Bulgaria v N Ireland betting tips: Goals could be scarce in Sofia
Bulgaria v N Ireland betting tips and odds
Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier in Sofia has a dead-rubber feel about it after Northern Ireland’s play-off hopes were dealt a blow with a controversial loss in Switzerland at the weekend.
Jamal Lewis was harshly shown a second yellow card for taking too long at a throw-in eight minutes before half-time when the scores were level and Ian Baraclough’s depleted side eventually cracked in a 2-0 defeat which has left them six points behind the Swiss with three games remaining.
The teams drew at Windsor Park in March and another share of the spoils is 15/8, but let’s look at how the return might transpire in our Bulgaria v N Ireland betting tips.
The chances of Switzerland losing to either Lithuania or Bulgaria in their last three games are remote, so Northern Ireland are now effectively playing for third place.
Baraclough’s boys were held to a goalless draw by Bulgaria in Belfast despite winning the shot count 14-3 and having 71% possession.
Bulgaria’s own play-off hopes virtually disappeared with Saturday’s embarrassing 3-1 defeat in Lithuania during which they missed an early penalty and conceded twice in the final 10 minutes.
An away win can be backed at 7/4 bearing in mind Bulgaria have won just one competitive match in the last 20 months, although strangely they held Italy to a 1-1 draw in a World Cup qualifier in Florence.
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) October 9, 2021
The visitors may be slight favourites, but Bulgaria have won three of the four meetings with Northern Ireland this century and can be backed at 9/5 to win again, although such has been their poor form in recent years it would take a brave person to back them.
The last three matches have produced a total of two goals, so we go 13/10 on one goal or fewer, while under 1.5 goals in the first half, two or fewer in the second and either team to win looks a possibility at 11/10.
Another goalless draw is available at 5/1, while at least one team failing to score and under 2.5 goals is 4/5.
Lewis’ dismissal was described by Baraclough as a “very poor decision” but his thoughts will not prevent the Norwich player from being suspended, with Shane Ferguson set to deputise at left-back.
Northern Ireland were already without seven players for the game in Geneva, including key defender Jonny Evans, so their resources were already stretched despite the returns of Stuart Dallas, Paddy McNair and George Saville.
Baraclough went with a 5-4-1 against the Swiss but deployed a 4-1-3-2 in the home match against Bulgaria, although that was when he had more options at his disposal.
The Bulgarians are likely to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with either Dimitar Iliev or Kalayan Krastev spearheading the attack.
Josh Magennis and Conor Washington could be fighting it out for the sole striker spot if Baraclough decides to go that way and those two are 5/1 and 11/2 to break the deadlock respectively or 12/5 and 13/5 to get on the scoresheet.
Centre-back Daniel Ballard scored in a 4-1 win in Lithuania and is 10/1 to bag his second international goal, while Dallas is 5/1 in our Bulgaria v N Ireland betting tips.
For Bulgaria, Kiril Despodov is 8/1 to net the opening goal or 7/2 to score as he did against Lithuania or Iliev is 6/1 and 14/5 in the same markets.
Where: Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia
When: 19:45, Tuesday 12th October
How to watch: Sky Sports
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication