MX23RW : Tuesday, August 16 11:11:41| >> :600:2705775:2705775:
[monks data]
Jun 2, 2022 at 5pm UK
Bulgaria
1 - 1
N. Macedonia
Despodov (13')
Milanov (45'), Minchev (90+2')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Ristovski (50')
Ashkovski (64'), Elmas (74')

Preview: Bulgaria vs. North Macedonia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Nations League clash between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Bulgaria will welcome North Macedonia to the Ludogorets Arena in Razgrad for the first fixture of their 2022-23 UEFA Nations League campaign on Thursday.

The hosts have won each of their last three matches on home soil, scoring seven goals during this period, while the visitors have only lost one of their last five games on the road, scoring 12 goals in the process.


Match preview

Bulgaria coach Yasen Petrov pictured on June 5, 2021© Reuters

Bulgaria are still waiting for their first World Cup appearance this century after they failed to qualify for the 2022 tournament in Qatar. Just eight points accumulated from as many matches saw them finish fourth in their qualification group behind Switzerland, Italy and Northern Ireland.

Since losing 4-0 to Switzerland in their final group game, the Lions have suffered 2-1 defeats in friendlies against both Qatar and Croatia in March.

Yasen Petrov's men now turn their attention to four Nations League fixtures in June as they bid to turn their fortunes around against seemingly favourable opponents.

Bulgaria have one encounter against Gibraltar sandwiched between two games against Georgia, but they will first lock horns with North Macedonia, a nation whom they have beaten in three of their last four meetings.

The Lions, who were relegated from League B Group 4 in 2020 after failing to win any of their six matches, will see their winless run in the competition extended to 10 games if they fail to claim all three points on Thursday.

North Macedonia head coach Blagoja Milevski pictured on November 14, 2021© Reuters

North Macedonia were unable to follow up their first-ever major tournament appearance at Euro 2020 with qualification for the 2022 World Cup, after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Portugal in the playoff final in March.

After pulling off one of the greatest results in their history with a shock 1-0 win against four-time world champions and Euro 2020 holders Italy, a brace from Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes ended the Lynxes' hopes of reaching Qatar at the final hurdle.

Blagoja Milevski's side will now be keen to put aside their World Cup heartache and avoid a repeat of their last Nations League campaign, which saw them narrowly miss out on promotion in their final fixture.

After winning two and drawing three of their first five fixtures, Armenia secured promotion at North Macedonia's expense with a slender 1-0 win against them in their final match of 2020.

The Lynxes will be confident of success on Thursday, but they will be hoping to better their only ever visit to Bulgaria which saw them lose 1-0 back in August 2001.

Bulgaria Nations League form:
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D

Bulgaria form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L

North Macedonia Nations League form:
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L

North Macedonia form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L


Team News

North Macedonia's Eljif Elmas celebrates scoring against Germany on March 31, 2021© Reuters

Bulgarian brothers Petko Hristov and Andrea Hristov are expected to partner one another at centre-back, with full-backs Ivan Turitsov and Edisson Jordanov set to join them in defence.

Georgi Kostadinov could be handed a start in centre-midfield alongside Georgi Milanov and Todor Nedelev, while either Martin Minchev or Atanas Iliev are set to lead the line in attack, with the former yet to score in six international appearances.

As for North Macedonia, captain Stefan Ristovski has pulled out of the squad due to injury, so Stefan Ashkovski is likely to start at right-back, joining Darko Velkovski, Visar Musliu and Ezgjan Alioski in the back four.

Stefan Spirovski could earn his 50th international cap in centre-midfield alongside Napoli playmaker Eljif Elmas and Levante's Enis Bardhi.

Aleksandar Trajkovski, who scored a dramatic 92nd-minute winner against Italy three months ago, is expected to be joined in attack by Boban Nikolov and Milan Ristovski.

Bulgaria possible starting lineup:
Mihaylov; Turitsov, A. Hristov, P. Hristov, Jordanov; Malinov, Kostadinov, Nedelev; Despodov; M. Minchev, Kirilov

North Macedonia possible starting lineup:
Dimitrievski; Ashkovski, Velkovski, Musliu, Alioski; Spirovski, Bardhi, Elmas; Nikolov, M. Ristovski, Trajkovski


SM words green background

We say: Bulgaria 1-2 North Macedonia

Each of the previous four meetings between Bulgaria and North Macedonia have been closely-fought encounters and another could be on the cards on Thursday.

However, considering the visitors have impressed against European giants Italy and Portugal in recent months, we can see them edging this contest in Razgrad.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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How you voted: Bulgaria vs N. Macedonia

Bulgaria
21.0%
Draw
15.4%
North Macedonia
63.6%
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North Macedonia coach Igor Angelovski celebrates with players after qualifying for Euro 2020 in November 2020
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