Euro 2012 Qualifying-Group G, England v. Bulgaria, Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia. Sky Sports 1/Espn3.com; 19:15 BST/2:15 EST/11:15 PST,
“Always leave ‘em wanting more.” After a madcap first two weeks, the Premier League steps aside for an international break that’s usually met with indifference and worse by supporters just getting back in the season’s groove. While this weekend offers few sexy matches, much remains in play for next summer’s European Championship.
In Group G, the Bulgarians will be fighting to just to stay alive while England can tighten their tenuous grip on first place. England bludgeoned Bulgaria 4-0 in their first encounter in London a year ago. German legend and former MetroStar Lothar Matthaus took the reins soon after, but the Black Sea Lions remain extreme longshots for qualification.
England’s drubbing of Bulgaria and its successive win against Switzerland to begin their qualification campaign last fall helped to wash out the bitter taste of the World Cup. But since then, two draws and a win against woeful Wales leaves them in a dogfight for the top slot in a weak group. Over the past 12 months they are winless at “Fortress” Wembley; slumping to a goalless draw against Montenegro, drawing against Ghana and Switzerland and losing to an experimental post-World Cup disaster French side.
Today’s match will feature a squad transitioning away from the old guard. A team that recently had a strong Aston Villa flavour to it now may feature many of the Manchester United new boys including Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley, and Ashley Young.
Two more qualification matches await: Wales at Wembley on Tuesday and Montenegro on the road in their final tilt on October 7th that could well determine Group G’s winner.
And if all that is not enough to get your blood racing, England will be debuting their new “galaxy” blue shirts with “regatta blue” shorts and trim. A tad dull compared to their iconic red shirt, but legendary results will produce a legendary look.