Bulgaria host Switzerland in Sofia as these two teams look to make a winning start to their respective Group C World Cup European Qualification campaigns.
Switzerland know that they have an opportunity to take advantage of a national team likely low on confidence, with Bulgaria having won just once in their last 18 competitive international fixtures in all competitions. Switzerland had been on a poor run themselves, but ended that last time out with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Ukraine in the UEFA Nations League, their first international victory since November 2019. The momentum garnered from that win over Ukraine should carry them in good stead heading into this one and the visitors draw no bet is to be seriously considered when taking into the account the woeful form of Bulgaria.
ulgaria vs Switzerland live streaming: Key information to watching online
Below are two options to live stream Bulgaria vs Switzerland in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
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Option 1: Bulgaria vs Switzerland live stream on ESPN+ (America)
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Bulgaria vs Switzerland live streaming: Preview
Granit Xhaka Switzerland
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA – JUNE 22: Granit Xhaka of Switzerland scores his team’s first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Serbia and Switzerland at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 22, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Will Switzerland maintain their fantastic record in European Qualifiers?
They may not be one of international football’s superpowers but, since 2004, the Swiss have qualified for eight of the nine tournaments, only missing out on Euro 2012.
This includes this summer’s European Championships which they qualified for winning five out of eight matches.
When they were last in action, Vladimir Petković’s side finished third in Nations League A4, holding both Germany and Spain to draws at St. Jakob-Park.
Already delayed due to COVID-19, the qualifying matches will be played from March 2021 to March 2022 to determine the 13 teams from Europe who will travel for the main event in Qatar in May next year.
With the deferred UEFA Euro 2020 tournament starting from June 2021, three matchdays will be held back-to-back over the week starting Wednesday (March 24). The FIFA World Cup 2022 European qualifying schedule will resume again in September after the regular club season and Euros get over.
How do the FIFA World Cup 2022 European qualifiers work?
The FIFA World Cup 2022 European qualifiers will be played in two stages. The group stage will see the 55 European teams divided in 10 groups of five or six teams each. Belgium, France, Italy, Spain – the four teams who reached the 2021 UEFA Nations League finals – are in the smaller five-team groups
The draws were done in Zurich in December 2020. Here are the groups:
Group A: Portugal, Serbia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
Group B: Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo
Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania
Group D: France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan
Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia
Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova
Group G: Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar
Group H: Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta
Group I: England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino
Group J: Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein
In the group stage, each team will play the other teams in a round robin format. The eventual 10 group winners will qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The 10 runners-ups, meanwhile, will move onto the second round or play-offs. There, they will be joined by the two best group winners of the UEFA Nations League 2020-21 chosen through their overall ranking.
These two teams, obviously, cannot be the ones which have qualified directly for the FIFA World Cup 2022 final tournament as European qualifiers group winners or the ones which entered the play-offs as European qualifiers group runners-up.
The 12 teams will then be drawn into three play-off paths consisting of four teams each. Each play-off path will see the teams play a one-off semi-final and a final. The three winners from each play-off path will qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Reigning champions France begin their qualifying campaign against Ukraine, while the Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal, also the current European champions, will look to hit the ground running against Azerbaijan.
They can certainly compete with the best but will Switzerland grace the world stage in Qatar in 2022?
Bulgaria meanwhile have qualified for seven World Cups but the most recent of those was France ’98.
Their last tournament of any kind was Euro 2004.
Since then, Bulgaria have won just 26 of 79 qualification matches and their slide down the World Rankings doesn’t seem likely to end any time soon.
Despite only winning one of eight Euro 2020 qualifiers, their Nations League performance earned them a play-off place in which they were demolished 3-1 by Hungary in the semi-finals.
This means they were winless in seven competitive internationals in 2020 and are not likely to threaten the qualification positions in this campaign.
In European qualifying, the group winners qualify for the World Cup with the runners-up advancing to the play-off round.
With Italy also in Group C, Switzerland can’t afford to drop silly points if they’re to pip Gli Azzurri to first place.
Will the home side easily win at Vasil Levski National Stadium?
Prediction: Bulgaria 0-2 Switzerland
Switzerland have only lost two qualifier since October 2014, coming in defeats in Denmark, Portugal and England.
Bulgaria have only won one of their last 18 competitive matches, beating Czech Republic in a dead-rubber.