Bulgaria to Face Italy in Crucial World Cup Qualifier
Bulgaria is to face favorites Italy in a crucial World Cup qualifier in Palermo at 20:45 CET on Friday.
Both sides are unbeaten ahead of the game, with the hosts holding a four point advantage over Bulgaria.
Lyuboslav Penev’s boys have exceeded all expectations so far, winning 10 points from 6 games and maintaining chances of clinching a World Cup playoff spot.
Wins against Bulgaria on Friday and the Czech Republic on Tuesday would put Cesare Prandelli’s side on the brink of a place in Brazil.
Italy will be without key trio Mario Balotelli, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Riccardo Montolivo due to suspension. Meanwhile, defender Andrea Barzagli has pulled out of the squad with injury.
Bulgaria will miss CSKA Moscow midfielder Georgi Milanov, as he is suspended after receiving his second yellow card in the 1-1 draw at Denmark in March.
"On Friday we're expecting a difficult match against a tough opponent and since we want to win we're counting on the quality of our midfield and our wingers," Prandelli said ahead of the game.
Penev said his side would not play defensively against Italy.
“We want to perform at a good level. The game will be crucial for determining the winner of the group,” he said.
The reverse fixture finished 2-2 this time last year in Sofia.