Bulgaria's football team
Life is never easy for Bulgaria’s football fans. They’ve known years of missed qualifications and fine margins, but they’ve also seen teams who look like world beaters. In recent times, the Lions have been able to call on a host of talent: the dynamism and talented leadership of Stiliyan Petrov made him a Celtic and Aston Villa legend, Martin Petrov shone on the wing in his home country and around Europe, while everyone from schoolchildren to teammates tried to match Dimitar Berbatov’s confidence, composure and close control. Are the next generation of stars ready to match them? Come and see for yourself with Bulgaria Tickets here at StubHub!
Bulgaria – a great heritage
For many fans, the domestic game is dominated by the long-running rivalry between the two big clubs in the capital, Levski and CSKA, both of which have provided many of the country’s internationals over the years. And in the Vasil Levski Stadium, the Lions have one of Bulgaria’s great sporting venues – a classic European-style multi-sport arena, open to the sky.
However, problems with the integrity of the domestic club game seem to have damaged the international team’s form too, with Bulgaria struggling to compete for World Cup and Euro qualifying spots for much of the 2000s. Fans are hoping for a return to the success of the 1970s – with creditable showings in two finals – and the glory days of the 1990s. Temperamental but brilliant, the CSKA and Barcelona FC striker Hristo Stoichkov was comparable only to Romania’s Gheorghe Hagi for his skill and eye for goal. Success seemed to smooth the differences in a famously argumentative squad, and with the midfield industry of Krasimir Balakov and the trickery of Jordan Letchkov, Stoichkov took the team to the brink of World Cup victory.
USA 1994 was a time for making memories. An opening defeat against Nigeria had threatened to reopen the cracks in the team’s morale, but a confident victory against Greece gave Bulgaria everything to play for against Argentina. In a sometimes bad-tempered game, a side containing Batistuta and Simeone came up against organised defending and a brilliant goal on the break by Stoichkov, who sprinted onto a through ball and finished as if it were a formality.
More was to follow in the quarter finals against Germany. After Letchkov had conceded a penalty, Boris Mihaylov – a hero in the previous round’s shoot-out – could do nothing to deny Lothar Matthäus. The game turned on a moment of supreme skill from Stoichkov, casually lifting a free kick round the wall from nearly 30 yards. With the World Cup holders now on the back foot, Zlatko Yankov neatly turned inside his man and crossed for Letchkov’s now famous diving header.