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The Bulgaria national football team (Bulgarian: Български национален отбор по футбол) is an association football team of Bulgaria. It is fielded by the Bulgarian Football Union, a member association of UEFA. The team's home stadium is the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia and Krasimir Balakov is the current national manager. Their best achievements are – reaching the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 1994, reaching the Summer Olympics final in 1968, quarter-finals at the UEFA Euro 1968, along with winning four Balkan Cup titles. Although defeating strong top-ranked teams in many international friendlies throughout the years, the team's strength has slowly fallen. In result, Bulgaria has failed to qualify for any major tournament since 2004.

Bulgaria
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)Лъвовете (The Lions)
AssociationBulgarian Football Union
ConfederationUEFA (Europe)
Head coachKrassimir Balakov
CaptainIvelin Popov
Most capsStiliyan Petrov (105)
Top scorerDimitar Berbatov (48)
Hristo Bonev (48)
Home stadiumVasil Levski National Stadium
FIFA codeBUL
First colours
Second colours
Third colours
FIFA ranking
Current 57 Decrease 6 (14 June 2019)[1]
Highest3 (June 1995)
Lowest96 (August 2012)
Elo ranking
Current 63 Decrease 9 (10 July 2019)[2]
Highest3 (August 1975)
Lowest69 (12 November 2016)
First international
 Bulgaria 0–0[3] Austria 
(Vienna, Austria; 21 May 1924)
Biggest win
 Bulgaria 10–0 Ghana 
(Leon, Mexico; 14 October 1968)
Biggest defeat
 Bulgaria 1–8 Spain 
(Madrid, Spain; 22 August 1933)
World Cup
Appearances7 (first in 1930)
Best resultBronze Semi-Finals (1994)
Euro Cup
Appearances3 (first in 1968)
Best resultQuarter-Finals (1968)
Olympics
Appearances5 (first in 1924)
Best resultSilver Runners-Up (1968)
Balkan Cup
Appearances12 (first in 1930)
Best resultGold medal with cup.svg Champions (1931, 1932, 1948, 1976)

Contents

HistoryEdit

The BeginningEdit

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 0–0 to Austria. Bulgaria also participated in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris a few days later.

1930 World Cup WithdrawalEdit

Bulgaria's first qualification to a World Cup came 1930 when they qualified for the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay. The national team had to cancel their entry due to flight delays caused by tropical storms and hurricanes on the Atlantic Ocean. Their original group stage opponents were set as Brazil, Yugoslavia and Bolivia. This was a major disappointment to the national side. Bulgaria’s next World Cup campaign would come almost 32 years later when they qualified for the 1962 World Cup in Chile.

Years of International WildernessEdit

After their disappointment of not being able to compete in their first world cup, the Bulgarian side sadly could not qualify for any major tournament for nearly 30 years. Luck was simply not on their side as they would narrowly fall 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 side did manage to defeat many great 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. Finally, after their long stretch of absence, their time of international revival had come. The national side had qualified for the World Cup for the second time, in Chile, 1962.

1960s and 1970s: Rising to prominenceEdit

Bulgaria qualified for the World Cup for the second 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 three out of the four times.

The team qualified for its first-ever UEFA European Championship in 1968 and went on to win their group with impressive wins over Norway (4–2), Sweden (3–0) and Portugal (1–0) before losing to eventual champions and hosts Italy in a two-legged quarter-final. Bulgaria won the first leg 3–2, but lost the second by a 2–0 score to lose 4–3 on aggregate. They remained the only team to have defeated the eventual champions, before their surprising quarter-final finish.

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 tournament two times already in 1931 and 1932, the Bulgaria national team added two more Balkan Cup 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 tough opponents England, powerhouse Argentina and super powerhouse Hungary. Bulgaria opened up their campaign with a narrow 0–1 loss to Argentina. Later on, misery had struck, as Bulgaria would lose their second group match by a 1–6 score to Hungary. Bulgaria’s hopes of qualifying were over, but with one world cup match left, they gave it a shot. The national side impressively drew with future 1966 World Cup Champions England 0-0 and finished fourth in the group with only one point.

1966 World CupEdit

As 4 years passed, so did another chance of world cup success. Bulgaria qualified for their second straight world cup. They were 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 Pele at the helm. Bulgaria opened their campaign match with a 0–2 loss to Brazil thanks to two free kick goals by Pele and Garrincha. Later on Bulgaria carried on with a 0-3 loss to Euseibo's Portugal. Finally Bulgaria, once again with no chance of next round qualification, finished their last match with a 1–3 loss to Hungary. Bulgaria once again finished fourth with zero points in the group. This being Bulgaria’s worst world cup performance yet.

1968 Euro Cup: Quarter-FinalsEdit

After their poor world cup performance, Bulgaria was determined to redeem themselves. Bulgaria was drawn in a very tough group with Scandinavian Giants Norway and Sweden along with legend Euseibo's Portugal. Bulgaria started off very well with a 4–2 win over Norway. They would add to their winning streak with a 3–0 destruction of Sweden. Their final match determined who would win the group. Bulgaria were downed in the past world cup by Portugal 3–0, and they were ready for fierce revenge. Bulgaria went on to defeat Portugal by a 1–0 score. This would seal Bulgaria as the undefeated group winners which qualified them to the two-legged quarterfinal. Bulgaria went on to face Italy, the hosts. Bulgaria started off well, with a 3–2 victory over the Italians. When the second match came, Bulgaria sadly fell 2–0, resulting in elimination from the tournament. Italy would go on to win the European Championship, while Bulgaria were given the 5th-place ranking.

1968 Summer Olympics: Road to the FinalEdit

A month and a half after the European Championship, came the Olympics, which Bulgaria had qualified for the 5th time in their history. They were drawn in a simple group with minnows Thailand, tough opponents Guatemala and giants 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. This time it was in Mexico just like the Olympics two years before. They were drawn in a very tricky group with giants Germany, South American powers Peru and African underdogs Morocco. Bulgaria played their first match against Peru. They were leading the match 2–0 until the Peruvians went on a scoring spree. in result, Bulgaria clumsily fell to Peru 2–3. The second match didn’t change much for Bulgaria as they fell to giants Germany 5–2. With a very slim chance of qualifying, Bulgaria needed a decisive win. They almost achieved this as the national side lead over Morocco for most of the game until the 61st minute. Bulgaria ended up drawing with Morocco 1–1, finishing the group in 3rd place and slightly falling short of next round qualification.

1974 World CupEdit

Four years later, in Germany, Bulgaria qualified for their fourth straight world cup. They were drawn in a decently tough group, with Dutch destroyers Netherlands, up setters Sweden and shockers Uruguay. Bulgaria started off their world cup campaign with Sweden. After a controversial disallowed goal scored by Bulgaria and 90 minutes of no score the game finished as a goalless 0–0 draw. Later on though, Bulgaria drew with Uruguay 1–1 after a hard fought match. Bulgaria remained in good qualifying contention; all they needed to do was tie against the Netherlands. As the final match came, Bulgaria fell by a 1–4 score. Bulgaria remained in the third place group position and sadly once again fell short of the next round. The only positive outcome was that this was their best performance at a world cup, coming off with two points from three matches.

1986 World Cup: The Knockout RoundsEdit

Bulgaria qualified for the 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. A match in which surprised many world spectators. 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, considered the greatest Bulgarian legend & one of the best all time within the sport. He won the Ballon d'or, World & European Golden Boots in 1994. His incredible style of play led Bulgaria to the Semis of World Cup 1994, along with leading FC Barcelona to their first ever UCL European Title 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 where Emil Kostadinov scored two goals 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 and earning the bronze medal. 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 3–1 defeat to Nigeria. Stoichkov scoring the only goal for Bulgaria off an incredible 40 yard curling free-kick in the 32nd minute to tie the game at 1. Despite the bad start, the team made quite a huge statement by winning 4–0 against their Balkan rivals Greece and increasing their goal difference. Their third and final match came against powerhouse and world cup favorites Argentina. The powerful Bulgarian side came away with a shocking 2–0 victory. Argentina had actually been winning the group going into injury-time. 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 6th 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 made a very shocking performance by saving the first three penalty kicks in a row, and breaking the world cup record. Bulgaria won 3–1 on penalties with Mihaylov becoming the hero for the Bulgarian Lions. In the quarter-finals, Bulgaria faced the defending world cup champions Germany. At the start of the match held in Giant's Stadium, the Bulgarians were dominating impressively, hitting the post twice in the process. A majority of the world's football fans were rooting for the legendary Bulgarian side until Lothar Matthäus silenced them by scoring from a penalty to open the scoring. 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 and recording one of the most memorable wins in world cup history. Millions of Bulgarians celebrated this win in the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia along with other notable Bulgarian cities. Having reached the semi-finals, this had become the best Bulgarian performance in their world cup history. 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 a penalty in which the Italian defender had clearly committed a handball in the box, off a Kostadinov cross. Despite the unfair officiating, the Bulgarians shocked the world with their entire world cup performance and were eventually given the bronze medals. Hristo Stoichkov was awarded the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the tournament with his seven goals, along with making the world cup's top ten best goals list. Krasimir Balakov was named in the all-star 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. 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.

1996 Euro Cup: Controversial Quarter-final CallEdit

In 1996, the team qualified for the European Football Championship for the first time, after some great results in the qualifying group, including a stunning 3–2 turn around 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 the Spanish giants. Stoichkov scored his second goal with a wonderful volley but it would be controversially ruled off sides even though the cameras clearly revealed it was not. After their unfair draw with Spain, Bulgaria went on to a 1–0 decisive win over rivals Romania. Stoichkov scored in the 3rd minute adding to his goal list once again. In the final group match, the Bulgarian side lost 3–1 against France, Stoichkov scored an amazing 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 with the winner coming in the 84th minute, and the Bulgarians were subsequently robbed of the quarter-final round.

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

Bulgaria qualified for the World Cup in France by finishing first in the Group 5, with decisive wins over powerhouse Russia. They entered the competition with a new manager Hristo Bonev. Bulgaria drew Spain, Nigeria, and Paraguay in Group D. The first match ended decently, in a 0–0 goalless draw against eventual group winners, 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, even though two Bulgarian off sides goals were ruled out, possibly making the score 6–3. Following the bad results, Bulgaria finished fourth in the group, with only one point, and could not manage to repeat the success they had at the previous World Cup. This was the last major appearance at the world cup level for Bulgaria.

The 2000s: Playoffs and Close CallsEdit

2000 Euro Cup 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 Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov before his international retirement. Bulgaria finished third with eight points and failed to make the final stages of Euro 2000.

Berbatov's EraEdit

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.

2004 Euro CupEdit

 
Berbatov training with Bulgaria Right Before Euro 2004

Bulgaria managed to qualify for the Euro 2004 in Portugal by finishing first along with racking up major wins over Croatia and Belgium. They drew Sweden, Italy, and Denmark in Group C. They started off very slow with disappointing defeat to Sweden, followed by a 2–0 defeat to 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.

2006 World Cup Qualification: Surprising FailureEdit

Bulgaria failed to qualify for the World Cup in Germany after a run of poor results,they started off well with wins over Hungary and other weaker teams. They tied with Sweden and Croatia the first run but lost the other meetings to the two sides. Although Berbatov scored many key goals in the qualifiers including a last-minute equalizer against Croatia, Bulgaria still finished third in Group Eight with 15 points.

2006 Kirin CupEdit

Although not making it to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Bulgaria found themselves in a minor tournament in Japan. Known as the Kirin Cup, Bulgaria entered for the first time. They started off well with a 2–1 victory over the hosts, Japan. Later on though, things went downhill as they lost 5–1 to Scotland, the eventual cup champions. Bulgaria finished as the Runners-Up and received the silver medal.

2008 Euro Cup Qualification: Euro Cup Near MissEdit

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 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. The Bulgarians were robbed of their 4th Euro Cup appearance and finished with 25 points with only one loss.

2010 World Cup Qualification: Close CallEdit

 
Bulgaria National Football Team in 2010

Bulgaria were drawn against Italy and Ireland in qualifying Group Eight. Bulgaria started the campaign with a series of draws. After the unconvincing start, the 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.

2012 Euro Cup Qualification: UpsetEdit

 
The National Team in 2012

Bulgaria were drawn in Group G along with England, Switzerland, Wales, and Montenegro. Bulgaria started off horribly with an opening away loss to England. They later on drew level with Switzerland along with defeating Wales and Montenegro. Sadly, Bulgaria finished in third behind Switzerland. This was the fourth time in the 2000s era Bulgaria had finished third in their qualifier group.

2014 World Cup Qualification: World Cup Near MissEdit

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 up an incredible performance in many friendly matches before the start of the qualification stage, most notably a 2–1 victory over world cup 2010 runners-up Netherlands in Amsterdam. The qualifications started with a well-earned 2–2 draw against the Euro 2012 runners-up Italy. Bulgaria then edged a tight match against Armenia, which ended 1–0. Later on Bulgaria narrowly drew 1–1 against Denmark. 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, the team climbed from 96th in the FIFA Ranking, their lowest position in history, to 40th in November 2012, earning FIFA best mover of the year. Nevertheless, Penev's players hosted and defeated Malta 6–0 under heavy snowfall. Four days later, Bulgaria once again set a draw with Denmark 1–1 in Copenhagen. This result left Bulgaria second in the group with 10 points and still undefeated. Bulgaria traveled to Italy, a game where they narrowly lost 1–0. Further on, the lions secured three more points with a 2–0 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 Armenia 2–1 and the Czech Republic 1–0 at home, the dream of qualifying ended.

2016 Euro Cup 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 narrowly defeated 1–0 by Croatia, following another tight 2–1 defeat to Norway. To add to the misery, Bulgaria drew with Malta 1–1 at home. This ultimately cost Head Coach Lyuboslav Penev his position, which was replaced by former Ludogorets Razgrad Coach Ivaylo Petev. On his debut match, Petev's squad drew Romania 0-0, this later led to a hard fought 2–2 draw with Italy, which Bulgaria led till the end of the match. When June came around, Bulgaria took down Malta 1–0 to edge 2 points ever closer to that third place playoff position. They later narrowly lost at the hands of Norway, Italy and Croatia. Their final resulted in a 2–0 decisive win over Azerbaijan but their chances of qualifying to the finals tournament sadly ended once again.

2018 World Cup Qualification: The Qualifying Group of DeathEdit

Bulgaria were drawn in a strong World Cup qualification group with the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Belarus and Luxembourg. They began with a hard-fought 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 key 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]

2020 Euro Cup Qualification: Nations LeagueEdit

Bulgaria were drawn in Euro Cup Nations League C qualifying group 3 with Norway, Slovenia and Cyprus. Bulgaria opened up the campaign well, with an impressive 2–1 win over Slovenia and an even more astounding 1–0 shutout win over 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. This ultimately resulted in finishing in second place and narrowly missing promotion to League B.

2020 Euro Cup Qualification: Regular qualifiersEdit

Bulgaria was drawn in very tough group A with England, Czech Republic, Montenegro and Kosovo. The Lions began the qualifying campaign with 1–1 home draw against Montenegro and a 1–1 away draw to highly enthusiastic Kosovo while losing three of the best players due to injuries.[11] They still have a final chance of qualifying through the UEFA Nations League playoffs if and only if one of the four league C winners automatically qualifies through the regular euro qualifying stages. Bulgaria will then be next in line to fill in that fourth semi final playoff spot in March 2020.

Team imageEdit

Traditionally the Bulgarian squad plays at home entirely in the colours of the Bulgarian tri-color. Their nickname is The Lions, in tribute of the lions represented in the coat of arms of Bulgaria.

National StadiumEdit

 
The National Stadium

Normally, the Bulgarian national football team's home stadium is the Vasil Levski National Stadium with a capacity of 45,000. Vasil Levski was officially opened in 1953 and reconstructed in 1966 and 2002. It is currently eligible to host UEFA Europa League final matches. It is the second largest stadium in Bulgaria just behind the Plovdiv Stadium with a capacity 55,000. During the 2006–07 UEFA Champions League, the stadium was used for the games of Levski Sofia with Barcelona, Chelsea, and Werder Bremen. It was also given three stars for its excellence in art construction of the stadium. 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.

Competition HistoryEdit

     Champions       Runners-Up       Semi-Finals       Other Top Results  

World Cup RecordEdit

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

Euro Cup RecordEdit

UEFA Euro Cup Record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA
  1968 Quarter-Finals 5th 5 4 0 1 8 6
  1996 Group Stage 9th 3 1 1 1 3 4
  2004 Group Stage 14th 3 0 0 3 1 9
  2020 To Be Determined
Total 3/14 10 5 1 5 16 19

Olympic RecordEdit

Olympic Record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA
  1924 Round of 16 12th 1 0 0 1 0 1
  1952 Round of 16 13th 1 0 0 1 1 2
  1956   Semi-Finals 3rd 3 2 0 1 10 3
  1960 Group Stage 8th 3 2 1 0 8 3
  1968   Runners-Up 2nd 6 3 2 1 16 10
  2020 To Be Determined
Total 5/23 14 7 3 4 35 19

Balkan Cup RecordEdit

Balkan Cup Record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA
  1930 Group Stage 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   Semi-Finals 3rd 3 1 0 2 2 11
  1934 Group Stage 4th 3 1 0 2 7 8
  1935   Runners-Up 2nd 3 2 1 0 12 5
  1936   Runners-Up 2nd 2 1 0 2 6 8
  1946 Group Stage 4th 2 0 1 2 4 7
  1947 Group Stage 4th 4 1 0 3 5 14
  1948   Champions 1st 5 2 1 2 6 7
  1976   Champions 1st 4 2 0 2 9 9
  1980   Semi-Finals 3rd 4 1 1 2 4 8
Total 12/12 41 19 4 19 80 101

HonoursEdit

Recent ResultsEdit

  Win   Draw   Loss

Ranking historyEdit

Rank Date
Best Rank 3 June 1995
Current Rank 57 June 2019
Worst Rank 96 May 2012
  • FIFA-ranking yearly averages for Bulgaria (1993–2019)[12]
 
As of 25 February 2019

PlayersEdit

Current squadEdit

The following players have been called up for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying matches against the Czech Republic and Kosovo, on 7 and 10 June 2019.[13]
Caps and goals as of 10 June 2019 after the match against Kosovo.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
13 1GK Nikolay Mihaylov (1988-06-28) 28 June 1988 (age 31) 37 0   Levski Sofia
23 1GK Plamen Iliev (1991-11-30) 30 November 1991 (age 27) 13 0   Ludogorets Razgrad
1 1GK Hristo Ivanov (1982-04-06) 6 April 1982 (age 37) 0 0   Etar Veliko Tarnovo

2 2DF Strahil Popov (1990-08-31) 31 August 1990 (age 28) 26 0   Kasımpaşa
15 2DF Vasil Bozhikov (1988-06-02) 2 June 1988 (age 31) 23 1   Slovan Bratislava
11 2DF Ivan Bandalovski (1986-11-23) 23 November 1986 (age 32) 19 0   Beroe Stara Zagora
14 2DF Anton Nedyalkov (1993-04-30) 30 April 1993 (age 26) 11 0   Ludogorets Razgrad
20 2DF Ivan Goranov (1992-06-10) 10 June 1992 (age 27) 3 0   Levski Sofia
5 2DF Kristian Dimitrov (1997-02-27) 27 February 1997 (age 22) 2 1   Botev Plovdiv
4 2DF Viktor Genev (1988-10-27) 27 October 1988 (age 30) 0 0 Unattached
3 2DF Krum Stoyanov (1991-08-01) 1 August 1991 (age 27) 0 0   Etar Veliko Tarnovo

8 3MF Todor Nedelev (1993-02-07) 7 February 1993 (age 26) 25 2   Botev Plovdiv
21 3MF Georgi Iliev (1981-09-05) 5 September 1981 (age 37) 24 2   Lokomotiv Plovdiv
3MF Georgi Kostadinov (1990-09-07) 7 September 1990 (age 28) 19 3   Arsenal Tula
6 3MF Georgi Sarmov (1985-09-07) 7 September 1985 (age 33) 13 0   Chemnitzer FC
18 3MF Galin Ivanov (1988-04-15) 15 April 1988 (age 31) 6 1   Szombathelyi Haladás
16 3MF Kristiyan Malinov (1994-03-30) 30 March 1994 (age 25) 5 0   CSKA Sofia
3MF Yanis Karabelyov (1996-01-23) 23 January 1996 (age 23) 1 0   Slavia Sofia

10 4FW Ivelin Popov (Captain) (1987-10-26) 26 October 1987 (age 31) 84 15   Rostov
9 4FW Kiril Despodov (1996-11-11) 11 November 1996 (age 22) 7 1   Cagliari
22 4FW Martin Minchev (2001-04-22) 22 April 2001 (age 18) 3 0   Cherno More Varna
19 4FW Ismail Isa (1989-06-26) 26 June 1989 (age 30) 2 1   Cherno More Varna
17 4FW Tsvetelin Chunchukov (1994-12-26) 26 December 1994 (age 24) 2 0   Slavia Sofia
7 4FW Stanislav Ivanov (1999-04-16) 16 April 1999 (age 20) 0 0   Levski 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 Blagoy Makendzhiev (1988-07-11) 11 July 1988 (age 31) 0 0   Dunav Ruse v.   Kosovo, 25 March 2019
GK Dimitar Evtimov (1993-09-07) 7 September 1993 (age 25) 0 0   Accrington Stanley v.   Kosovo, 25 March 2019
GK Georgi Petkov (1976-03-14) 14 March 1976 (age 43) 18 0   Slavia Sofia v.   Slovenia, 19 November 2018
GK Martin Lukov (1993-07-05) 5 July 1993 (age 26) 0 0   Lokomotiv Plovdiv v.   Norway, 9 September 2018

DF Kamen Hadzhiev (1991-09-22) 22 September 1991 (age 27) 0 0   Puskás Akadémia v.   Czech Republic, 7 June 2019
DF Nikolay Bodurov (1986-05-30) 30 May 1986 (age 33) 49 2   CSKA Sofia v.   Czech Republic, 7 June 2019INJ
DF Ivan Turitsov (1999-07-18) 18 July 1999 (age 20) 0 0   CSKA Sofia v.   Czech Republic, 7 June 2019INJ
DF Petar Zanev (1985-10-18) 18 October 1985 (age 33) 39 0   CSKA Sofia v.   Kosovo, 25 March 2019
DF Valentin Antov (2000-11-09) 9 November 2000 (age 18) 1 0   CSKA Sofia v.   Kosovo, 25 March 2019
DF Bozhidar Chorbadzhiyski (1995-08-01) 1 August 1995 (age 23) 8 0   CSKA Sofia v.   Slovenia, 19 November 2018
DF Angel Lyaskov (1998-03-16) 16 March 1998 (age 21) 1 0   Botev Vratsa v.   Norway, 9 September 2018

MF Marcelinho (1984-08-24) 24 August 1984 (age 34) 7 2   Ludogorets Razgrad v.   Czech Republic, 7 June 2019INJ
MF Simeon Slavchev (1993-09-25) 25 September 1993 (age 25) 24 0   Qarabağ v.   Kosovo, 25 March 2019
MF Nikolay Dimitrov (1987-10-15) 15 October 1987 (age 31) 9 1   Ural Yekaterinburg v.   Kosovo, 25 March 2019
MF Antonio Vutov (1996-06-06) 6 June 1996 (age 23) 0 0   Botev Plovdiv v.   Kosovo, 25 March 2019
MF Ivaylo Chochev (1993-02-18) 18 February 1993 (age 26) 18 3   Palermo v.   Montenegro, 22 March 2019INJ
MF Bozhidar Kraev (1997-06-23) 23 June 1997 (age 22) 9 2   Midtjylland v.   Slovenia, 19 November 2018
MF Martin Raynov (1992-04-25) 25 April 1992 (age 27) 7 0   Levski Sofia v.   Slovenia, 19 November 2018
MF Aleksandar Tsvetkov (1990-08-31) 31 August 1990 (age 28) 2 0   Beroe Stara Zagora v.   Slovenia, 19 November 2018
MF Svetoslav Kovachev (1998-03-14) 14 March 1998 (age 21) 0 0   Etar Veliko Tarnovo v.   Slovenia, 19 November 2018
MF Georgi Milanov (1992-02-19) 19 February 1992 (age 27) 41 2   Fehérvár v.   Norway, 16 October 2018
MF Borislav Tsonev (1995-04-29) 29 April 1995 (age 24) 0 0   Inter Zaprešić v.   Norway, 16 October 2018INJ

FW Stanislav Kostov (1991-10-02) 2 October 1991 (age 27) 3 0   Levski Sofia v.   Czech Republic, 7 June 2019INJ
FW Spas Delev (1989-09-22) 22 September 1989 (age 29) 24 2 Unattached v.   Kosovo, 25 March 2019
FW Radoslav Kirilov (1992-06-29) 29 June 1992 (age 27) 2 0   Slavia Sofia v.   Kosovo, 25 March 2019
FW Radoslav Vasilev (1990-10-12) 12 October 1990 (age 28) 6 1   Arda Kardzhali v.   Montenegro, 22 March 2019
Notes

Coaching staffEdit

 
Krasimir Balakov, the current manager of the Bulgaria national football team.
Role Name
Head coach   Krasimir Balakov
Assistant coach(es)   Yoncho Arsov
  Stanislav Genchev
Goalkeeping coach   Kaloyan Chakarov
Sport analysis   Ivan Stoilov

Previous squadsEdit

Player recordsEdit

Most goalsEdit

 
Dimitar Berbatov is Bulgaria's all-time top scorer with 48 goals.
# Player Career Goals Caps Average
1 Dimitar Berbatov 1999–2010 48 78 0.60
2 Hristo Bonev 1967–1979 48 96 0.49
3 Hristo Stoichkov 1987–1999 37 83 0.45
4 Emil Kostadinov 1988–1998 26 70 0.37
5 Petar Zhekov 1963–1972 25 44 0.57
6 Ivan Kolev 1950–1963 25 75 0.33
7 Atanas Mihaylov 1970–1981 23 45 0.51
8 Nasko Sirakov 1983–1996 23 82 0.28
9 Dimitar Milanov 1948–1959 20 39 0.51
10 Georgi Asparuhov 1962–1970 19 50 0.38
11 Dinko Dermendzhiev 1966–1977 19 58 0.33
12 Martin Petrov 1999–2013 19 89 0.21

Most appearancesEdit

 
Stiliyan Petrov is Bulgaria's most capped player with 105 appearances
# Player Career Caps Goals Average
1 Stiliyan Petrov 1998–2013 105 8 0.08
2 Borislav Mihaylov 1983–1998 102 0 0.00
3 Hristo Bonev 1967–1979 96 48 0.49
4 Krasimir Balakov 1988–2003 92 16 0.17
5 Dimitar Penev 1965–1974 90 2 0.02
6 Martin Petrov 1999–2013 89 19 0.21
7 Radostin Kishishev 1996–2009 88 1 0.01
8 Ivelin Popov 2007– 84 15 0.17
9 Hristo Stoichkov 1986–1999 83 37 0.45
10 Nasko Sirakov 1983–1996 82 23 0.28
11 Ayan Sadakov 1981–1991 80 9 0.11
= Zlatko Yankov 1989–1999 80 4 0.05

International match recordsEdit

As of 10 June 2019[14]

  Positive Record   Neutral Record   Negative Record

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

Head coachesEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 14 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  2. ^ Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". eloratings.net. 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Bulgaria National Team Historical Results". worldfootball.net. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ [5]
  9. ^ [6]
  10. ^ [7]
  11. ^ [8]
  12. ^ "FIFA-ranking yearly averages for Bulgaria". Fifa.com. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Състав на мъжкия национален отбор за мачовете с Чехия и Косово" [Squad of the mens national football team for matches with the Czech Republic and Kosovo] (in Bulgarian). Bulgarian Football Union. 16 May 2019.
  14. ^ "World Football Elo Ratings: Bulgaria". Elo Ratings. Retrieved 9 September 2017.

External linksEdit