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Know Your World Cup Opponent: Bulgaria

This Wednesday Italy will be playing against Bulgaria for a spot in the World Cup in a critical qualifying match.  Italy is currently in the driver’s seat a top the group bracket, but if Bulgaria gets red hot in the final matches, they could manage to receive a World Cup bid as well.  This is an overview of Bulgaria’s Cup history and current squad.

Bulgaria never even made it to a World Cup until 1962.  Then in the next four Cups the club would qualify each time only to lose in the first round of the tournament.  Bulgaria never advanced past the initial group until 1986.  That year the club finally made it to the second round only to lose once again. 

1994 would be the year that Bulgaria would break the curse and it remains the best year in the nation’s World Cup success.  Not only did Bulgaria make it past the initial round and their first knockout match, but the club would upset defending champs, Germany, in a quarter-final match 2-1.  The club would then lose to Italy in the semi-final, but Hristo Stoitchkov would be honored with the joint Golden Boot Award for his six goal effort and Bulgaria would earn football respect from the entire world for their outstanding play on the biggest stage.

Bulgaria has not competed in the last two World Cups.  They have competed in 7 of the last 12 Cups, so the nation should be due for a bid sometime in the near future.  The club is lead by forward Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United.  Berbatov is only six goals away from owning the highest goal total in Bulagaria’s national history.