Bulgaria national football team

The Bulgaria national football team (Bulgarian: Български национален отбор по футбол, romanizedBalgarski natsionalen otbor po futbol) represents Bulgaria in men's international football and is administered by the Bulgarian Football Union, a member association of UEFA. The team's home venue is the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, and is currently managed by Yasen Petrov.

Bulgaria
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)Лъвовете / Lavovete
(The Lions)
AssociationBulgarian Football Union (BFU)
ConfederationUEFA (Europe)
Head coachYasen Petrov
CaptainGeorgi Kostadinov
Most capsStiliyan Petrov (105)
Top scorerDimitar Berbatov
Hristo Bonev (48)
Home stadiumVasil Levski National Stadium
FIFA codeBUL
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 70 Increase 5 (16 September 2021)[1]
Highest8 (June 1995)
Lowest96 (May 2012)
First international
 Austria 6–0 Bulgaria 
(Vienna, Austria; 21 May 1924)
Biggest win
 Bulgaria 10–0 Ghana 
(Leon, Mexico; 2 October 1968)
Biggest defeat
 Spain 13–0 Bulgaria 
(Madrid, Spain; 21 May 1933)
World Cup
Appearances7 (first in 1962)
Best resultFourth place (1994)
European Championship
Appearances2 (first in 1996)
Best resultGroup stage (1996, 2004)
Olympic Games
Appearances5 (first in 1924)
Best resultRunners-up (1968)

Bulgaria's best achievements are reaching the final at the 1968 Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 1994. They have also competed at the Balkan Cup, winning three titles. However, Bulgaria has failed to qualify for any major tournament since UEFA Euro 2004.

HistoryEdit

Early historyEdit

The Bulgarian national football team was formed in 1922. In 1923, the Bulgarian Football Union was formed and the team's first match was held in Vienna on 21 May 1924, which resulted in a 6–0 defeat against Austria.[3] Bulgaria also participated in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris a few days later.

Years of international wildernessEdit

After being unable to compete in the 1930 World Cup, the Bulgarian side did not qualify for any major tournament for nearly 30 years, narrowly falling short of qualification on numerous occasions. The national team had gone on a streak of finishing 2nd or 3rd in their qualifying groups along with proceeding to the play-offs, but in the end, failing to qualify. Despite their qualifying problems, the national team did manage to defeat many elite teams during memorable international friendlies during those years. It also seemed as if the only tournaments they managed to qualify for were smaller tournaments, such as the Balkan Cup, which they won four times.

1960s and 1970s: Rising to prominenceEdit

 
Bulgaria vs. Sweden 0 – 0, 1974 FIFA World Cup

Bulgaria qualified for the World Cup for the first time in its history in 1962 and followed that up with consecutive appearances in 1966, 1970 and 1974. The team, however, did not have much success and finished in third place in their group two out of the four times.

Bulgaria took part in qualifiers for the European Championship in 1968 and went on to win their group with impressive wins over Norway, Sweden, and Portugal. Although they would go on to lose to the eventual champions and hosts Italy in a two-legged qualifying play-off.

At the 1968 Summer Olympics, the team won the silver medal. They finished first in Group D by defeating Thailand 7–0, Guatemala 2–1, and drawing 2–2 against Czechoslovakia. They advanced to the quarter-finals by defeating Israel and then the semi-finals by defeating favored hosts Mexico. In the Olympic Final, the team was defeated by Hungary, in what many would say was a hard-fought match for both sides.

Despite winning the Balkan Cup twice in 1931 and 1932, the Bulgaria national team added two more trophies to their case as they went on to win the tournament in 1973 and 1976. In both 1973 and 1976, Bulgaria had used their previous World Cup experience to create a very tactical team. This paid off quite well, as they had many decisive victories over Hungary, Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Poland, Albania and Romania. In fact, the team won the 1976 Balkan Cup by beating Romania in the two-legged final 1–0 and 3–2.

1962 World CupEdit

Bulgaria finally qualified for their second world cup. Bulgaria was drawn in a tough group with elite opponents in England, powerhouse Argentina and Hungary. Bulgaria opened up their campaign with a narrow 0–1 loss to Argentina. Later on, Bulgaria would lose their second group match by a 6–1 score to Hungary. Bulgaria's hopes of qualifying were over, but the national team impressively drew with future 1966 World Cup champions England 0-0 and finished fourth in the group with only one point.

1966 World CupEdit

Bulgaria qualified for their second straight World Cup, drawn into an even tougher group compared to the previous World Cup. They were placed in the group of death with superpowers Hungary, Portugal and Brazil, with Pelé at the helm. Bulgaria opened their campaign match with a 0–2 loss to Brazil thanks to two free kick goals by Pelé and Garrincha. In their second match Bulgaria loss 0-3 to Eusebio's Portugal. Finally, Bulgaria with no chance of advancing to the next round, finished their last match with a 1–3 loss to Hungary. Bulgaria once again finished fourth with zero points in the group.

Euro 1968 qualificationEdit

After their poor World Cup performance, Bulgaria was determined to redeem themselves. Bulgaria was drawn in a very tough group for qualifying, with Norway and Sweden, along with Eusebio's Portugal. Bulgaria started off with a 4–2 win over Norway. They would add to their winning streak with a 2–0 victory against Sweden. In their next two matches Bulgaria would draw 0–0 against Norway, and dominate Sweden 3–0. In their final two group fixtures Bulgaria played Portugal to a 1–0 victory at home and an 0–0 draw on the road, but it was enough to advance to the two-legged qualifying play-off. There Bulgaria were drawn against eventual Euro 1968 host Italy. Italy were defeated in the first leg 3–2, but won the second by a 0–2 score to advance 4–3 on aggregate. Italy would win the playoff and go on to win the tournament, while Bulgaria was eliminated from reaching the finals.

1968 Summer Olympics: Road to the finalEdit

A month and a half after the European Championship qualifying came the Olympics, which Bulgaria had qualified for the fifth time in their history. They were drawn in a simple group with Thailand, Guatemala and Czechoslovakia. Bulgaria started off with a 7–0 thrashing of Thailand. They later went on and drew with Czechoslovakia 2–2 to increase their point standards. Their final match once again determined if they would carry on to the quarter-finals. Needing a decisive win, Bulgaria went on to defeat Guatemala 2–1 and win their Olympic group. They qualified directly to the quarter-finals facing underdogs, Israel. The game remained 1–1 for most of the match until a drawing of lots determined who would go on to the semi-finals of the tournament. Winning the draw Bulgaria advanced to the semi-finals against Mexico. After a very hard-fought match, Bulgaria proved stronger as they came out on top with a 3–2 victory. Bulgaria advanced to the finals for the first time in their Olympic history. They were determined to win the gold medal, but fell short with a 1–4 loss to Hungary. Although battling hard, Bulgaria came out with the silver medal.

1970 World CupEdit

Bulgaria qualified for their third straight World Cup, held in Mexico, just like the 1968 Olympics. They were drawn in a very tricky group with Germany, Peru and Morocco. Bulgaria played their first match against Peru, losing 3–2. Germany won Bulgaria's second match, 5–2. The last group stage match ended 1–1; Bulgaria ended up in 3rd place.

1974 World CupEdit

The 1974 World Cup was held in West Germany. They were drawn in a decently tough group, with the Netherlands, Sweden and Uruguay. Bulgaria started off with a goalless draw with Sweden. They drew again, this time 1–1 with Uruguay. As the final match came, Bulgaria fell by a 4–1 score. Bulgaria remained in third place in the group stages.

1986 World Cup: The knockout roundsEdit

Bulgaria qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico by finishing second in Group Four, behind France with 11 points, but ahead of powerful rivals Yugoslavia and Germany. 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 an impressive 1–1 draw. Alessandro Altobelli gave the Italians the lead, but an 85th-minute equalizer by Nasko Sirakov gave the Bulgarians the point they needed. 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 eventually won the tournament. Despite not recording a win, the Bulgarians advanced to the knockout stage by being the third-best third-placed team. By doing so, Bulgaria along with 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, who were looking for revenge due to their previous home Olympic semi-final loss to Bulgaria in Mexico City in 1968. The match was hard-fought from both sides of the scale but ultimately, Mexico came away with the 2–0 win.

Stoichkov's reign of the Golden GenerationEdit

 
Hristo Stoichkov won the Ballon D'Or, World and European Golden Boots in 1994. His incredible style of play led Bulgaria to the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup, along with leading Barcelona to their first ever UEFA Champions League in 1992.

1994 World Cup: Final four triumphEdit

Certainly one of the most important dates in Bulgarian football history is 17 November 1993, a date on which Emil Kostadinov scored a deciding goal in the 90th minute 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 surprisingly reaching the semi-finals. They entered a very tough Group D with 1990 World Cup runners-up Argentina with Diego Maradona at the helm, African Nations Cup champions Nigeria, and Balkan rivals Greece. The first match ended with a 3–0 defeat to Nigeria. Despite the bad start, the team made quite a huge statement by winning 4–0 against their Greece and increasing their goal difference. Their third and final match came against Argentina. The powerful Bulgarian side came away with a shocking 2–0 victory. Going into injury-time, Argentina was leading the group. A 91st-minute strike from Nasko Sirakov, however, meant that they'd drop two places and finish third.

Bulgaria continued to the round of 16, where they faced Mexico. Stoichkov opened the scoring in the sixth minute with an incredible strike off a break away from outside the box, tallying his fourth goal. The match ended 1–1 and after no goals were scored in extra time, penalties decided which team would go through. Team captain Borislav Mihaylov saved the first three penalty kicks in a row, breaking the World Cup record. Bulgaria won 3–1 on penalties. In the quarter-finals, Bulgaria faced the defending world champions Germany. At the start of the match held in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Bulgarians dominated impressively, hitting the post twice in the process, but eventually found themselves behind after Lothar Matthäus scored the opening goal for the Germans. The Bulgarians, however, managed to turn the game over with a swerving free kick by Hristo Stoichkov and a flying header by Yordan Lechkov, giving them a 2–1 win. In the semi-finals, they controversially lost 2–1 to Italy. Stoichkov scored Bulgaria's only goal in the first half to tally his seventh goal, which led the tournament. In the second half, Bulgaria were waved off on a non-penalty call in which an Italian defender had clearly committed a handball in the box, off a Kostadinov cross. Instead of playing in the final, it became a third place play-off. Bulgaria lost against Sweden 4-0, but the fourth place finish was Bulgaria's best performance in history to that point.

Hristo Stoichkov was awarded the Golden Boot shared with Oleg Salenko as the top scorer in the tournament with his six goals. Krasimir Balakov was named in the 1994 World Cup Dream Team along with Stoichkov. Later on in December, Stoichkov was awarded the FIFA Ballon D'Or trophy for his great skill and leadership, becoming the first Bulgarian and third Barcelona player to win it in history.[citation needed]

Euro 1996: Controversial quarter-final callEdit

In 1996, the team qualified for the European Football Championship for the first time. They were drawn in Group B with France, Spain, and Romania. Bulgaria started with a 1–1 draw against the Spain. Stoichkov scored his second goal with a wonderful volley, ruled offside. Bulgaria defeated Romania 1–0 in the next group stage match. Stoichkov scored in the third minute. In the final group match, the Bulgarian side lost 3–1 against France; Stoichkov scored a free kick to give Bulgaria their only goal of the game, along with their only loss. At the same time, Spain defeated Romania 2–1, and Bulgaria were eliminated.

1998 World Cup: The Last Stand of the "Golden Team"Edit

Bulgaria qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France by finishing first in Group 5, with decisive wins over Russia. They entered the competition with new manager Hristo Bonev. Bulgaria drew Spain, Nigeria, and Paraguay in Group D. The first match ended decently, in a goalless draw against eventual group runners up Paraguay. In the second match, the Bulgarians lost 1–0 for a second-straight World Cup to Nigeria. The final match ended with a 6–1 defeat to Spain. Following the bad results, Bulgaria finished fourth in the group, with only one point. This was the last World Cup appearance for Bulgaria.

Euro 2000 qualification: The end of a legendary eraEdit

Bulgaria was drawn in a tough qualifying group with teams England, Sweden, and Poland. The campaign started slow with a draw and a defeat 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 match for Stoichkov before his international retirement. Bulgaria finished fourth with eight points and failed to make the final stages of Euro 2000.

2002 World Cup qualification: Beginning of the World Cup droughtEdit

Bulgaria was once again drawn into a tough group with Denmark and Czech Republic. The group was also the debut of Bulgaria's top scoring legend Dimitar Berbatov. Bulgaria won the matches against the weaker teams, but lost once and drew once with both Denmark and the Czech Republic. Bulgaria finished third with 17 points, three points behind second-placed Czech Republic, thus failing to make the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

Euro 2004Edit

Bulgaria managed to qualify for the Euro 2004 in Portugal by finishing first with wins over Croatia and Belgium. They drew Sweden, Italy, and Denmark in Group C. All three group stage matches ended up in losses for Bulgaria, with Martin Petrov being the team's lone scorer in the country's 1–2 loss to Italy.

2006 World Cup qualification: FailureEdit

Bulgaria failed to qualify for the World Cup in Germany after a run of poor results. They tied with Sweden and Croatia the first run but lost the other meetings to the two sides. Although Berbatov scored many goals in the qualifiers including a last-minute equalizer against Croatia, Bulgaria still finished third in qualifying with 15 points.

2006 Kirin CupEdit

Bulgaria found themselves in a minor tournament in Japan known as the Kirin Cup. They started off well with a 2–1 victory over the hosts Japan. However, Bulgaria lost 5–1 to Scotland, the eventual cup champions. Bulgaria finished as the runners-up and received the silver medal.

Euro 2008 qualificationEdit

Group G of Euro 2008 qualification had Netherlands, Romania, and Bulgaria attempting to qualify for Euro 2008, hosted by Switzerland and Austria. Bulgaria performed well after a run of good results against Romania which gave them the first place. Bulgaria went on to the playoffs but drew the first match 1–1 along with losing their second match 2–0.

2010 World Cup qualificationEdit

 
Bulgaria in 2010

Bulgaria were drawn against Italy and Ireland in qualifying in Group 8. Bulgaria started the campaign with a series of draws. Manager Plamen Markov was replaced by Stanimir Stoilov in January 2009. The Bulgarians then recorded their first wins of the group over Cyprus, Montenegro and Georgia. They finished in third place with 14 points, therefore failing to qualify to a play-off spot.

Euro 2012 qualificationEdit

 
The national team in 2012

Bulgaria were drawn in Group G along with England, Switzerland, Wales, and Montenegro. Bulgaria finished in last place in the group.

2014 World Cup qualificationEdit

In the qualification phase for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, 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 some noteworthy performances in friendly matches before the start of the qualifying, including a 2–1 victory over 2010 World Cup runners-up Netherlands in Amsterdam. The qualifying began with a 2–2 draw against Euro 2012 runners-up Italy. Bulgaria then edged a tight match against Armenia, which ended 1–0. Next, Bulgaria drew 1–1 against Denmark. Four days later, Bulgaria earning a hard-fought 0–0 draw away to the Czech Republic. As a result, the team climbed from 96th in the FIFA World Rankings, their lowest position in history, to 40th in November 2012.

Penev's players hosted and defeated Malta 6–0 under heavy snowfall. Four days later, Bulgaria drew Denmark 1–1 in Copenhagen. This result left Bulgaria second in the group with 10 points, still undefeated. Bulgaria traveled to Italy, losing 1–0. After a series of poor results, Bulgaria ended up failing to qualify for Brazil 2014.

Euro 2016 qualification: Continuation of the droughtEdit

Bulgaria were placed in a group with Italy, Croatia, Norway, Azerbaijan, and Malta. Bulgaria opened up their first match with a 2–1 victory over Azerbaijan. They were defeated 1–0 by Croatia, following another 2–1 defeat to Norway. To make it worse, Bulgaria drew with Malta 1–1 at home, which would cost manager Lyuboslav Penev his position. He was replaced by Ludogorets Razgrad manager Ivaylo Petev.

On his debut match, Petev's squad drew Romania 0-0; this later led to a 2–2 draw with Italy, which Bulgaria led until a last-minute Italian equalizer. Bulgaria defeated Malta 1–0 to edge two points ever closer to the third place playoff position. After a series of losses, Bulgaria failed to qualify for Euro 2016 in France despite a 2–0 defeat of Azerbaijan.

2018 World Cup qualificationEdit

Bulgaria were drawn in a strong World Cup qualification group with the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Belarus and Luxembourg. They began with a 4–3 win against Luxembourg at home.[4] This was followed by heavy losses to France (4–1) and Sweden (3–0).[5][6] In November 2016, the Lions beat Belarus in Sofia 1–0,[7] and then put up one of their best performances in recent years, beating the Netherlands 2–0 to move into third place in the group.[8] Bulgaria then beat the group leaders Sweden 3–2 in Sofia to move one point behind their opponents in the table.[9] However, they lost the match against the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Arena 3–1. A 1–0 defeat at home to France and a 1–1 draw in Luxembourg ended their chances of qualifying.[10]

Euro 2020 qualification and Nations League: Play-offsEdit

Bulgaria were drawn in UEFA Nations League C with Norway, Slovenia and Cyprus. Bulgaria opened up the campaign with a 2–1 win over Slovenia and a clean sheet against Norway. The Norwegians eventually avenged their loss to Bulgaria, resulting in a tie for first place. Bulgaria eventually closed out the second round of games with two 1–1 draws against Slovenia and Cyprus, resulting in a second-place finish.

Bulgaria was drawn in Group A with England, Czech Republic, Montenegro and Kosovo. The team began the qualifying campaign with a 1–1 home draw against Montenegro and a 1–1 away draw to Kosovo while losing three major players due to injuries.[11] They later carried on with two more losses which sparked the end of their group campaign. Despite finishing in fourth place, the national side had one more opportunity to qualify for the Euros thanks to the good performance in the Nations League. It sent Bulgaria to the Path A qualifying play-offs, which also included Hungary, Iceland and Romania.

The draw put Bulgaria against Hungary in their first play-off match on their quest to qualify for a major competition since 2004. However, in front of limited number of home fans, Bulgaria fell 1–3 to Hungary, and was eliminated from the tournament.[12][13]

2020−21 Nations LeagueEdit

After appointing Georgi Dermendzhiev as their new head coach, Bulgaria began their brief promotion in League B. Being drawn into Group 4 with Wales, Finland and Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria played its first match against Ireland. A near victory for the Bulgarians until a 90th minute injury time equalizer sealed the draw for the Irish.[14] Bulgaria would then play away to Wales, where they held the hosts leveled 0-0 until another 90th minute injury time goal that resulted in 0-1 loss. The problems would continue with another set of narrow losses to Finland and Wales, forcing Bulgaria to miss out on promotion to League A. With two more two matches left, Bulgaria finished winless against Finland and Ireland, relegating the Lions to League C.

Team imageEdit

Bulgaria's traditional colours are white, green and red, taken from the colours of the country's flag. This tricolour is reflected through the use of white shirts, green shorts, and red socks. The team's away kits have usually been red.

Their nickname is The Lions, in tribute of the lions represented in the coat of arms of Bulgaria.

Ultras and controversyEdit

In recent years, ultras of the Bulgarian team have developed a reputation for racism. After racist chanting and monkey noises directed at Ashley Young, Ashley Cole and Theo Walcott during a qualifier for Euro 2012, the Bulgarian Football Union was fined €40,000 by UEFA.[15] The BFU denied that racism would be an issue during Euro 2020 qualifiers, claiming that the issue was worse in England.[16] Nevertheless, Bulgarian ultras were accused of racist chants during their matches against Czech Republic, Kosovo and England. As a result, part of the Bulgarian stadium was closed off for the match against England (October 2019), and officials twice halted the game under the UEFA anti-racism protocol.[17] In the following days since the match took place, Bulgarian police identified 15 fans they suspected were responsible for subjecting black English players including Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Tyrone Mings to racist abuse, arresting six of them.[18]

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin condemned the alleged abuse calling on the "football family and governments" to "wage war on the racists".[19] Disciplinary proceedings have been launched against both Bulgaria and England.[20]

Home stadiumEdit

 
Vasil Levski National Stadium

Normally, the Bulgarian national football team's home stadium is the Vasil Levski National Stadium with a capacity of 44,000. Vasil Levski was officially opened in 1953 and reconstructed in 1966 and 2002. It is the second largest stadium in Bulgaria, behind the Plovdiv Stadium with a capacity of 55,000. During the 2006–07 UEFA Champions League, the stadium was used for Levski Sofia matches with Barcelona, Chelsea, and Werder Bremen. Similarly, Ludogorets Razgrad used it as their main home venue for their European matches until the 2017–18 season. The Bulgarian national team's home matches and the Bulgarian Cup finals are held at the venue, as well as athletics competitions.

Competitive recordEdit

FIFA World CupEdit

  Champions    Runners-up    Third place    Fourth place  

FIFA World Cup record Qualification record
Year Result Position Pld W D* L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
  1930 Did not enter Declined invitation
  1934 Did not qualify 3 0 0 3 3 14
  1938 2 0 1 1 1 7
  1950 Did not enter Declined participation
  1954 Did not qualify 4 0 1 3 3 7
  1958 4 2 0 2 11 7
  1962 Group stage 15th 3 0 1 2 1 7 Squad 5 4 0 1 7 4
  1966 Group stage 15th 3 0 0 3 1 8 Squad 5 4 0 1 11 7
  1970 Group stage 13th 3 0 1 2 5 9 Squad 6 4 1 1 12 7
  1974 Group stage 12th 3 0 2 1 2 5 Squad 6 4 2 0 13 3
  1978 Did not qualify 4 1 2 1 5 6
  1982 8 4 1 3 11 10
  1986 Round of 16 15th 4 0 2 2 2 6 Squad 8 5 1 2 13 5
  1990 Did not qualify 6 1 1 4 6 8
  1994 Fourth place 4th 7 3 1 3 10 11 Squad 10 6 2 2 19 10
  1998 Group stage 29th 3 0 1 2 1 7 Squad 8 6 0 2 18 9
    2002 Did not qualify 10 5 2 3 14 15
  2006 10 4 3 3 17 17
  2010 10 3 5 2 17 13
  2014 10 3 4 3 14 9
  2018 10 4 1 5 14 19
  2022 To be determined In progress
      2026 To be determined
Total Fourth place 7/21 26 3 8 15 22 53 129 60 27 42 209 177
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

UEFA European ChampionshipEdit

UEFA European Championship record Qualifying record
Year Result Position Pld W D* L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
  1960 Did not qualify 2 0 1 1 1 3
  1964 5 3 0 2 7 7
  1968 8 5 2 1 13 4
  1972 6 3 1 2 11 7
  1976 6 2 2 2 12 7
  1980 8 2 1 5 6 14
  1984 6 2 1 3 7 8
  1988 8 4 2 2 12 6
  1992 8 3 3 2 15 8
  1996 Group stage 11th 3 1 1 1 3 4 Squad 10 7 1 2 24 10
    2000 Did not qualify 8 2 2 4 6 8
  2004 Group stage 16th 3 0 0 3 1 9 Squad 8 5 2 1 13 4
    2008 Did not qualify 12 7 4 1 18 7
    2012 8 1 2 5 3 13
  2016 10 3 2 5 9 12
  2020 9 1 3 5 7 20
  2024 To be determined To be determined
Total Group stage 2/16 6 1 1 4 4 13 122 50 29 43 164 140
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

UEFA Nations LeagueEdit

UEFA Nations League record
Season** Division Group Pld W D* L GF GA P/R RK
  2018–19 C 3 6 3 2 1 7 5   29th
  2020–21 B 4 6 0 2 4 2 7   31st
  2022–23 C To be determined
Total 12 3 4 5 9 12 29th
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
**Group stage played home and away. Flag shown represents host nation for the finals stage.

Olympic GamesEdit

Olympic Games record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad
  1908 Did not enter
  1912
  1920
  1924 Round of 16 12th 1 0 0 1 0 1 Squad
  1928 Did not enter
  1936
  1948
  1952 Round of 16 13th 1 0 0 1 1 2 Squad
  1956 Bronze medal 3rd 3 2 0 1 10 3 Squad
  1960 Group stage 5th 3 2 1 0 8 3 Squad
  1964 Did not qualify
  1968 Silver medal 2nd 6 3 2 1 16 10 Squad
  1972 Did not qualify
  1976
  1980
  1984
  1988
Since 1992 Olympic football has been an under-23 tournament
Total 1 Silver medal 5/17 14 7 3 4 35 19

Balkan CupEdit

Balkan Cup record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA
1929–31 Fourth place 4th 6 2 0 4 10 19
  1931 Champions 1st 2 2 0 0 8 3
  1932 Champions 1st 3 3 0 0 7 2
  1933 Third place 3rd 3 1 0 2 2 11
  1934–35 Fourth place 4th 3 1 0 2 7 8
  1935 Runners-up 2nd 3 2 1 0 12 5
  1936 Runners-up 2nd 2 1 0 1 6 8
  1946 Fourth place 4th 3 0 1 2 4 7
1947 Fourth place 4th 4 1 0 3 5 14
1948* Group stage 3rd 5 2 1 2 6 7
1973–76 Champions 1st 4 2 0 2 10 9
1977–80 Group stage 3rd 4 1 1 2 4 6
Total 3 Titles 12/12 42 18 4 20 81 99
*Competition abandoned with Bulgaria in third place.

Head-to-head recordEdit

As of 8 September 2021 after the match against   Georgia.[21]

  Positive Record   Neutral Record   Negative Record

  1. ^ Includes matches against   Czechoslovakia.
  2. ^ Includes matches against   West Germany.
  3. ^ Includes matches against   Soviet Union.
  4. ^ Includes matches against   Yugoslavia and   Serbia and Montenegro.

Results and fixturesEdit

  Win   Draw   Loss

2020Edit

3 September 2020 (2020-09-03) UEFA Nations League Bulgaria   1–1   Republic of Ireland Sofia, Bulgaria
20:45
(21:45 UTC+3)
Report
Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Attendance: 0[note 1]
Referee: Manuel Schüttengruber (Austria)
6 September 2020 (2020-09-06) UEFA Nations League Wales   1–0   Bulgaria Cardiff, Wales
15:00
(14:00 UTC+1)
Report Stadium: Cardiff City Stadium
Attendance: 0[note 1]
Referee: Fábio Veríssimo (Portugal)
8 October 2020 (2020-10-08) UEFA Euro 2020 PO SF Bulgaria   1–3   Hungary Sofia, Bulgaria
20:45
(21:45 UTC+2)
Report
Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Attendance: 1,929
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland)
11 October 2020 (2020-10-11) UEFA Nations League Finland   2–0   Bulgaria Helsinki, Finland
18:00
(19:00 UTC+3)
Report Stadium: Olympic Stadium
Attendance: 6,587
Referee: Erik Lambrechts (Belgium)
14 October 2020 (2020-10-14) UEFA Nations League Bulgaria   0–1   Wales Sofia, Bulgaria
20:45
(21:45 UTC+3)
Report
Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Attendance: 478
Referee: Aliyar Aghayev (Azerbaijan)
11 November 2020 (2020-11-11) Friendly Bulgaria   3–0   Gibraltar Sofia, Bulgaria
19:00
(18:00 UTC+2)
Report Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Attendance: 0
Referee: Sebastian Colțescu (Romania)
15 November 2020 (2020-11-15) UEFA Nations League Bulgaria   1–2   Finland Sofia, Bulgaria
18:00
(19:00 UTC+2)
Report
Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Attendance: 0
Referee: Donatas Rumšas (Lithuania)
18 November 2020 (2020-11-18) UEFA Nations League Republic of Ireland   0–0   Bulgaria Dublin, Republic of Ireland
20:45
(19:45 UTC±0)
Report Stadium: Aviva Stadium
Attendance: 0
Referee: Lawrence Visser (Belgium)

2021Edit

25 March 2021 (2021-03-25) 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Bulgaria   1–3    Switzerland Sofia, Bulgaria
18:00
(19:00 UTC+1)
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Attendance: 0
Referee: Nikola Dabanović (Montenegro)
28 March 2021 (2021-03-28) 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Bulgaria   0–2   Italy Sofia, Bulgaria
21:45
(21:45 UTC+1)
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Attendance: 0
Referee: Slavko Vinčić (Slovenia)
31 March 2021 (2021-03-31) 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Northern Ireland   0–0   Bulgaria Belfast, Northern Ireland
19:45
(20:45 UTC+2)
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Windsor Park
Attendance: 0
Referee: Igal Frid (Israel)
1 June 2021 (2021-06-01) Friendly Slovakia   1–1   Bulgaria Ried im Innkreis, Austria
18:00 Bénes   27' Report A. Iliev   9' Stadium: Keine Sorgen Arena
Attendance: 0
Referee: Walter Altmann (Austria)
5 June 2021 (2021-06-05) Friendly Russia   1–0   Bulgaria Moscow, Russia
17:00
(18:00 UTC+3)
Sobolev   84' (pen.) Report Stadium: VTB Arena
Attendance: 11,100
Referee: Aleksei Kulbakov (Belarus)
8 June 2021 (2021-06-08) Friendly France   3–0   Bulgaria Saint-Denis, France
21:10
Report Stadium: Stade de France
Attendance: 5,000
Referee: Tasos Sidiropoulos (Greece)
2 September 2021 (2021-09-02) 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Italy   1–1   Bulgaria Florence, Italy
20:45
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Stadio Artemio Franchi
Attendance: 14,366
Referee: Serdar Gözübüyük (Netherlands)
5 September 2021 (2021-09-05) 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Bulgaria   1–0   Lithuania Sofia, Bulgaria
19:00
(18:00 UTC+2)
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Attendance: 2,503
Referee: John Beaton (Scotland)
8 September 2021 (2021-09-08) Friendly Bulgaria   4–1   Georgia Sofia, Bulgaria
19:30
(18:30 UTC+2)
Report
Stadium: Vasil Levski National Stadium
Referee: Igor Stojchevski (North Macedonia)
9 October 2021 (2021-10-09) 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Lithuania   v   Bulgaria Vilnius, Lithuania
14:00
(15:00 UTC+2)
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: LFF Stadium
11 November 2021 (2021-11-11) Friendly Ukraine   v   Bulgaria Odesa, Ukraine
Stadium: Chornomorets Stadium
15 November 2021 (2021-11-15) 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Switzerland    v   Bulgaria Lucerne, Switzerland
20:45 Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Swissporarena

PlayersEdit

Current squadEdit

The following players were called up for the matches against   Italy on 2 September 2021,   Lithuania on 5 September 2021 and   Georgia on 8 September 2021.[24]
Caps and goals as of 8 September 2021, after the match against   Georgia.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
13 1GK Nikolay Mihaylov (1988-06-28) 28 June 1988 (age 33) 40 0   Levski Sofia
23 1GK Georgi Georgiev (1988-10-12) 12 October 1988 (age 32) 8 0   Cherno More Varna
1 1GK Daniel Naumov (1998-03-29) 29 March 1998 (age 23) 3 0   CSKA 1948

15 2DF Vasil Bozhikov (3rd captain) (1988-06-02) 2 June 1988 (age 33) 35 2   Slovan Bratislava
2DF Anton Nedyalkov (1993-04-30) 30 April 1993 (age 28) 21 0   Ludogorets Razgrad
2DF Valentin Antov (2000-11-09) 9 November 2000 (age 20) 10 0   Monza
5 2DF Petko Hristov (1999-03-01) 1 March 1999 (age 22) 7 0   Spezia
3 2DF Andrea Hristov (1999-03-01) 1 March 1999 (age 22) 6 1   Slavia Sofia
2DF Ivan Turitsov (1999-07-18) 18 July 1999 (age 22) 5 0   CSKA Sofia
2 2DF Dimitar Velkovski (1995-01-22) 22 January 1995 (age 26) 4 0   Cercle Brugge

8 3MF Todor Nedelev (1993-02-07) 7 February 1993 (age 28) 35 3   Botev Plovdiv
7 3MF Georgi Kostadinov (captain) (1990-09-07) 7 September 1990 (age 31) 31 3   Arsenal Tula
18 3MF Ivaylo Chochev (1993-02-18) 18 February 1993 (age 28) 27 4   CSKA 1948
16 3MF Kristiyan Malinov (1994-03-30) 30 March 1994 (age 27) 24 0   OH Leuven
6 3MF Birsent Karagaren (1992-12-06) 6 December 1992 (age 28) 13 0   Lokomotiv Plovdiv
12 3MF Dominik Yankov (2000-07-28) 28 July 2000 (age 21) 8 0   Ludogorets Razgrad
14 3MF Petar Vitanov (1995-03-10) 10 March 1995 (age 26) 7 0   Lokomotiv Plovdiv
10 3MF Radoslav Kirilov (1992-06-29) 29 June 1992 (age 29) 4 0   Slavia Sofia
22 3MF Ilian Iliev Jr. (1999-08-20) 20 August 1999 (age 22) 3 0   Apollon Limassol
11 3MF Borislav Tsonev (1995-04-29) 29 April 1995 (age 26) 1 0   Levski Sofia

9 4FW Spas Delev (1989-09-22) 22 September 1989 (age 32) 34 3   Arda Kardzhali
4FW Kiril Despodov (1996-11-11) 11 November 1996 (age 24) 22 2   Ludogorets Razgrad
20 4FW Dimitar Iliev (vice-captain) (1988-09-25) 25 September 1988 (age 33) 12 3   Lokomotiv Plovdiv
19 4FW Atanas Iliev (1994-10-09) 9 October 1994 (age 26) 8 2   Ascoli
4FW Georgi Yomov (1997-07-06) 6 July 1997 (age 24) 8 2   CSKA Sofia
21 4FW Kaloyan Krastev (1999-01-24) 24 January 1999 (age 22) 3 0   CSKA Sofia

Recent call-upsEdit

The following players have also been called up to the Bulgarian squad within the last 12 months and are still available for selection.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Ivan Karadzhov (1989-07-12) 12 July 1989 (age 32) 1 0   Arda Kardzhali v.   France, 8 June 2021
GK Plamen Iliev (1991-11-30) 30 November 1991 (age 29) 19 0   Dinamo București v.   Northern Ireland, 31 March 2021
GK Martin Lukov (1993-07-05) 5 July 1993 (age 28) 4 0   Al-Tai v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020
GK Hristiyan Vasilev (1997-12-05) 5 December 1997 (age 23) 0 0   Tsarsko Selo v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020 COVID

DF Kristian Dimitrov (1997-02-27) 27 February 1997 (age 24) 12 1   Hajduk Split v.   France, 8 June 2021
DF Daniel Dimov (1989-01-21) 21 January 1989 (age 32) 2 0   Cherno More Varna v.   France, 8 June 2021 WD
DF Petar Zanev (1985-10-18) 18 October 1985 (age 35) 46 0   Pirin Blagoevgrad v.   Northern Ireland, 31 March 2021
DF Strahil Popov (1990-08-31) 31 August 1990 (age 31) 35 0   Hatayspor v.   Northern Ireland, 31 March 2021
DF Cicinho (1988-12-26) 26 December 1988 (age 32) 7 0   Ludogorets Razgrad v.   Northern Ireland, 31 March 2021 INJ
DF Georgi Angelov (1990-11-12) 12 November 1990 (age 30) 1 0   CSKA 1948 v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020
DF Aleksandar Vasilev (1995-04-27) 27 April 1995 (age 26) 1 0   Beroe Stara Zagora v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020
DF Radoslav Terziev (1994-08-06) 6 August 1994 (age 27) 0 0   Montana v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020
DF Viktor Popov (2000-03-05) 5 March 2000 (age 21) 3 0   Cherno More Varna v.   Finland, 15 November 2020 U21
DF Georgi Terziev (1992-04-18) 18 April 1992 (age 29) 16 0   Ludogorets Razgrad v.   Gibraltar, 11 November 2020 COVID
DF Tsvetomir Panov (1989-04-17) 17 April 1989 (age 32) 1 0   Cherno More Varna v.   Wales, 14 October 2020

MF Yanis Karabelyov (1996-01-23) 23 January 1996 (age 25) 6 0   Kisvárda v.   France, 8 June 2021
MF Momchil Tsvetanov (1990-12-03) 3 December 1990 (age 30) 6 0   Gangwon FC v.   France, 8 June 2021
MF Antonio Vutov (1996-06-06) 6 June 1996 (age 25) 2 0   Mezőkövesd v.   France, 8 June 2021
MF Lachezar Kotev (1998-01-05) 5 January 1998 (age 23) 0 0   Arda Kardzhali v.   France, 8 June 2021
MF Dimitar Kostadinov (1999-08-14) 14 August 1999 (age 22) 0 0   Levski Sofia v.   Slovakia, 1 June 2021 INJ
MF Martin Raynov (1992-04-25) 25 April 1992 (age 29) 8 0   Argeș v.   Northern Ireland, 31 March 2021
MF Galin Ivanov (1988-04-15) 15 April 1988 (age 33) 16 1   CSKA 1948 v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020
MF Aleksandar Tsvetkov (1990-08-31) 31 August 1990 (age 31) 11 1   Beroe Stara Zagora v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020
MF Svetoslav Kovachev (1998-03-14) 14 March 1998 (age 23) 4 0   Arda Kardzhali v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020
MF Denislav Aleksandrov (1997-07-17) 17 July 1997 (age 24) 1 0   CSKA 1948 v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020
MF Serkan Yusein (1996-03-31) 31 March 1996 (age 25) 0 0   Beroe Stara Zagora v.   Republic of Ireland, 18 November 2020
MF Filip Krastev (2001-10-15) 15 October 2001 (age 19) 1 0   Cambuur v.   Wales, 14 October 2020

FW Bozhidar Kraev (1997-06-23) 23 June 1997 (age 24) 24 3   Midtjylland v.   France, 8 June 2021
FW Andrey Galabinov (1988-11-27) 27 November 1988 (age 32) 14 2   Reggina v.   France, 8 June 2021
FW Georgi Minchev (1995-04-20) 20 April 1995 (age 26) 3 0   Lokomotiv Plovdiv v.   France, 8 June 2021
FW Zdravko Dimitrov (1998-08-24) 24 August 1998 (age 23) 1 0   Levski Sofia v.   Finland, 15 November 2020 U21
FW Ismail Isa (1989-06-26) 26 June 1989 (age 32) 8 1   Cherno More Varna v.   Wales, 14 October 2020

INJ Player withdrew from the current squad due to injury.
COVID Player withdrew from the current squad due to testing positively for COVID-19 or having to self-isolate because of it.
U21 Not part of the squad due to U-21 call up.
PRE Preliminary squad.
RET Player had announced retirement from international football.
SUS Player is serving a suspension.
PRI Player absent due to private circumstances.
WD Withdrawn.

Coaching staffEdit

Role Name
Head coach   Yasen Petrov
Assistant coach   Kostadin Vidolov
Assistant coach   Alexander Georgiev
Goalkeeping coach   Georgi Sheytanov

Player recordsEdit

As of 28 March 2021[25]
Players in bold text are still active with Bulgaria.

Most appearancesEdit

 
Stiliyan Petrov is Bulgaria's most capped player with 105 appearances
Rank Player Caps Goals Career
1 Stiliyan Petrov 105 8 1998–2013
2 Borislav Mihaylov 102 0 1983–1998
3 Hristo Bonev 96 48 1967–1979
4 Krasimir Balakov 92 16 1988–2003
5 Dimitar Penev 90 2 1965–1974
Ivelin Popov 90 16 2007–2019
7 Martin Petrov 89 19 1999–2013
8 Radostin Kishishev 88 1 1996–2009
9 Hristo Stoichkov 83 37 1986–1999
10 Ayan Sadakov 80 9 1981–1991
Zlatko Yankov 80 4 1989–1999

Most goalsEdit

 
Dimitar Berbatov is Bulgaria's joint all-time top scorer with 48 goals.
Rank Player Goals Caps Average Career
1 Dimitar Berbatov 48 78 0.62 1999–2010
Hristo Bonev 48 96 0.5 1967–1979
3 Hristo Stoichkov 37 83 0.46 1987–1999
4 Emil Kostadinov 27 70 0.39 1988–1998
5 Petar Zhekov 25 44 0.57 1963–1972
Ivan Kolev 25 75 0.33 1950–1963
7 Nasko Sirakov 24 78 0.31 1983–1996
8 Atanas Mihaylov 23 45 0.51 1970–1981
9 Dimitar Milanov 20 39 0.51 1948–1959
10 Georgi Asparuhov 19 50 0.38 1962–1970
Dinko Dermendzhiev 19 58 0.33 1966–1977
Martin Petrov 19 89 0.21 1999–2013

Head coachesEdit

Ranking historyEdit

Rank Date
Best Rank 8 June 1995
Current Rank 70 September 2021
Worst Rank 96 May 2012
  • FIFA-ranking yearly averages for Bulgaria (1992–2021)[26]
As of 12 August 2021

HonoursEdit

This is a list of honours for the senior Bulgaria national team

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, all matches scheduled for September 2020 will be played behind closed doors.[22][23]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 16 September 2021. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  2. ^ Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". eloratings.net. 25 September 2021. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  3. ^ "1924 friendly Austria v Bulgaria". worldfootball.net.
  4. ^ "Bulgaria-Luxembourg - European Qualifiers". UEFA.com.
  5. ^ "France-Bulgaria - European Qualifiers". UEFA.com.
  6. ^ "Sweden-Bulgaria - European Qualifiers". UEFA.com.
  7. ^ "Bulgaria-Belarus - European Qualifiers". UEFA.com.
  8. ^ "Bulgaria-Netherlands - European Qualifiers". UEFA.com.
  9. ^ "Bulgaria-Sweden - European Qualifiers". UEFA.com.
  10. ^ "Netherlands-Bulgaria - European Qualifiers". UEFA.com.
  11. ^ "Bulgaria-Montenegro - European Qualifiers". UEFA.com.
  12. ^ "Bulgaria-Hungary - Euro 2020 Qualifying Play-off Semi-final". Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  13. ^ https://armymedia.bg/archives/191684
  14. ^ "Bulgaria-Republic of Ireland - 2020-21 Nations League B". Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  15. ^ Fifield, Dominic (18 November 2011). "Bulgaria fined by Uefa after racist chanting against England". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  16. ^ Aarons, Ed (13 October 2019). "Bulgaria's Krasimir Balakov says English game has more of an issue with racism". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Bulgaria v England: Euro 2020 qualifier halted twice due to racist behaviour from fans". BBC News. 15 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Bulgaria v England: Police arrest six following racist abuse at Euro qualifier". 16 October 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Bulgaria v England: 'Football family' must 'wage war on the racists' says Uefa president". 15 October 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Bulgaria v England: 'Football family' must 'wage war on the racists' says Uefa president". 15 October 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  21. ^ "World Football Elo Ratings: Bulgaria".
  22. ^ "UEFA meets general secretaries of member associations". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 19 August 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  23. ^ "UEFA Super Cup to test partial return of spectators". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 25 August 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  24. ^ "Extended squad of the Bulgaria A team for the friendlies against Italy, Lithuania and Georgia". Bulgarian Football Union. 23 August 2021.
  25. ^ Mamrud, Roberto. "Bulgaria - Record International Players". RSSSF.
  26. ^ "FIFA-ranking yearly averages for Bulgaria". FIFA.com.

External linksEdit