Bulgaria national football team
|Nickname(s)||Лъвовете (The Lions)|
|Association||Български футболен съюз|
|Head coach||Ivaylo Petev|
|Most caps||Stiliyan Petrov (106)|
|Top scorer||Dimitar Berbatov (48)|
|Home stadium||Vasil Levski National Stadium|
|FIFA ranking||62 5 (4 June 2015)|
|Highest FIFA ranking||8 (June 1995)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||96 (May 2012)|
|Elo ranking||59 (31 March 2015)|
|Highest Elo ranking||7  (August 1969)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||64  (October 1953, August 1954, 20 November 2014)|
| Austria 6–0 Bulgaria
(Vienna, Austria; 21 May 1924)
| Bulgaria 10–0 Ghana
(León, Mexico; 14 October 1968)
| Spain 13–0 Bulgaria
(Madrid, Spain; 21 May 1933)
|Appearances||7 (First in 1962)|
|Best result||Semi-Finals: 1994|
|Appearances||2 (First in 1996)|
|Best result||Quarter-Finals: 1968|
|Olympic medal record|
|1968 Mexico City||Team|
The Bulgaria national football team (Bulgarian: Национа̀лен отбо̀р по фу̀тбол на Бълга̀рия) is an association football team fielded by the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), a member association of UEFA.
The team's home ground is Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia. 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. The team has failed to qualify for any major tournament since UEFA Euro 2004.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Years of international wilderness
- 1.2 1960s and 1970s
- 1.3 World Cup 1986: The knockout rounds
- 1.4 World Cup 1994: Semifinal triumph
- 1.5 Euro 1996
- 1.6 World Cup 1998
- 1.7 Euro 2000
- 1.8 World Cup 2002
- 1.9 Euro 2004
- 1.10 World Cup 2006
- 1.11 Euro 2008
- 1.12 World Cup 2010
- 1.13 Euro 2012
- 1.14 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
- 2 Team image
- 3 Stadium
- 4 Competition history
- 5 Recent results and forthcoming fixtures
- 6 Players
- 7 Head coaches
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Bulgaria's first appearance in a World Cup was the 1962 World Cup in Chile after a time of international wilderness. However, 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 first time, in Chile, 1962.
1960s and 1970s
In the 1960s and 1970s, Bulgaria qualified for four straight World Cup tournaments, in 1962 (their first 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 an 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, when 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.
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 for 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 by 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.
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.
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
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.
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 Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermain Defoe and a goal from then Manchester City 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. Bulgaria lost their final game, a 1-0 home defeat by Wales, which left them bottom of the group, with only 3 goals scored, none of these coming at home.
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 1-2 victory over World Cup 2010 runner-ups Netherlands in Amsterdam. The qualifications started on 7 September 2012 with a well-earned 2-2 draw against the Euro 2012 runner-up 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. In that match Bulgaria started better and 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. As a result of these performances when Penev took over the team climbed from 96th in the FIFA Ranking, their lowest position ever, to 40th in November 2012. On 22 March 2013, Bulgaria hosted Malta in an empty Vasil Levski stadium due to allegations of racism directed towards Denmark's Patrick Mtiliga during the game in Sofia. Nevertheless, Penev's players defeated Malta 6-0 under a heavy snowfall, with Aleksandar Tonev scoring a hat-trick. Four days later, Bulgaria led Denmark 1-0 in Copenhagen after Manolev's third goal in the qualifications but the match eventually finished 1-1 after Daniel Agger equalised from the penalty spot. This result left Bulgaria second in the group with 10 points and still undefeated, having played one game more than Denmark and the Czech Republic and two more than Armenia. Bulgaria travelled to Italy for their next match on 6 September 2013, a game which they narrowly lost 1-0, after a decisive first-half goal by Alberto Gilardino. On 10 September 2013, the lions secured three more points with a 1-2 away win against Malta, leaving them hopeful of securing their second place in the group and a spot in the play-offs. However, after Bulgaria was defeated by the host Armenia with a score of 2-1 on 11 October 2013, the Bulgarian team practically lost their chances of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brasil. Although, they were still placed second in the group the performance taken into account for the play-offs would leave them as the worst performing second placed team among the ones in the same respective position at that time so they could not enter that final phase of the qualifications. A virtual chance of qualifying for the play-off phase depended on the outcome of the games in either Group D or Group E and the Bulgarian team needed a victory of at least three goals in their last game against the Czech Republic. Thus, on 15 October 2013 the Bulgarians came out with a very attacking strategy which left much room for error in defence, so despite the pressure over the Czechs they couldn't score and received a goal in the beginning of the second part finishing 0-1. The defeat that ended the participation in World Cup 2014 for the Bulgarian team costed them two positions in the final standing in the group finishing 4th.
Throughout the football nation's sartorial history, the outfield players wore equipments with the following colour patterns:
|Home kits||Away kits||Third kit|
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.
World Cup record
|1930||Did Not Enter|
|1934||Did Not Qualify|
|1950||Did Not Enter|
|1954||Did Not Qualify|
|1978||Did Not Qualify|
|1986||Round of 16||15th||4||0||2||2||2||6|
|1990||Did not qualify|
|2002||Did Not Qualify|
|2018||To Be Determined|
|2022||To Be Determined|
European Championship record
|UEFA European Championship record|
|1960||Did Not Qualify|
|2000||Did Not Qualify|
|2008||Did Not Qualify|
|2016||To Be Determined|
Since 1992 the olympic roster may consist out of under-23 year old players, plus three over the age players.
|Host Nation(s) - Year||Result||GP||W||D*||L||GS||GA|
|1896||no Olympic football tournament||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1900||Did not enter||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1904||Did not enter||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1908||Did not enter||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1912||Did not enter||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1920||Did not enter||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1928||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1932||no Olympic football tournament||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1936||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1948||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1964||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1972||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-|
Recent results and forthcoming fixtures
5 March 2014
|Bulgaria||2 – 1||Belarus||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Report||Krivets 86'||Stadium: Vasil Levski Stadium
Referee: Milenko Vukadinović (Serbia)
23 May 2014
|Bulgaria||1 – 1||Canada||Ritzing, Austria|
|18:30||Galabinov 19'||Report||Hutchinson 27' (pen.)||Stadium: Sonnensee-Stadion
Referee: Harald Lechner (Austria)
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
9 September 2014
|Azerbaijan||1 – 2||Bulgaria||Baku, Azerbaijan|
|Nazarov 54'||Report||Mitsanski 14'
|Stadium: Bakcell Arena
Referee: Alon Yefet (Israel)
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
10 October 2014
|Bulgaria||0 – 1||Croatia||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Report||Bodurov 36' (o.g.)||Stadium: Vasil Levski Stadium
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
13 October 2014
|Norway||2 – 1||Bulgaria||Oslo, Norway|
|Report||Bodurov 43'||Stadium: Ullevaal Stadion
Referee: Olegário Benquerença (Portugal)
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
16 November 2014
|Bulgaria||1 – 1||Malta||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Galabinov 6'||Report||Failla 49' (pen.)||Stadium: Vasil Levski Stadium
Referee: Martin Strömbergsson (Sweden)
7 February 2015
|Romania||0 – 0||Bulgaria||Antalya, Turkey|
|Report||Stadium: Atatürk Stadium
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland)
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
28 March 2015
|Bulgaria||2 – 2||Italy||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Report||Y.Minev 4' (o.g.)
|Stadium: Vasil Levski Stadium
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
8 June 2015
|Turkey||4 – 0||Bulgaria||Istanbul, Turkey|
|Çalhanoğlu 49', 54'
Yılmaz 56', 80'
|Report||Stadium: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Stadium
Referee: Davide Massa (Italy)
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
12 June 2015
|Malta||0 – 1||Bulgaria||Ta' Qali, Malta|
|Report||I. Popov 56'||Stadium: Ta' Qali National Stadium
Referee: Aleksandar Stavrev (Macedonia)
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
3 September 2015
|Report||Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
6 September 2015
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
10 October 2015
|Report||Stadium: Stadion Maksimir
|UEFA Euro 2016 Q
13 October 2015
|Report||Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
The following players have also been called up to the Bulgarian squad within the 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 a suspension.
- As of match played 11 October 2011. Players in bold are still currently playing for the national team.
- Bulgaria national under-23 football team
- Bulgaria national under-21 football team
- Bulgaria national under-19 football team
- Bulgaria national under-17 football team
- World Football Elo Ratings: Bulgaria
- "WORLD CUP '94; Bulgaria, a Small Foot in Soccer, Steps Closer to Glass Slipper - New York Times". Germany; Bulgaria: Nytimes.com. 11 July 1994. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "Bulgaria: Can Soccer Success Mean Business? - Baltimore Sun". Articles.baltimoresun.com. 31 July 1994. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "BBC SPORT | Football | Euro 2004 | Bulgaria | How they qualified: Bulgaria". BBC News. 21 May 2004. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "BBC SPORT | Football | Euro 2004 | Bulgaria 0-2 Denmark". BBC News. 18 June 2004. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "BBC SPORT | Football | Euro 2004 | Sweden 5-0 Bulgaria". BBC News. 14 June 2004. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "BBC SPORT | Football | Euro 2004 | Italy 2-1 Bulgaria". BBC News. 23 June 2004. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "BBC SPORT | Football | Euro 2004 | Bulgaria | Markov steps down". BBC News. 1 July 2004. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "Matthäus relieved of Bulgaria duties". UEFA.com (Union of European Football Associations). 19 September 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
- Krasimirov, Angel (16 October 2013). "Soccer-Bulgaria look for positives from another campaign failure | Reuters". Uk.reuters.com. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- Olympic tournaments
- Mamrud, Roberto. "Bulgaria - Record International Players". RSSSF. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- Official website
- Bulgarian football - history, teams, stadiums, fan clubs
- RSSSF archive of results 1924-
- 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
- Soccerway page
- UEFA Euro 1968 Quarter-Finals
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