Jermain Defoe and a goal from Sunderland A.F.C winger Adam Johnson.
Their misfortune continued in their second match when they lost to Montenegro in Sofia, one of the best results of the newly established guest team so far. For the first time in 5 years Bulgaria lost a home match in Sofia. After the loss Stanimir Stoilov resigned from the position of manager. Before the start of the qualifications Bulgaria recorded 3 losses and 1 draw in 4 friendly matches with only two goals scored. The last victory for Bulgaria was against Malta played in Ta' Qali on 18 November 2009. The final score was 4-1.
On 21 September 2010 Lothar Matthäus was announced as the new head coach of Bulgaria. On his official debut Bulgaria finally managed to win a match in 2010. In Cardiff at Cardiff City Stadium the Bulgarians won the game 1-0. The goal was scored by Ivelin Popov in the 48th minute. These were the first gained points in the UEFA Euro 2012 qualification campaign. In the following two games Bulgaria drew against Switzerland (0:0 at home) and Montenegro (1:1 away). Bulgaria lost all theoretical chances of qualifying for the tournament on 2 September 2011, after losing 0-3 in Sofia against England, which was followed 4 days later by a 1-3 defeat in Switzerland. Consequently Matthäus was relieved of his duties as national coach and replaced on a temporary basis by Mihail Madanski.
2014 FIFA World Cup qualification 
In the qualification phase for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Bulgaria were placed in Group B together with the teams of Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Armenia and Malta. Under the guidance of former player Lyuboslav Penev as head coach, Bulgaria enjoyed a revival and put in credible performance in friendly matches before the start of the qualifications, most notably a 2-1 victory over World Cup runner-ups Netherlands in Amsterdam. The qualifications started on 7 September 2012 with a well-earned 2-2 draw against Italy on home soil, Stanislav Manolev and young talent Georgi Milanov with the goals. Bulgaria then edged a tight match against Armenia in Sofia, in which one Bulgarian and two Armenian players were sent off, thanks to a single goal from Manolev. Another home game followed on 12 October 2012, against Denmark, which finished in a 1-1 draw. Bulgaria started better, scored in the 7th minute through Dimitar Rangelov but had defender Ivan Bandalovski sent off in the 27th minute and had to settle for a draw. Another good performance followed four days later, Bulgaria earning a hard-fought 0-0 draw away to the Czech Republic. Bulgaria currently stand second in Group B with nine points from five matches and still undefeated. As a result of these performances the team climbed from 96th in the FIFA Ranking when Penev took over, their lowest position ever, to 40th in November 2012. Bulgaria hosted Malta at an empty Vasil Levski stadium due to racism allegations targeted towards Denmark's Patrick Mtiliga. Nevertheless, Lyuboslav Penev's boys defeated Malta under heavy snow 6-0, with Aleksandar Tonev scoring a hat-trick.
Normally, the Bulgarian national football team's home stadium is the Vasil Levski National Stadium with a capacity of 43,632. Vasil Levski was officially opened in 1953 and reconstructed in 1966 and 2002. It is currently eligible to host UEFA Europa League final matches. During the 2006–07 UEFA Champions League, the stadium was used for the games of Levski Sofia with Barcelona, Chelsea, and Werder Bremen. The Bulgarian national football team's home matches and the Bulgarian Cup finals are held at the venue, as well as athletics competitions.
The stadium also offers judo, artistic gymnastics, basketball, boxing, aerobics, fencing and table tennis halls, as well as a general physical training hall, two conference halls, and three restaurants.
The new national stadium will be called "Arena of the Rose" and will be constructed near the International Airport where Vrazhdebna is located. It will have 60,000 seats and seen from above it will look like a rose.
Competition history 
World Cup record 
|1930||Did not enter||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1934||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1938||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1950||Did not enter||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1954||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1958||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1978||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1982||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1986||Round of 16||12||4||0||2||2||2||6|
|1990||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2002||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2006||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2010||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
European Championship record 
|UEFA European Championship record|
|1960||Did Not Qualify|
|2000||Did Not Qualify|
|2008||Did Not Qualify|
|2016||To Be Determined|
Recent results and forthcoming fixtures 
|29 February 2012||Hungary||1 – 1||Bulgaria||Győr, Hungary|
|17:00 GMT||Szalai 42'||Report||Bojinov 87'||Stadium: ETO Park
Referee: Jonas Eriksson
|26 May 2012||Netherlands||1 – 2||Bulgaria||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|19:00 BST||van Persie 45'||Report||Popov 49' (pen.)
|Stadium: Amsterdam ArenA
Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes
|29 May 2012||Bulgaria||0 – 2||Turkey||Salzburg, Austria|
|Stadium: Red Bull Arena
Referee: Gerhard Grobelnik
|15 August 2012||Bulgaria||1 – 0||Cyprus||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|19:00 BST||Mitsanski 66'||Report||Stadium: Georgi Asparuhov Stadium
|7 September 2012||Bulgaria||2 – 2||Italy||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|20:00 UTC+2||Manolev 30'
G. Milanov 66'
|Report||Osvaldo 36', 40'||Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Referee: Martin Atkinson
|11 September 2012||Bulgaria||1 – 0||Armenia||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|21:00 UTC+3||Manolev 43'||Report||Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Referee: Stephan Studer
|12 October 2012||Bulgaria||1 – 1||Denmark||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|21:00 UTC+3||Rangelov 7'||Report||Bendtner 40'||Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Referee: Tony Chapron
|16 October 2012||Czech Republic||0 – 0||Bulgaria||Prague, Czech Republic|
|20:00 UTC+2||Report||Stadium: Generali Arena
Referee: Vladislav Bezborodov
|14 November 2012||Bulgaria||0 – 1||Ukraine||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|18:00||Report||Kucher 34'||Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Referee: Milorad Mažić
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 22 March 2013||Bulgaria||6 – 0||Malta||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|16:00 GMT||Tonev 6', 38', 68'
|Report||Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Referee: Eitan Shmuelevich (Israel)
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q
26 March 2013
|Denmark||1 − 1||Bulgaria||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|19:15 GMT||Agger 63' (pen.)||Report||Manolev 51'||Stadium: Parken Stadium
Referee: Fırat Aydınus (Turkey)
30 May 2013
|Stadium: Toyota Stadium
5 June 2013
|Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
14 August 2013
|Stadium: Philip II Arena
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 6 September 2013||Italy||v||Bulgaria||Italia|
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 10 September 2013||Malta||v||Bulgaria||Ta' Qali, Malta|
|Stadium: Ta' Qali National Stadium
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 11 October 2013||Armenia||v||Bulgaria||Armenia|
|2014 FIFA World Cup Q 15 October 2013||Bulgaria||v||Czech Republic||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Stadium: Vasil Levski Stadium
2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group B 
Current squad 
Caps and goals updated as of 26 March 2013, subsequent to the game against Denmark.
Recent callups 
The following players have also been called up to the Bulgarian squad within last 12 months and are still available for selection.
INJ Player withdrew from the squad due to an injury.
SUS Player withdrew from the squad due to an suspension.
Previous squads 
Most appearances and top scorers 
- As of match played 11 October 2011. Players in bold are still currently playing for the national team.
Head coaches 
See also 
- "Matthäus relieved of Bulgaria duties". UEFA.com (Union of European Football Associations). 19 September 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- Official website
- Bulgarian football - history, teams, stadiums, fan clubs
- RSSSF archive of results 1924-
- RSSSF archive of most capped players and highest goalscorers
- Bulgarian football legends
- Planet World Cup archive of results in the World Cup
- Planet World Cup archive of squads in the World Cup
- Planet World Cup archive of results in the World Cup qualifiers
- UEFA Euro 1968 Quarter-Finals
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