Group C went into the penultimate month of World Cup qualifying as one of the more open groups with regards to who could still make it to Qatar. But unfortunately for both these sides, things are looking a lot more certain with a few games left to play. Bulgaria have not had a good qualifying campaign so far and their qualification hopes, even via the play-offs, are all but over. With two games left in their fixture list, Bulgaria are six points behind second-placed Switzerland having accumulated just five points from their opening six matches. After losing their first two games, Bulgaria did turn things around slightly with two draws and a win, but they were shocked at the weekend losing 3-1 to Lithuania who were yet to claim a victory in this qualifying group.
Northern Ireland also had a tough weekend but they do still have a slim chance of reaching the play-offs, though they will need to be perfect as well as enjoying a bit of luck elsewhere. Like Bulgaria, Northern Ireland also have five points, but they have played a game fewer than their hosts on Tuesday so could still overtake Switzerland (though they have also played five matches). It was Switzerland who handed Northern Ireland their second defeat of World Cup qualifying on Saturday as two injury-time goals in either half were enough to open up a six point gap as Ian Baraclough’s men also saw Jamal Lewis sent off for two yellow cards after just 30 minutes.
Bulgaria vs Northern Ireland: Match Stats
If you have been following Group C in World Cup qualifying, chances are you haven’t been impressed by Bulgaria and Northern Ireland. The pair have not been good in front of goal, scoring eight goals between them with each managing four. However, all four of those goals for Northern Ireland came in one win over Lithuania, while Bulgaria are yet to score more than once in a game.
Building on this, Group C has been the group of draws, with the top four teams all drawing twice. Northern Ireland have managed draws against Switzerland and Bulgaria, while the hosts have also held Italy to a draw. The poor attacks could mean we’re in for another stalemate here.
31 March 2021 – Northern Ireland 0-0 Bulgaria – World Cup Qualifier
6 February 2008 – Northern Ireland 0-1 Bulgaria – Friendly
2 June 2001 – Northern Ireland 0-1 Bulgaria – World Cup Qualifier
28 March 2001 – Bulgaria 4-3 Northern Ireland – World Cup Qualifier
2 May 1979 – Northern Ireland 2-1 Bulgaria – European Championship Qualifier
Bulgaria have the upper hand in this fixture historically, winning half of the eight games including the first in qualifying for the 1974 World Cup. Northern Ireland have won two matches but are without victory since 1979, with Bulgaria winning three in a row before a goalless draw in this edition of World Cup qualifying back in March.